On March 27 of this year, we will be commemorating the memorial of the death of Jesus Christ online using Zoom technology. At the end of this video, I will be sharing the details of how and when you can join us online. I have also put this information into the description field of this video. You can also find it on our web site by navigating to beroeans.net/meetings. We are inviting anyone who is a baptized Christian to join us, but this invitation is especially directed to our former brothers and sisters in the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses who have realized, or are coming to realize, the importance of partaking of the emblems that represent the flesh and blood of our redeemer. We know this can often be a hard decision to reach due to the power of decades of indoctrination from the Watchtower publications telling us that partaking is only for a chosen few thousand individuals but not for the millions of Other Sheep.
In this video, we will be considering the following:
- Who really should partake of the bread and wine?
- Who are the 144,000 and the “Great Crowd of Other Sheep”?
- Why don’t most Jehovah’s Witnesses partake?
- How often should we commemorate the Lord’s death?
- Finally, how can we join the 2021 memorial online?
On the first question, “Who should really partake of the bread and wine?”, we’ll start by reading Jesus’ words in John. (I’m going to be using the New World Translation Reference Bible throughout this video. I don’t trust the accuracy of the 2013 version, the so-called Silver sword.)
“I am the bread of life. YOUR forefathers ate the manna in the wilderness and yet died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.” (John 6:48-51)
It is pretty clear from this that to live forever – something we all want to do, right? – we have to eat of the living bread which is the flesh Jesus gives on behalf of the world.
The Jews didn’t understand this:
“. . .Therefore the Jews began contending with one another, saying: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 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.” (John 6:52, 53)
So, it is not just his flesh that we must eat but also his blood which we must drink. Otherwise, we have no life in ourselves. Is there any exception to this rule? Does Jesus make a provision for a class of Christian who does not have to partake of his flesh and blood to be saved?
I haven’t found one, and I challenge anyone to find such a provision explained in the publications of the Organization, much less in the Bible.
Now, the majority of Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand and were offended by his words, but his 12 apostles remained. This prompted Jesus to ask a question of the 12, the answer to which virtually every Jehovah’s Witness I’ve asked gets wrong.
“. . .Owing to this many of his disciples went off to the things behind and would no longer walk with him. Therefore Jesus said to the twelve: “YOU do not want to go also, do YOU?”” (John 6:66, 67)
It is a very safe bet that if you asked this question to any of your witness friends or relatives, they will say that Peter’s answer was, “Where else will we go, Lord?” However, the real answer was, “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life…” (John 6:68)
This is a very important distinction, because it means that salvation does not come from being somewhere, like inside an “ark-like organization”, but rather by being with someone, that is, with Jesus Christ.
While the apostles did not understand the meaning of his words then, they understood very soon when he instituted the commemoration of his death using the symbols of the bread and wine to represent his flesh and blood. By partaking of the bread and wine, a baptized Christian is symbolically representing his acceptance of the flesh and blood that Jesus sacrificed on our behalf. To refuse to partake, is to refuse what the symbols represent and therefore to reject the free gift of life.
Nowhere in Scripture does Jesus speak of two hopes for Christians. Nowhere does he speak of a heavenly hope for a tiny minority of Christians and an earthly hope for the vast majority of his disciples. Jesus only mentions two resurrections:
“Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28, 29)
Obviously, the resurrection to life would correspond to those who partake of the flesh and blood of Jesus, because as Jesus himself said, unless we partake of his flesh and blood, we have no life in ourselves. The other resurrection—there are only two—is for those who practised vile things. That is obviously not a hope that is being extended to Christians who are expected to practice good things.
Now to address the second question: “Who are the 144,000 and the “Great Crowd of Other Sheep”?
Jehovah’s Witnesses are told that only 144,000 have the heavenly hope, while the rest are part of a great crowd of other sheep who will be declared righteous to live on earth as friends of God. This is a lie. Nowhere in the Bible are Christians described as being friends of God. They are always described as being God’s children. They inherit everlasting life because God’s children inherit from their Father who is the source of all life.
