“This means my body … This means my ‘blood of the covenant.’”—Matthew 26:26-28
[From ws 01/19 p.20 Study Article 4: March 25-31]
The opening paragraph says, “No doubt most of us can recall the basic details of the Lord’s Evening Meal.”
Why ask such a question? Can all Witnesses “recall the basic details of the Lord’s Evening Meal.”?
Probably all Witnesses can remember the following: (these are the main points the author remembers from the memorials attended over the years)
- Only the Anointed class partake of emblems.
- The Great Crowd, almost all Witnesses, just observe.
- The pedantic way everyone had to be formally handed the plate and cup by someone else even though they were just to pass it on.
- However, not much beyond this other than perhaps feeling a little awkward and left out as just observing.
However, the article continues, making the following accurate points:
“Why? Because the meal is so uncomplicated. However, this is a significant event. So we might ask, ‘Why is the meal so simple?”
These are two good points. Paragraph 2 goes on to state: “During his earthly ministry, Jesus was known for teaching important truths in a way that was simple, clear, and easy to understand. (Matthew 7:28-29)”
Let us examine Jesus simple clear instructions. Then perhaps we can see reasons for perhaps why not all Witnesses remember the main points Jesus gave.
Paragraph 3 points us to the account in Matthew 26 but in doing so makes its first inaccurate and misleading statement. It says, “Jesus introduced the Memorial of his death in the presence of his 11 faithful apostles. He took what was at hand from the Passover meal and made this simple commemoration. (Read Matthew 26:26-28).”
From this, you would understand that that Judas was not there at this time and hence the benefits of the meal did not apply to him. Yet, the account at Luke 22:14-24 shows the evening meal came first. The Bible account shows Judas left a while after this (Luke 22:21-23).
So what simple things did Jesus do?
Luke 22:19 says:
- “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.”
And Matthew 26:27-28 records the event saying:
- “Also, he took a cup and, having given thanks, he gave it to them,
- saying: “Drink out of it, all of YOU; for this means my ‘blood of the covenant,’ which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.
Earlier in his ministry, Jesus made the statement in John 6:53-56 that many of his disciples became stumbled over. The account reads: “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. He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day; for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him.”
These instructions were indeed simple.
All disciples (followers) of Christ should eat the unleavened bread and drink the red wine. They should do it in remembrance of his sacrifice for all humankind. If they did not they would not have everlasting life. It was that simple.
Contrast this with the following teachings from the Watchtower article.
“The simple meal, which he introduced after dismissing Judas,” (Par. 8)
Luke 22:14-23 and John 13:2-5, 21-31 clearly show Judas was there. Mark 14:17-26 does not show when Judas was dismissed, neither does Matthew 26. A likely reason for this wrong claim is so that the partaking of the evening meal can be applied by the Organization to a limited group, rather than all.
“…would remind those who would become his anointed followers of the benefits of Jesus’ shed blood and of sharing in the new covenant. (1 Cor. 10:16, 17) To help them prove worthy of their heavenly calling, Jesus told his followers what he and his Father expected of them.” (par. 8)
Jesus did not make any mention of a heavenly calling nor an earthly calling. He did not say that only anointed followers should partake and all others should only observe. These requirements complicate the simple instructions that Jesus gave.
Rather, he just said, “keep doing this in remembrance of me” and “he who drinks my blood and eats my flesh has everlasting life and I will resurrect him on the last day”.
If we take the meaning of the reverse side of Jesus instructions, we are left with the conclusion that, if we do not eat and drink i.e. partake, to remember Jesus, then we will not get everlasting life. A serious conclusion for all lovers of Bible truth to ponder over.
By contrast, paragraph 10 contains sentiments with which we can have no scriptural issue. It says: ”We can strengthen our courage by thinking about the hope that the ransom sacrifice of Christ makes possible for us. (John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7) In the weeks leading up to the Memorial, we have a special opportunity to build our appreciation for the ransom. During that time, keep up with the Memorial Bible reading and prayerfully meditate on the events surrounding Jesus’ death. Then when we gather for the Lord’s Evening Meal, we will understand more fully the significance of the Memorial emblems and the matchless sacrifice that they represent. When we appreciate what Jesus and Jehovah have done for us and understand how it benefits us and our loved ones, our hope grows stronger, and we are motivated to endure courageously to the end.”
