“Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” – Luke 22:19
It was at the memorial of 2013 that I first obeyed those words of my Lord Jesus Christ. My late-wife declined to partake that first year, because she did not feel worthy. I have come to see that this is a common response among Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been indoctrinated all their lives to view the partaking of the emblems as something reserved for a select few.
For most of my life, I held this same view. As the bread and wine were passed during the yearly commemoration of the Lord’s Evening Meal, I joined my brothers and sisters in refusing to partake. I did not view it as a refusal however. I saw it as an act of humility. I was acknowledging publicly that I was not worthy to partake, because I had not been chosen by God. I never really thought deeply on the words of Jesus when he introduced this topic to his disciples:
“Accordingly Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to YOU, Unless YOU eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, YOU have no life in yourselves. 54 He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me forth and I live because of the Father, he also that feeds on me, even that one will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. It is not as when YOUR forefathers ate and yet died. He that feeds on this bread will live forever.”” (Joh 6:53-58)
Somehow I believed that he would resurrect me at the last day, that I could receive everlastingly life, all the while refusing to partake of the symbols of the flesh and blood by which everlasting life is granted. I would read verse 58 which likens his flesh to the manna of which all the Isrealites—even the children—partook and yet feel that in the Christian antitypical application it was reserved only for an elite few.
Granted, the Bible does say that many are invited but few are chosen. (Mt 22:14) The leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses tells you that you should only partake if you have been chosen, and that the choosing is done via some mysterious process by which Jehovah God tells you that you’re his child. Okay, let’s put all the mysticism aside for a moment, and go with what is actually written. Did Jesus tell us to partake as a symbol of being chosen? Did he give us a warning that if we partake without getting some signal from God, that we would be sinning?
He gave us a very clear, straightforward command. “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” Surely, if he didn’t want the vast majority of his disciples to “keep doing this” to remember him, he would have said so. He wouldn’t leave us wallowing in uncertainty. How unfair would that be?
Is Worthiness a Requirement?
For many, the fear of doing something that Jehovah might disapprove of, is ironically keeping them from gaining his approval.
Would you not consider Paul and the 12 apostles to be the most worthy of men to partake of the emblems?
Jesus chose 13 apostles. The first 12 were chosen after a night of prayer. Were they worthy? They certainly had many failings. They bickered among themselves about who would be the greatest up to shortly before his death. Certainly a presumptuous desire for prominence is not a worthy characteristic. Thomas was a doubter. All abandoned Jesus in his moment of greatest need. The foremost of them, Simon Peter, denied our Lord publicly three times. Later in life, Peter gave way to fear of man. (Gal 2:11-14)
And then we come to Paul.
It can be argued that no follower of Jesus has had more impact on the development of the Christian congregation than he. A worthy man? A desirable one, for sure, but chosen for his worthiness? In fact, he was chosen at the time he was most unworthy, on the road to Damascus in pursuit of Christians. He was the foremost persecutor of the followers of Jesus. (1Co 15:9)
All of these men were not chosen when they were worthy – that is to say after they had done notable deeds befitting a true follower of Jesus. The choosing came first, the deeds came afterwards. And even though these men did great deeds in the service of our Lord, even the best of them never did enough to win the prize by merit. The reward is always given as a free gift to undeserving ones. It is given to those the Lord loves and he decides whom he will love. We don’t. We may, and often do, feel unworthy of that love, but that does not stop him from loving us the more.
Jesus chose those apostles because he knew their heart. He knew them far better than they knew themselves. Could Saul of Tarsus have been aware that within his heart existed a quality so precious and desirable that our Lord would reveal himself in blinding light so as to call him out? Did any of the apostles really know what Jesus saw in them? Can I see in myself, what Jesus sees in me? Can you? A father can look at a young child and see potential in that infant far beyond anything the child can imagine at that point. It is not for the child to judge his worthiness. It is only for the child to obey.
If Jesus was standing outside your door right now, asking to come in, would you leave him on the stoop, reasoning you are not worthy of him to enter your home?
“Look! I am standing at the door and knocking. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his [house] and take the evening meal with him and he with me.” (Re 3:20)
The wine and bread is the food of the evening meal. Jesus is seeking us out, knocking at our door. Will we open to him, let him in, and eat with him?
We do not partake of the emblems because we are worthy. We partake because we are not worthy.
