Part 17—“Your Will Be Done on Earth”
After Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, Jehovah God baptized him from heaven with holy spirit, thus appointing him to be the “King for enforcing the supreme will” in the new world of righteousness. He became the symbolic “rock-mass” upon which his congregation of followers was to be built. He began gathering followers who were to become “the holy ones who will govern” with him in his heavenly kingdom over the new world. On Thursday night, Passover night, the 14th day of Nisan, A.D. 33, he first celebrated the Jewish Passover with his faithful eleven apostles. Then he introduced what is called “the Lord’s evening meal.” He broke a loaf of unleavened bread and offered it to them to eat, saying that it represented his perfect human body that was to be sacrificed in behalf of human sinners. Then he offered them a cup of wine to drink, telling them that the wine stood for his blood in these words: “This means my ‘blood of the covenant’ which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.”—Matt. 26:27, 28.
10. What was the covenant to which Jesus referred in connection with his blood, and what did he thus indicate was just ahead?
10 The covenant that Jesus here brought to the apostles’ attention required this blood. But which covenant was this? Not the old Law covenant with God that had been mediated by the prophet Moses at Mount Sinai. By the time of the Lord’s evening meal that Law covenant had been operating for over fifteen hundred years, for it had been put in force by the shedding of blood of animal victims. On this the apostle Paul says: “Neither was the former covenant inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment according to the Law had been spoken by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of the young bulls and of the goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop and sprinkled the book itself and all the people, saying: ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God has laid as a charge upon you.’ And he sprinkled the tent and all the vessels of the public service likewise with the blood. Yes, nearly all things are cleansed with blood according to the Law, and unless blood is poured out no forgiveness takes place.” (Heb. 9:18-22) Hence, Jesus in speaking of his own lifeblood as the “blood of the covenant” meant that a new and grander covenant resting upon his perfect human blood was immediately ahead. According to Luke 22:20, Jesus said: “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf.”
11. At Jesus’ mention of the new covenant, of whose prophecy must his apostles have been reminded, and upon what basis must this covenant rest in order to provide for forgiving sins?
11 In introducing this “new covenant” Jesus used the same form of words that Moses had used when inaugurating the old Law covenant with natural Israel, namely, “the blood of the covenant.” At Jesus’ mention of a new covenant the apostles must have remembered Jehovah’s promise, in Jeremiah 31:31-34: “‘Look! There are days coming,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and I will conclude with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah a new covenant; . . . I will put my law into the midst of them, and in their heart I shall write it. And I will become their God, and they themselves will become my people.’ ‘And they will no more teach each one his companion and each one his brother, saying, “Know Jehovah!” for they will all of them know me, from the least one of them even to the greatest one of them,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘For I shall forgive their error, and their sin I shall remember no more.’” This new covenant could provide no basis for Jehovah God to forgive human sins and error and remember them no more unless it rested on the poured-out blood of a perfect human victim, equal to the perfect man Adam in the Edenic sanctuary. The perfect man Jesus, in letting his sinless blood be poured out in death, was acting as the mediator of this new covenant between God and man.
12. In contrast with those in the old Law covenant, who are those taken into the new covenant, and in what way are their unity and their likeness of privilege shown?
12 The people who had been taken into the old Law covenant through Moses were Israelites, natural Jews according to the flesh. Those taken into the new covenant must be spiritual Israelites, Jews inwardly whose circumcision is that of the heart and not of the fleshly foreskin, being thus of the house of spiritual Israel and of the house of spiritual Judah. (Rom. 2:28, 29) Such Israelites or Jews according to the spirit make up the congregation that Jesus Christ said he would build upon himself as the “rock-mass” or petra. Being one congregation in the new covenant, such spiritual Israelites or Jews show their unity and their likeness of privilege by eating and drinking the same special things, just as the people of Jehovah under Moses “all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink.”—1 Cor. 10:3, 4.
13. At celebrating the Lord’s evening meal, how does the congregation, although made of many members, show its oneness, as stated by the apostle Paul?
