Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Keep Doing This in Rememberance of Me

On the night before he died, Jesus Christ instituted the Lord's Evening Meal, using only leftover unleavened bread and burgundy wine. Many people celebrate this weekly, monthly, or annually. Jehovah's Witnesses celebrate it once a year on the exact day in which Christ instituted it, Nisan 14, which falls on April 9th this year. You are invited to attend.

The Memorial of Christ's Death

After Jesus and his disciples ate the passover meal, the following scene happened. "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.' Also, the cup in the same way after they had the evening meal, he saying: 'This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf.'"-Luke 22:19-20

Many people throughout the world are familiar with this. You may have done this many times, using various substitutes for the bread and the wine. Have you ever thought about what this really means why it is so important to use true unleavened bread and burgundy wine? Let us see.

Unleavened Bread--The Body of Christ

In the Scriptures, leaven, a substance added to bread dough or alcoholic beverages to aid in fermentation, is often used in the Bible to picture sin or corruption. Jesus said, "Watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." (Matthew 16:11) Jesus was employing symbolism on his part to make a point: The Pharisees actions were not always in line with they're teachings, and sometimes they even taught falsehoods. These were as leaven fermenting the pure teachings handed down by Moses.

On another occasion, Jesus said, "Keep your eyes open, look out for the leaven...of Herod." (Mark 8:15) Here, Jesus was exposing the hypocrisy and political treachery of the party followers of Herod.-Mark 3:6

The Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the congregation in Corinth had this fine council. "Do you not know that a little leaven ferments the whole lump? Clear away the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, according as you are free from ferment. For, indeed, Christ our passover has been sacrificed. Consequently let us keep the festival, not with old leaven, neither with leaven of badness and wickedness, but with unfermented cakes of sincerity and truth."-1 Corinthians 5:6-8

All of this occurs in certain context. Paul is here speaking of corrupting influences in the congregation and removing them. (1 Corinthians 5:1-2, 11-13) His above statements are his way of saying that if a wicked person is not removed from the congregation, it could have a corrupting effect on the rest of the congregation. There should be no leaven (sin) so that the entire congregation will not be corrupted.

So, it is obvious that, when different churches use things like crackers or pieces of bread bought at the store, they are not truly appreciating the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who had no leaven, or sin, in his body. Only unleavened bread should be used to picture our sinless Lord and Savior. Anything else is degrading to his sacrifice.

Red Wine--The Blood of Christ

During the Lord's Evening Meal, Jesus Christ used red wine as a fitting symbol of his perfect blood. Many on this occasion believe that using grape juice is sufficient, but this is not the case. Only true wine is a fitting symbol of the blood of our savior. Jesus called it the "product of the vine." (Matthew 26:29) This was seven months after the grape harvest and so it is not in doubt that this was fermented juice of the vine, not mere grape juice.

Concerning the blood of our savior, the Apostle Peter wrote, "But it was with precious blood, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, even Christ’s." (1 Peter 1:19) The wine used was a pure burgundy wine. While many wines have some type of imperfections in them, burgundy wine has very little--a fitting picture of the "precious blood" of our savior.

The Lord's Evening Meal--Who Partakes?

In the world of Christendom today, everyone present at the communion celebration partakes of the bread and the wine. Would it be surprising that only a small number of people are supposed to have this privilege? Yes, it goes hand-in-hand with what Christ Jesus said as he presented the emblems.

As Christ was presenting the wine, he said these words, "This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf." (Luke 22:20) Those who partake of the wine are part of the new covenant. What is the new covenant? Jesus Christ said, "I make a covenant with you, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel." (Luke 22:29-30) Yes, those who partake of those emblems are saying that Christ has made a covenant with them "for a kingdom".

A little earlier in his ministry Jesus told only a few people these words, "Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32) With these words Jesus Christ revealed that the number of people inheriting that kingdom would be "little". It was revealed to the Apostle John how many people it would be.

"And I saw, and, look! the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads...And they are singing as if a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one was able to master that song but the hundred and forty-four thousand, who have been bought from the earth." (Revelation 14:1, 3) Yes, only 144,000 people are bought from the earth. What is their job?

Speaking to Jesus the four living creatures and the 24 elders sing, "You were slaughtered and with your blood you bought persons for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 1and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth." (Revelation 5:9-10) These 144,000 were bought from the earth and are to "rule as kings forever and ever."-Revelation 22:5

If these are to rule as kings in heaven, will they have subjects? Yes, for after John spoke of the 144,000 in Revelation 7:1-8, he then spoke of a "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...These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:9, 14) The Bible says that they are to live on the earth forever.-Psalm 37:11, 29; Matthew 5:5

Is this a "bad" fate for the great crowd? Not at all! I am of the great crowd and I couldn't be more excited. I cannot wait until Jesus Christ and the 144,000 begin their rule over the earth after the "god of this world" is done away with along with all of the wicked people. (2 Corinthians 4:4, New American Standard bible; Revelation 20:10; Psalm 37:10; Proverbs 2:22) The world is going to be a peaceful paradise!

Remembering the Death of Christ

The death of Jesus Christ is the most important event in human history. Ultimately, that is what we come to remember. However, we also have to remember the One who sent him and the love He showed. Why? "For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life."-John 3:16

In the Garden of Eden, Jehovah told Adam and Eve that if they ate from the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad" that they would die. Satan contradicted this saying it was not true. (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-5) Believing this lie, Eve, and then Adam, partook of the fruit. This caused all of us to be sinners with death in view. We were separated and lost.-Genesis 3:6; Romans 5:12

The death of Jesus changed all that. "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed...for he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." (Isaiah 53:5, 12, New International Version) Jesus died so that we might have everlasting life. This is why remembering his death is of the utmost importance. We show that we appreciate his sacrifice when we come together at the Lord's Evening Meal.

Another thing that the death of Jesus did was answer an accusation that Satan raised. In the book of Job we find out that Satan said that man only serves Jehovah when it is convenient for him to do so or when it only benefits him in some way. While originally applying this only to Job, he took it farther and included all humans in the challenge. (Job 1:9-11; 2:4) That is why Jehovah pleads with us: "Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me."-Proverbs 27:11

At the beginning, Adam and Eve were perfect humans who ended up not remaining faithful. Since then, no human ever remained perfectly faithful to God. So Satan insisted that no man--perfect or imperfect--could be faithful. Jesus answered that challenge perfectly. He never sinned, even tempted to the extreme. (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:15, New International Version) He proved that a perfect man could keep integrity towards God. Yes, he proved the one taunting Jehovah wrong and made His Father's heart rejoice.

All of this is kept in mind by Jehovah's Witnesses when we gather to meet for the annual Lord's Evening Meal. You are warmly invited to come gather with them in your area so that you too can remember what Jesus Christ did for us and all that entailed.-Matthew 20:28