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

Painting of man holding cup before long angled table of men sitting

Communion of the Apostles, by Fra Angelico, c. 1440-41. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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.