[…] sure hope? No, a removal of hope. As discussed in the recent topic on this site (See I’m not Worthy) the real meaning of John 6:53-58 is hidden from us. We are also taught that we can only now […]
I’ve noticed a tendency of late to express scriptural opinions as fact, personal interpretations as revealed truth. I hope I’m not being harsh. I don’t mean to be. I only want to point out that while we respect everyone’s right to try to understand difficult passages of scripture, we benefit others most by citing the Scriptures on which our understandings are based and then explaining, again, from Scripture, how we have arrived at such understandings. That way, we will make no one a follower of men as is the sad case with Jehovah’s Witnesses who hang on every word sounded… Read more »
I myself could never understand or grasp the idea that Jesus only died for 144,000 honestly that’s what we are being taught. It’s almost like they are the ransom? We don’t get anything without them. Outside of 144,000 the rest of us are just hitchhikers. One of our lines of reasoning to use is “the anointed/144,000 have to rule over someone that’s what the Bible says the kings/Priest will do.” Why would the need or privilege for 144,000 to rule in heaven outweigh the lives of billions of humans combined? If the rest of us didn’t count there would be… Read more »
Filius90, When WT doctrines don’t make sense, don’t fit together, and can only be taught with convoluted, complex explanations, that is nature’s way of telling you that these doctrines are false. Allow me to explain you how I view this matter. Then tell me if you think it makes sense. 1. The “144,000” in Revelation is symbolic of the number of those destined to rule on the earth. The actual number is unknown; it could be larger or smaller, but in any case, the passage of 2,000 years does not mean that “time has run out” for new people to… Read more »
Hello Filius, I hope that you didn’t retract your comments on my account. If you did, please accept my apologies. You may still have time to edit your posting and put back what you wrote before. You should never feel like what you say is ‘not good enough’. No one is here to judge. We all have different abilities, different knowledge and different life experiences. Many JWs start out unable to express what is on their mind, except that they have a vague suspicion that something isn’t right but don’t quite know how to explain it. When people interact on… Read more »
Blessed you are , i agree with you with most of what you say: 1)Christians who received of the spirit are not automatically made rulers. In the first century, receiving the gift of the spirit primarily was an outward indication of God’s approval to show onlookers that His blessing was no longer with Israel but with the new Christian congregation, not necessarily that they would be a ruler. (The “outward” aspect was due to the ability to perform powerful works that onlookers could see.) 2)Those who are to become rulers are not going to heaven (there is a true in… Read more »
tyhik, that is some excellent research. (I AM NOT SURE WHY YOU WOULD RETRACT THAT. IT SEEMED LIKE A WELL THOUGHT OUT COMMENT.) I would have never seen that if you hadn’t pointed this out. I can see that ‘divide’ describes the bread which is broken, and ‘distribute’ means that each participant retains a share of what is being divided. By contrast, ‘pass’ only conveys the thought that some object is travelling from one person to the next without (necessarily) stopping as each person took a share. The apostles did in fact ‘pass’ these things, AFTER they consumed some of… Read more »
I retracted it because after commenting I got a nagging feeling that this topic (knowingly mistranslating Luke 22:17 in NWT) may have been discussed in this forum already. Search revealed that yes, there’s a whole article on exactly that topic from just a few months ago. Well, when retracting, I should have posted a link to the article.
Thanks Tyhik, but never worry about repeating something. If most are like me, they will have forgotten and we can always benefit from truthful reminders.
If you had a copy of your comments, or can remember them, I would encourage you to add them back. I thought they were well-considered.
No copy, sorry. But the linked article really covers everything I said.
But I don’t see any links either. Am I missing something? Could you repeat the links? I don’t know where they are.
I believe the article tyhik is referring to is this one: Does the NWT Live UP to Its Own Standards?
I was thinking , just reading the bible plainly and simply , no one would ever , ever come to the conclusion , that a christian should never partake of the bread and wine full stop ,and that they should publicly refuse to partake . The witnesses view large parts of the NT as just something that applies to someone else , how on earth can you claim to be a christian with an attitude like that ? However there’s massive warnings in the NT about the importance of avoiding false teachers, they are just not heeded that’s all ,… Read more »
The witnesses say that those verses in john 6 about eating Christ’s flesh and drinking his blood have nothing to do with the bread and wine of the memorial , because it wasn’t instituted till later , however the language seems plain enough to me , if we heard a young couple talking about wedlock would we conclude that it had nothing to do with thier marriage because the day hadn’t arrived yet but set for another couple of years ? The witnesses say those verses have to do with exercising faith in jesus only , however what do they… Read more »
Is your question about when we are sealed or how we are sealed?