13 Using this fact as an argument for the unity of spiritual Israelites with one another and with their God Jehovah, Paul goes on to say concerning the celebrating of the Lord’s evening meal: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of the Christ? The loaf which we break, is it not a sharing in the body of the Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, although many, are one body, for we are all partaking of that one loaf.” (1 Cor. 10:16, 17) Although the congregation of spiritual Israel is made up of many members, eventually 144,000 members, yet they are one integrated, unified body. This oneness as a body they display by partaking or eating of the one loaf of unleavened bread served at the yearly celebration of the Lord’s evening meal. That one loaf is an emblem of the sacrificed body of Jesus Christ, upon which they feed in common participation by their active, fruitful faith every day of the year. That emblematic cup for which they bless God likewise stands for something they share in common, and that is the precious lifeblood of Jesus Christ. By faith in his blood they gain forgiveness of sins and justification or a righteous standing with Jehovah God. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more, therefore, since we have been declared righteous now by his blood, shall we be saved through him from wrath.” (Rom. 5:8, 9) Race, color, earthly nationality, language, social position do not disunite this one congregation.—Gal. 3:28, 29.
14. To what do the loaf of bread and the cup really call attention, and with whom do the partakers really have communion, and why may they therefore not commit idolatry?
14 The Lord’s evening meal powerfully calls attention to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, especially in behalf of his congregation of spiritual Israelites. Because of this perfect human sacrifice which was offered to Jehovah God and of which they partake by faith, they cannot engage in any idolatry but must render exclusive devotion to God. The table of the Lord’s evening meal with its wine cup is symbolically the “table of Jehovah” with the “cup of Jehovah.” Its cup pictured Jesus’ blood of the covenant. His blood was foreshadowed by the blood of the animal victims with which Moses inaugurated the old Law covenant long previous. According to the account in Exodus 24:3-8, the blood that was used to put that old covenant in force included the blood of peace offerings or “communion offerings to Jehovah.” Now when a peace or communion offering was presented, the blood, fat and vital organs of the victim were offered to Jehovah; the priest officiating at the altar got a prescribed portion, and the offerer and persons with him ate the remainder. (Lev. 3:1-17; 7:11-15, 28-34) In this way by their communion sacrifices the ancient Israelites ate in communion with Jehovah God at his altar table. In like manner the spiritual Israelites, when celebrating the Lord’s evening meal, are holding communion not only with one another but, most importantly, with God. They cannot at the same time practice idolatry and so have communion with demons. Paul says:
15. How does Paul point this out to celebrators of the Lord’s evening meal?
15 “Look at that which is Israel in a fleshly way: Are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers with the altar? What, then, am I to say? That what is sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No; but I say that the things which the nations sacrifice they sacrifice to demons, and not to God, and I do not want you to become sharers with the demons. You cannot be drinking the cup of Jehovah and the cup of demons; you cannot be partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’ and the table of demons.”—1 Cor. 10:18-21; Mal. 1:6-8, 12, AS.
16. What, therefore should this yearly evening meal help the celebrators to refrain from, and in remembrance of what do they celebrate?
16 The celebrating of the Lord’s evening meal each year on the fourteenth day of Nisan, lunar calendar, should strengthen the partakers to refrain from every form of idolatry and to yield exclusive devotion to the only living and true God, Jehovah, who provided his Lamb Jesus Christ for us. Jesus did not tell his followers to celebrate his birthday, the exact date of which is not given in the Bible, as human birthday celebrations were pagan. However, he did enjoin upon his faithful congregation of spiritual Israelites a celebration. This was the “Lord’s evening meal” that he instituted in Jerusalem that Passover night. He “took a loaf and, after giving thanks, he broke it and said: ‘This means my body which is in your behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.’ He did likewise respecting the cup also, after he had the evening meal, saying: ‘This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood. Keep doing this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’” And the apostle Paul comments on this, saying: “For as often as you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives.” (1 Cor. 11:23-26) In this way Jesus told us to celebrate his death, not his birth.
17. When and how often have Jehovah’s modern witnesses celebrated the Lord’s evening meal, and since what date, according to reports?
17 In obedience to this arrangement and command of the Lord Jesus Christ, Jehovah’s dedicated, spirit-begotten people, whom he has brought into his new covenant, have celebrated the Lord’s evening meal yearly on the anniversary of when Jesus introduced it, on Nisan 14, since the 1870’s according to published reports.*
18. How have they tried to partake of the emblems without bringing judgment upon themselves?
18 In the unleavened bread and the wine used on that occasion they have discerned the perfect human body and the blood of the Lord Jesus, with heartfelt gratitude. They have endeavored to show the proper respect and appreciation toward these precious provisions for salvation, that they might not partake of the emblems in a manner that undervalued these things. They have had in mind the apostle Paul’s warning: “Consequently, whoever eats the loaf and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty respecting the body and the blood of the Lord. First let a man approve himself after scrutiny, and thus let him eat of the loaf and drink of the cup. For he that eats and drinks eats and drinks judgment against himself if he does not discern the body. That is why many among you are weak and sickly and quite a few are sleeping in death. But if we would discern what we ourselves are, we would not be judged. However, when we are judged, we are disciplined by Jehovah, that we may not become condemned with the world.”—1 Cor. 11:27-32, 20, 21.