Certainly, reading the scriptures alone, in context, is the key to understanding the simple truth Jesus taught. We are then able to filter out the needless and incorrect complications added by the Organization (and other Christian religions for that matter). Then we can clearly see that Jesus asked us to remember him, and additionally what he did for us by offering his life on behalf of all humankind. He did not complicate it with transubstantiation, consubstantiation, little flock and great crowd, and similar complications, all of which have all been added by man’s interpretations.
In summation, Jesus’ fine qualities of humility, courage and love are submerged in Organization-centric interpretation distracting readers from Jesus simple message. We will therefore reiterate his simple message.
- Jesus said, “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)
- Jesus said all his disciples were to partake, even Judas. “Drink out of it, all of YOU;” (Matthew 26:26-28)
- Jesus said (by implication) without partaking of the unleavened bread and wine we have no opportunity for everlasting life nor resurrection (as a righteous person) (John 6:53-56, Romans 10:9, Beroean Study Bible, ESV)
As to frequency, the scriptures do not say. We can look at early Christian examples, such as mentioned in Althia’s comment and conclude that it was fairly frequent, but the bible doesn’t seem to specify an interval. My personal opinion is that what matter most is the fact that we do partake, as Jesus commanded, whether it be yearly or annually. A friend whom has researched early Christian beliefs has suggested that it was very often and a new convert was given communion immediately, in part because the Roman persecution was so bad that there may not have been many… Read more »
I meant to say, whether it be yearly or WEEKLY.
Under inspiration Paul said the following; Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.” Romans 14:5, ESV: “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Paul went to great pains to explain how festival and other celebration days from the old Law Covenant were now of no real consequence, although if individuals felt that they were still important to them then it would be fine for them to continue to view them as such as long as they did not… Read more »
Alithia, I have now read most of your last post and can comment more fully on it. Two recommendations: First don’t attribute thoughts to posters you disparage that they never made the ideas you, in writing, attribute to them. My second point might help you understand how you are reach wrong conclusions about how ALL Christians MUST analyze scripture and follow it. It is easiest done through an example. You know the statement Christ made about the necessity of eating his flesh and drinking his blood he made in a public environment, and not during his last pass over celebration.… Read more »
Hello Messenger, I think you conclude with the thoughts that are most central to your argument. The we should be mindful of our judgements of others. However a common misconception that many have is that we should not judge others. The simple fact is that we judge all day long. We judge food, the air we breathe, other people’s speech and actions and a million other things throughout life. What Jesus actually said is that we should be careful as to how we judge. We should make good judgements, not be harsh or overly critical in our judgements as were… Read more »
Hello Alithia, Someone getting offended was not my point. My point is that in your rebuttal you attributed ideas to me that I didn’t make, thus building a false argument. Yes we judge all the time true, that goes without saying. That wasn’t my point, and my point had nothing to do with people acting harshly, or even judging unfairly. My second point is that it is dangerous to assume the seat Christ has, and assume we can judge Christians as being Christian or apostate based solely on doctrinal beliefs. Maybe God has not revealed a belief to someone who… Read more »
In John 6:66, many of his disciples left Jesus after her told them to eat his flesh and drink his blood. If he meant it metaphoricalmy, wouldn’t he have call them back to explain that he did not mean it literally?
Also eating his body and drinking his blood does not guarantee eternal life. You need to do it in a worthy manner see 1 Cor 11:27-29.
Jesus often said things in such as way as to test people’s true motivation. By not explaining what he meant, he winnowed down the flock. True believers would be humble enough to wait on an explanation, while others would sieze on it as an excuse to go back to their former ways.
Please see the order of the Passover meal as given by William Barclay. Comparing notes, it is very close to Edersheim’s account. This helps a person get a better understanding of what Jesus and the 12 would have been doing. Based on this we can take an educated guess at which point, Jesus institutes his Memorial. Order of the Passover Feast We must first set out the various steps of the Passover Feast, so that in our mind’s eye we can follow what Jesus and his disciples were doing. The steps came in this order. (i) The cup of the… Read more »
The JW quote alluding to Matthew wasn’t inaccurate. The paragraph reads “He took what was at hand from the Passover meal”, indicating He used what was left to institute the communion. Be sure to stay true to the source’s intent.
Tadua, As ever a good review. Thanks. I have been spending time discussing with various JWs who approach me as they want to know why I partake. I am very careful to use JW literature and found two points in Insight to the Scriptures under “Offerings” and The Lord’s Evening Meal. Under “Offerings” there is a subheading on Communion offerings (or peace offerings). Communion offerings acceptable to Jehovah denoted peace with him. The worshiper and his household partook (in the courtyard of the tabernacle; according to tradition, booths were set up around the inside of the curtain surrounding the courtyard;… Read more »
Eleasar, quite fascinating. Thanks for sharing.