@Meleti Vivlon. Both how and when would be very interesting topics.
Thank you for the clear article!
Meleti it’s more about the manifestation of the spirit in a person’s life , to me it seems that in bible times for the most part the manifestation was quite dramatic, unlike today , it just seems different that’s all ,
The fundamental question is WHY – why does WT work so hard to impede and prohibit its followers from partaking? There is a hint in how I worded this question: “its followers”. Not Christ’s followers. WT clearly understands that being called “anointed” bestows a degree of power. The more power their followers have, the less WT has for itself. WT has done everything it can to diminish this threat to their own power. How? 1. They assert that (a) the Revelation number 144,000 is literal, and (b) only members of the 144,000 can partake. These are false assertions. A clear-eyed… Read more »
Point 3 Robert , what you said about having to prove that your anointed , they quote romans 8 v16 with regard to themselves , saying it’s a personal conviction , ie gods spirit bears witness with our spirit , And according to the insight book is an inner reaction based on what we read in the bible , not some mysterious voice , but when I qouted the same verse and the same line of reasoning they didn’t like it , and questioned the validity , ok we know many are invited but few chosen but why can’t they… Read more »
For some time, I have felt the idea that many being called but few chosen is a distinction between many being called to be God’s children but few are chosen to be future kings and priests. If that is a correct understanding, it would allow for all true Christians to partake even though a limited number might be anointed.
Looking at the whole of matthew 22 Robert the illustration has a fulfilment in the rejection of the jews of jesus Christ and his kingdom firstly , the invitation then went out to people of the nation’s many of whom who were not suitable delegates at the wedding , and showed it by thier garments , perhaps referring to a failure to put on the Christian personality although having a formal invitation were rejected , this seems to agree with other verses in the bible like matthew 7 v 21 , revelation 2 and 3 , illustrations of the wheat… Read more »
A very worthy article, Meleti. Personally, I have found that one of the simplest ways to reason on this precious truth is by means of only two scriptures (one of which you used in your commentary): 1) Also, he took a loaf, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them, saying: “This means my body which is to be given in YOUR behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” – Luk. 22:19 2) Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of… Read more »
Sound reasoning, Vox Ratio. Thanks. I’ll be able to use that in the future in discussions with friends, assuming any will still talk with me. 🙂
“Did Jesus tell us to partake as a symbol of being chosen? Did he give us a warning that if we partake without getting some signal from God, that we would be sinning?” Like a brother in a previous post commented “the apostles who partook that night were not anointed as at that day,their anointing was over 50 days later at Pentecost. Had the apostles been JW they would have been ” respectful ” observers. This doctrine is the most erroneous in my opinion. Whether one rules as kings in heaven or not was not a criteria, Jesus said the… Read more »
If you arw no longer an active Witness, may I kindly ask in what manner do you partake? Do you attend the yearly memorial and quietly partake, or do you do so on your own? Just a curiosity. Perhaps since I am newly dis-engaged with the congregation I am curious.
I appreciated your insightful commentary above
At first I did so with another local couple. Now our local group has grown, and we combine our memorial with others who we meet with online. But as Jesus said, when two or three are gathered in his name, there he is with them.
I wish I could remember where I first read this, but a while back some commenter wrote to the effect that “JWs have an annual ritual called the Memorial in which they reject the body and blood of Christ”.
Such a profound statement in so few words.
Hopefully, as more people wake up, they will realize it is WT that should be rejected, and not the body and blood of Christ.
We have to reject the notion, ‘I am not worthy’. The truth is, THEY are not worthy.
“As the bread and wine were passed during the yearly commemoration of the Lord’s Evening Meal, I joined my brothers and sisters in refusing to partake. I did not view it as a refusal however. I saw it as an act of humility.” There is something deeply disturbing and weird in this teaching of JW and influence that have on the R&F. Now (after my awakening), for me it is little bit scary that public refusal of the taking bread and wine, direct command of our Lord, and possible impact that this can have on relationship with him and Jehovah.… Read more »
Notice this key point from the passage above: “56 He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me forth and I live because of the Father, he also that feeds on me, even that one will live because of me.” Jesus is telling us that the primary reason he was alive was because of his Father. That is, Jesus was alive because he was the son of the living God. So it is his sonship that was the most important… Read more »