Lord’s Evening Meal: Jehovah’s Witnesses hold Memorial meal

SUNSET FRIDAY, APRIL 3: As Passover begins for Jews around the globe, Jehovah’s Witnesses commemorate an event believed to have occurred on the first night of Passover in approximately 33 CE—the Last Supper, known as the Lord’s Evening Meal to Witnesses.

According to this Christian tradition: Jesus celebrated Passover together with his closest followers in the upper room of the home owned by John and his mother in Jerusalem. Hours before his crucifixion, Jesus instituted a special meal that would become memorialized in the Christian Church. After saying a special blessing over the unleavened bread and wine, and passing them around the table, Jesus announced: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses hold the bread and the wine of the Last Supper as symbolic of Christ’s body. (Learn more from JW.org.) The wine, the representation of Jesus’ blood, made valid a new covenant and ushered in a new practice for all future Christians. Jesus explained that his blood would be poured out for the forgiveness of sins.

Jehovah’s Witnesses point to accounts in Genesis, Jeremiah, Peter and Revelation that describe 144,000 faithful Christians who will go to heaven and serve as kings and priests for all mankind. (Read more from the Watchtower Online Library.) Each year, only a few thousand persons worldwide partake in the annual Memorial meal; all other Jehovah’s Witnesses attend the event but do not partake. Since Passover is only commemorated once per year, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the anniversary of the Last Supper and Jesus’ death should, too, be marked only once per year.


Jehovah’s Witness: Participants, witnesses attend Lord’s Evening Meal

SUNSET MONDAY, APRIL 14: Jehovah’s Witnesses the world over gather tonight for the memorial of the Last Supper and Jesus’s death, better known as the Lord’s Evening Meal. Jehovah’s Witnesses observe the Memorial at the beginning of the Passover period each year.

Across the rest of the Christian world, the Last Supper is remembered later in Holy Week. Jehovah’s Witnesses also mark the evening’s events in a slightly different way: most attend the ritual while only a few thousand, worldwide, actually participate. Jehovah’s Witnesses hold that only 144,000 faithful Christians can be a part of the new covenant that Jesus spoke of during the Passover meal, and that of those, only a few thousand in this generation may partake in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Evening Meal. Other Jehovah’s Witnesses attend the Meal as observers. (Read more at JW.org.)

Jehovah’s Witness: Reflect on the Lord’s Evening Meal

SUNDAY, APRIL 17: The majority of Christians may mark Jesus’ Last Supper in a few days, but tonight, Jehovah’s Witnesses observe the Lord’s Evening Meal. Jesus commanded his followers to “do this in memory of me,” and Jehovah’s Witnesses take Jesus’ words as command, marking tonight as the most important day of the year. The Feb. 1, 2011, edition of Watchtower Magazine—the official publication of Jehovah’s Witnesses that instructs followers—featured an article on the coming Lord’s Evening Meal, so that devotees could begin preparation. Although only a few thousand worldwide are eligible to partake in tonight’s bread and wine, all Jehovah’s Witnesses attend and reflect on Jesus’ love. (Learn more at Watchtower.org, the official site for Jehovah’s Witnesses.)

The Bible states Jesus’ last meal as being on the first night of the Jewish Passover, on Nisan 14 in the Jewish calendar; Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to strictly keep track of the current Nisan 14 date. Since Passover occurs once a year, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus commanded the Evening Meal, also, to take place once per year. (Wikipedia has details on this and other Jehovah’s Witness beliefs.)

Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.