Hello all, and especially in reply to dear Messenger and others who share certain views that Messenger espouses in his last post. Messenger you make quite a few arguments that I think are seriously flawed. You then proceed to bundle them together and present them as proof of what you posit in the first paragraph. “If all Christians were enlightened about the same things, at the same time, then this website would serve no purpose. Christians acceptable to Christ possess different levels of understandings on biblical issues”. You present this as a guiding principle and as if to say true… Read more »
Hi Alithia. Well reasoned comments. I found the Justin Martyr comment well worthy of note, although, according to GraceOnlineLibrary it is from his First Apology.
Thank you for reminding us of the importance of truth. After all, that is probably why many of us became JWs in the first place.
Love and Greetings to you all down under, and anywhere else for that matter.
The JW response is that in Acts 2 the partakers had received Holy Spirit immediately after baptism and were considered anointed.
Hello Alithia, I write from my phone so in the future please limit your response to my comment to one or two issues, if you wish my answered return. I cannot simultaneously see all the points you raised in my small screen, or keep them all in my head. Also, when attributing thoughts to me please only attribute those that I actually state. In the comment above you attribute quite a number of thoughts to me that I never raised, nor do I believe. I don’t see that the listing of those serve any purpose that is not already covered… Read more »
Thank you Tadua for your work! And Alithia thank you for your interesting comment.
Alithia, you said:
“Breaking of bread was never used in a religious or secular sense at the time as signifying taking a meal together or as an invitation to do so. It only occurs with reference to Christians celebrating the Lords Supper!”
This is an important claim. Could you please provide some links or references to back this up.
If all Christians were enlightened about the same things, at the same time, then this website would serve no purpose. Christians acceptable to Christ possess different levels of understandings on biblical issues. And if obeying God’s laws given to the Jews, taught Christians that law could not lead to salvation, then no law could, none made by any group of Christians, not even a list offered by Christ. Thus Christ stated the most important part of that Jewish law was loving God with our whole hearts and minds Mark 12:30. Our minds as used in that scripture primarily includes our… Read more »
Well said, Messenger. WIth love for God and Christ comes understanding. With understanding comes acceptance. With acceptance comes tolerance. As long as we can see that the other person desires to be guided by God and Christ. Much of what love is about is in 1 Corinthians 13, for those that need it explained. As regards truth, Paul says that love “rejoices with the truth”. Of course it does ! But we must all be responsible for the decisions we make. No Christian can use control techniques and call it love, because Christ never did that. Distorting the truth is… Read more »
Partaking was a big step for me. I have probably attended 55 or so Memorials at the Kingdom Hall. A few years back, I couldn’t take it anymore, so I started staying home, passing bread and wine to myself, but abstaining, saying a final prayer, then when the ceremony was over, I polished off the same bread and wine. Finally, last year, I partook, in my own private Memorial. I was surprised by how unemotional the whole thing was. I ate the bread, drank some wine, then finished with a final prayer. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that I… Read more »
I did misunderstand your comment, Bernardbooks. I misinterpreted several comments as being attacks on Tadua. I haven’t read many articles on this web site for a couple of years, which accounts for some misunderstanding, since I didn’t know about any past articles. If possible, ignore what I said. If I have anything to argue about, I’ll save it for another article. Thanks to everybody for the article and comments.
According to WT:
” “Jesus introduced the Memorial of his death in the presence of his 11 faithful apostles.”