Regarding the 144,000, Revelation 7:4 reads:
“And I heard the number of those who were sealed, 144,000, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel:…”
Is this a literal number or a symbolic one?
If we take it as literal, then we are obliged to take each of the 12 numbers that are used to sum this number as literal also. You can’t have a literal number that is the sum total of a bunch of symbolic numbers. That makes no sense. Here are the 12 numbers that total 144,0000. (Display them alongside me on screen.) That means that from each tribe of Israel an exact number of 12,000 must come out. Not 12,001 from one tribe and 11,999 from another. Exactly 12,000 from each, if indeed we are talking a literal number. Does that seem logical? Indeed, since the Christian congregation which includes Gentiles is spoken of as the Israel of God at Galatians 6:16 and there are no tribes in the Christian congregation, how are these 12 literal numbers going to be extracted from 12 literal, but non-existent tribes?
In Scripture, the number 12 and multiples thereof refer symbolically to a balanced, divinely ordained administrative arrangement. Twelve tribes, 24 priestly divisions, 12 apostles, etcetera. Now notice that John doesn’t see the 144,000. He only hears their number called out.
“And I heard the number of those who were sealed, 144,000…” (Revelation 7:4)
However, when he turns to look, what does he see?
“After this I saw, and look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands.” (Revelation 7:9)
He hears the number of those sealed as 144,000, but he sees a great crowd which no man is able to number. This is further evidence that the number of 144,000 is symbolic of a large group of people in the balanced, divinely ordained administrative arrangement. That would be the kingdom or government of our Lord Jesus. These are from every nation, people, tongue, and notice, every tribe. It is reasonable to understand that this group would include not only Gentiles but Jews from the 13 tribes, including Levi, the priestly tribe. The organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses has coined a phrase: “The great crowd of other sheep”. But his phrase exists nowhere in the Bible. They would have us believe that this great crowd do not have the heavenly hope, but they are depicted standing before the throne of God and offering sacred service in the holy of holies, the sanctuary (in Greek, naos) where God resides.
“That is why they are before the throne of God, and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them.” (Revelation 7:15)
Again, there is nothing in the Bible to indicate that the other sheep have a different hope. I’ll put a link to a video on the other sheep if you want to understand in detail who they are. Suffice it to say that the other sheep are mentioned only once in the Bible at John 10:16. There, Jesus is differentiating between the flock or fold that was the Jewish nation to whom he was speaking, and other sheep that were not of the Jewish nation. Those turned out to be the gentiles that would enter into the flock of God three and half years later after his death.
Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the 144,000 is a literal number? This is because Joseph F. Rutherford taught that. Remember, this is the man who also launched the “Millions now living will never die” campaign that predicted the end was coming in 1925. This teaching has been fully discredited and for those who wish to take the time to study the evidence, I will put a link to an extensive article proving that point in the description of this video. Again, suffice it to say that Rutherford was creating a clergy and laity class. The other sheep are a secondary class of Christian, and continue to be so down to this day. This laity class must obey all the dictates and commands issued by the priestly class, the anointed class, comprising in its leadership the governing body.
Now to the third question: “Why don’t most Jehovah’s Witnesses partake?”
Obviously, if only the 144,000 can partake and 144,000 is a literal number, then what you do with the millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses who are not part of the 144,000?
That reasoning is the basis upon which the governing body gets millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses to disobey a direct command of Jesus Christ. They get these sincere Christians to believe they are not worthy to partake. It is not about being worthy. None of us are worthy. It is about being obedient, and much more than that, it is about showing true appreciation for the free gift being offered to us. As the bread and wine is passed from one to another at the meeting, it is as if God is saying, “Here, dear child, is the gift I offer to you to live eternally. Eat and drink.” And yet, the Governing Body has managed to get each and every Jehovah’s Witness to reply back to go, “Thank you, but no thank you. This isn’t for me.” What a tragedy!
This presumptuous group of men starting with Rutherford and continuing on down to our day have induced millions of Christians to turn their nose up at the gift that God is really offering them. In part, they have done this by misapplying 1 Corinthians 11:27. They love to cherry pick a verse and ignore the context.