19. Since 1932 in particular, what great crowd has been attending the Lord’s evening meal celebration, and why?
19 Particularly since celebrating the Lord’s evening meal on Sunday, March 20, 1932, after sundown, multitudes of sheeplike persons, the “other sheep” of the Right Shepherd Jesus Christ, have been attending the yearly celebration, not to partake of the emblems, but to observe. For example, at the celebration on Thursday, April 3, 1958, after sundown, there was a reported attendance of 1,150,000 at meeting places of Jehovah’s witnesses worldwide. Of this total number merely 15,000 partook of the loaf and cup. The “great crowd” of other sheep did not partake, for they appreciated that they are not of the congregation of spiritual Israelites in the new covenant that was validated by Jesus’ blood. They know, too, that Jesus set up this evening meal with those who were to be taken into the covenant for the Kingdom. In his table discussion following the new evening meal, Jesus said to the eleven faithful apostles: “You are the ones that have stuck with me in my trials; and 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 22:28-30) The observing “other sheep” have personal Scripture evidence that they are not in that Kingdom covenant.
20. What did Jesus do to the eleven apostles who fled from him at his betrayal, and when were they brought into the nation of spiritual Israel?
20 True, these eleven apostles did flee and leave Jesus when he was arrested later that night in the garden of Gethsemane. But after he was raised from the dead on the morning of Nisan 16, Jesus appeared to his fearful disciples, who were assembling underground. Forty days later he made his final appearance to them. He told them that God’s kingdom would not be restored to the earthly nation of Israel and instructed them to remain in Jerusalem until God’s holy spirit arrived upon them. Then, before their eyes, he ascended heavenward out of their sight. Two angels that then appeared said to them: “This Jesus who was received up from you into heaven will come thus in the same manner as you have beheld him going into heaven.” (Acts 1:1-11) Ten days later, on the festival day of Pentecost at Jerusalem, Jesus Christ at his Father’s right hand in heaven began baptizing with the holy spirit. With a miraculous demonstration he poured it upon the 120 gathered disciples. They were thus begotten by the spirit to be God’s spiritual children and were brought into the newborn nation of spiritual Israel.
21. Into what covenant were they taken through Jesus’ blood, and for what purpose were they anointed and sanctified?
21 As spiritual Israelites they were taken into the new covenant through the poured-out blood of the Mediator Jesus Christ and were made the people for the name of Jehovah, His witnesses. They were anointed to be heirs of the Kingdom with Jesus Christ and were thus taken into the covenant for the Kingdom with him, the Heir and Lord of King David. By this anointing with the spirit they were also commissioned or ordained to preach the good news of the Kingdom to all nations. By the sanctifying power of the holy spirit they were made “saints” or holy ones, “a holy nation.”—Acts 2:1-38; Rom. 8:15-17;1 John 2:20, 27; 1 Pet. 2:9.
ORGANIZING THE CONGREGATION ON THE ROCK-MASS
22. When did Jesus begin building his congregation upon the rock-mass, and whom did he use as secondary foundations?
22 On that Pentecostal day of baptizing his followers on earth with holy spirit Jesus began building his congregation on himself as the rock-mass (petra). Long before then Jehovah had used the twelve sons of Jacob (Israel) to be the foundations of the nation of Israel, composed of twelve tribes. (Gen. 49:1, 2, 28) Copying that as a type, Jesus Christ used his twelve faithful apostles as secondary foundations built upon himself. He pictured his congregation as a city with twelve foundations: “The wall of the city also had twelve foundation stones, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Rev. 21:14) But to show that the glorified Jesus in heaven is the all-supporting foundation, the apostle Paul said to the congregation: “You are fellow citizens of the holy ones and are members of the household of God, and you have been built up upon the foundation of the apostles and [Christian] prophets, while Christ Jesus himself is the foundation cornerstone. In union with him the whole building, being harmoniously joined together, is growing into a holy temple for Jehovah. In union with him you, too, are being built up together into a place for God to inhabit by spirit.”—Eph. 2:19-22.
(To be continued)
See Zion’s Watch Tower, the issue of April, 1880, page 8, under the title “Christ Our Passover,” paragraph 3.