The Way I got it figured is that there were 13 Apostles at the table, 12 were faithful and one a betrayer! (Lu 22:21)
How could anyone come up with a different number than 13? (Heb 3:1)
Paragraph 11 says, “To show our heartfelt appreciation, we must loyally commemorate Jesus’ death, just as he commanded.” Comparing the simple meal Jesus had with the organization’s setup shows to me almost no similarities at all with the exception of prayer. •Jesus and his apostles (a small group that could fit in a room in most homes) •Prayer •Eating the bread and drinking the wine in remembrance Compared with, •Campaign to invite everyone in the surrounding neighborhoods to attend a large overcrowded event •Several hundred (Kingdom Hall/Rented facility) to a thousand people (Assembly Hall) all sitting in rows facing forward… Read more »
Was Judas there or not ? How does WT justify its statement that Judas had left before the bread and wine were passed round. The Insight book, under Judas, attempts to explain this by citing Luke 22 28-30 and saying that Judas had definitely left by the time that Christ commended the group for having stuck with him as that would not fit Judas. They also throw in the idea that Luke’s account is evidently not in strict chronological order. Out of all the Gospel writers, I would have thought that Luke would have tried very hard to make sure… Read more »
“Evidently” is a term the Organization uses when they want to teach something without being questioned on it, where actually there is no evidence, but they imply that there is. Of course most Witnesses (including myself in the past) fall for that empty statement and don’t question, where is the evidence for this claim. I agree with you, Luke of all the Gospel writers is likely to have things in the right order. The real issue is that it means that more than the “anointed” should partake, if a to-be sinner like Judas was asked to partake even though Jesus… Read more »
Hi LJ, Yes the answer to how often has been well established. I used to think, why wait once a year. Is it really scriptural or Because of past traditions that the Org. Celebrates it annually? Looking at the teachings from Jesus and the Apostles who and how often is well established in simple truths in the article and comments. It’s like saying to someone you love, let’s catch up for a meal- next year March 20th at 7pm 2020. You good with that. And by the way , I don’t drink wine or grape fruit juice or eat unleavened… Read more »
Hello Lazarus, love the analogy. I think it to be most fitting to the situation. In addition like you, there are many who after having come to the proper understanding have this compelling desire to partake and share in the blood and flesh of Jesus. Like the scriptures say when one is born of Holy Spirit they cry out Abba! The spirit bears witness with their spirit that they are sons of God. Wanting to show appreciation for the sacrifice of the Lord is evidence that Gods Spirit is operating on a person. Could not having this desire or feeling… Read more »
If the text in John 6 about eating the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking his blood is tied in with the evening meal, then I don’t understand why the NWT translates “this is my body…” into “this means my body…” On another note, I think it’s also interesting to bring 1 Corinthians 10:15-22 into the discussion. Verse 17 in particular makes it clear that ALL were partaking of the one loaf. This partaking of the cup and the loaf is likened in verse 21 to partaking of the table of Jehovah. Paul lays this out in contrast… Read more »
Paragraph 5 said,
“he told his disciples that once a year they should remember him by means of this simple meal. (John 13:15; 1 Cor. 11:23-25)”
Did Jesus specify to his disciples that they should have this meal once a year?
I think the anonymous writer of this article assumes that the organizational tradition is what Jesus said.
1 Corinthians 11:25, 26
“Keep doing this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.
For whenever you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he comes.”
That’s a good question Bernard, personally I like to break bread 3 to 4 times a week with the Lord instead of just once a year. The JW’s do it once a year but even at that they don’t break bread. I would do it everyday but I know the Lord is busy and may not always have time for little ol me, but I’m ok with that. (Is 28:10)
From what I understand the first century Christians had this meal about once a week. And it was a full meal, with no officiating clergymen where the bread was broken and passed around. Not the solemn, painfully boring occasion the JW’s make it into.
See the book Pagan Christianity for more details.
Have read this book and love it, it gives great insight into many matters including how the early Christians understood the Lord and his instructions regarding the celebrating of the Lords Evening Meal.
First century Christians probably celebrate the Lord’s supper (breaking bread) once a week, on the Lord’s day (first day of the week – Sunday) – Acts 20:7. Or “daily” – Acts 2:46. There is no mention in the Bible that the Lord’s supper must be celebrated once a year under solemn ceremonial procedure; but “whenever”.
Tadua is reviewing a WT article. The review is limited in length. The issue about the frequency of celebrating the Lord’s Supper is just one of numerous possible lengthy digressions Tadua could have made, because Christians have disagreed about many things regarding the celebration. I agree with Tadua that it should be celebrated yearly and that Christians need to partake to have the benefits of the New Covenant. But I won’t try to prove these things. However, if the commenters who disagree with him want to write their own articles on this web site, they will discover their positions will… Read more »
Quibusdam, I also agree that the question “how often” is not crucial for this topic. Tadua, thank you for exact and useful analysis.
I didn’t notice that Tadua had said only to “celebrate the Lord’s last supper only once per year as you indicated. Perhaps he may want to clarify his view with your statement.
Psalmbee (Jn 18:23)
Hello Psalmbee and quibusdam,
I think I may have caused the confusion.
I should clarify I meant the anonymous writer of the watchtower article in my comment above not Tadua’s review article.
Sorry if I caused any confusion.