“Therefore, whoever eats the loaf or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty respecting the body and the blood of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:27)
This has nothing to do with getting some mystical invitation from God that allows you to partake. The context clearly indicates that the apostle Paul was speaking about those who treat the Lord’s evening meal as a chance to overeat and get drunk, while disrespecting the poor brothers who also attend.
But still some might counter, doesn’t Romans 8:16 tell us that we have to be informed by God to partake?
It reads: “The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:16)
That is a self-serving interpretation imposed on this verse by the organization. The context of Romans does not bear out that interpretation. For example, from the first verse of the chapter until the 11th of that chapter, Paul is contrasting the flesh with the spirit. He gives us two choices: to be led by the flesh which results in death, or by the spirit which results in life. None of the other sheep would want to think they are being led by the flesh, which leaves them only one option, to be led by the spirit. Romans 8:14 tells us that “for all who are led by God’s spirit are indeed God’s sons”. This completely contradicts the watchtower doctrine that the other sheep are only God’s friends and not his sons, unless they want to admit that the other sheep are not led by God’s spirit.
Here you have a group of people who broke away from false religion abandoning such blasphemous teachings as hellfire, the immortality of the human soul, and the Trinity doctrine to name only a few, and who are actively preaching the kingdom of God as they understand it. What a coup it was for Satan to subvert this faith by getting them to refuse to become part of the seed destined to take him down, because by refusing the bread and the wine, they are refusing to become part of the prophesied seed of the woman of Genesis 3:15. Remember, John 1:12 tells us that all who receive Jesus by putting faith in him, are given “authority to become God’s children”. It says “all”, not just some, not just 144,000.
The annual JW commemoration of the Lord’s evening meal has become little more than a recruitment tool. While there is nothing wrong with commemorating it once a year on the date we understand it actually occurred, although there is great dispute over that, we should understand that the first century Christians did not confine themselves to only an annual commemoration. Early church writings indicate that the bread and the wine were shared regularly at congregation gatherings which were usually in the form of meals in the homes of Christians. Jude refers to these as “love feasts” at Jude 12. When Paul tells the Corinthians to “keep doing this as OFTEN as you drink it, in remembrance of me” and “WHENEVER you eat this loaf and drink this cup”, he was not referring to a once-a-year celebration. (See 1 Corinthians 11:25, 26)
Aaron Milavec writes in his book which is a translation, analysis, and commentary of the Didache which is “the preserved oral tradition whereby made it first century house churches detail the step-by-step transformation by which Gentile converts were to be prepared for full active participation in the assemblies”:
“It is difficult to know precisely how the newly baptized responded to their first Eucharist [Memorial]. Many, in the process of embracing the way of life, created enemies among those who regarded them as shamelessly abandoning all piety – piety to the gods, to their parents, to their ancestral “way of life.” Having lost fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and workshops, the newly baptized were now embraced by a new family that restored all these abundantly. The act of eating together with their new family for the first time must thus have been made a deep impression upon them. Now, at last, they could openly acknowledge their true “father” among the fathers present and their true “mother” among the mother’s present. It must have been as though their whole lives were pointed in this direction: that of finding brothers and sisters with whom they would share everything – without jealousy, without competition, with gentleness and truth. The act of eating together foreshadowed the rest of their lives, for here were the faces of their true family sharing, in the name of the Father of all (the unseen host), the wine and bread that were the foretaste of their unending future together.”
This is what the commemoration of Christ’s death should mean to us. Not some dry, once-a-year ritual, but a true sharing of Christian love, really, a love feast as Jude calls it. So, we invite you to join us on March 27th. You’ll want to have some unleavened bread and some red wine at hand. We will be holding five memorials at different times to correspond to the different time zones in the world. Three will be in English and two in Spanish. Here are the times. To get the information on how to link up using zoom, go to the description of this video, or check out a meeting schedule at https://beroeans.net/meetings
Australia and Eurasia, at 9 PM Sydney, Australia time.
Europe, at 6 PM London, England time.
The Americas, at 9 PM New York time.
Europe, 8 PM Madrid Time
The Americas, 7 PM New York Time
I hope you can join us.