Questions From Readers
● Each year the Society receives a number of inquiries regarding various aspects of the Lord’s evening meal. In reply to these the following is given:
The celebration of our Lord’s death is at once a joyous and a serious occasion. It merits faithful attention to all the details, especially on the part of the congregation overseers, even as we may be certain that Jesus was careful about all the requirements regarding the Passover.
The bread that is used must be unleavened. Its being unleavened pictures Jesus’ sinlessness. His body being perfect and complete, nothing was required to be added to it. So also, nothing such as salt or shortening should be added in the making of the unleavened bread. Besides, to add anything to improve its taste would detract from its being the “bread of affliction.”—Deut. 16:3; 1 Cor. 5:6-8.
Jewish matzos may or may not meet these requirements, this depending upon how they are made. It may be necessary to bake your own unleavened bread, as is done each year at the Brooklyn Bethel. The brother doing the baking uses the following recipe: One cup of (whole wheat) flour mixed with two and a quarter cups of water. Beat thoroughly in a bowl and then pour batter on medium-hot frying pan as if baking pancakes, baking them on both sides. After they become firm place them in a baking pan and bake them in an oven at 325 degrees until crisp.
As for the wine, this should, first of all, be fermented wine. There can be no question about Jesus’ using fermented wine and not grape juice. Grape juice cannot burst old wine bottles. Indeed, it was only because Jesus did not scruple against drinking wine that his foes accused him of being “given to drinking wine.” Besides, grape juice does not remain unfermented from the time of the grape harvest in the fall until spring, the Passover season, the time Jesus instituted the memorial of his death. The testimony of Jewish history confirms that fermented wine was used at the Passover.—Matt. 9:17; 11:19.
The wine must also be red. Only red wine is a fitting symbol of blood; it should be the “blood of the grape.” Further, as the blood of Jesus was wholly adequate, sufficient in itself, requiring no additions, so should the “fruit of the vine” be that is used to picture it. The wine used, therefore, should be unsweetened; most Jewish Passover wines are greatly sweetened and therefore unsuitable. It should also not be fortified; that is, nothing like brandy should have been added to it to increase its alcohol content, as is the case with port wine. Likewise, no herbs or spices should be added to it, as is done with vermouths and such wines as Dubonnet. Homemade, unsweetened red wine is acceptable as also are Burgundy, Chianti, claret and zinfandel, to mention the more common types of red wines.—Deut. 32:14.
The emblems should be on hand and passed to each one present, even though it may seem certain that none profess to be of the remnant. Each one should go on record as to his firm conviction of what his hopes are, heavenly or earthly, on the basis of God’s dealings with him, by partaking or not partaking at the time the emblems are handed to him. Those professing to be of the remnant should therefore not be segregated and the emblems passed only to them. A separate blessing will be asked over first the bread, which should then be passed, and next the wine, which will thus be passed by itself. The cup should be a large and common cup, although several may be used if the congregation is a large one. Fastidious objections to such on the basis of sanitation are not to be considered. Small individual cups cannot picture the common sharing in the blood of Christ, even as small individual wafers, such as are used by the Roman Catholic Church in the Mass, would spoil the picture of one loaf. It should also be noted that there is no need to keep the emblems covered until just before they are served, as this smacks of religious mysteriousness and ceremonialism, which are to be avoided.—Rom. 8:16, 17, 24, 25; 1 Cor. 10:15-17.
Of course, an exception should be made in the case of those of the remnant who, because of infirmity or sickness, are unable to attend. Individual portions are to be supplied to these, regardless of their age or physical condition, by a brother competent to discuss the occasion with them briefly. Such are to be considered as both attenders and partakers. Disfellowshiped persons are not welcome. Should they attend and partake, they would not be counted. Likewise, if any newcomers who are not yet baptized partake of the emblems, they should not be counted.
What if any professing to be of the remnant should, due to circumstances beyond their control, be absolutely prevented from observing the Memorial and partaking of the emblems? It would seem that the merciful and loving provision that Jehovah made for celebrating the Passover a month later by those Jews ceremonially unclean on Nisan 14 would apply in their case. The individual member of the remnant would therefore observe a personal memorial of Christ’s death on the fourteenth day of the following month, Iyar according to the Jewish calendar, or just thirty days later.—Num. 9:9-14.
What remains of the emblems after the Memorial celebration is over may be taken home and eaten the way any other food is. There is nothing particularly sacred about it after the event. But surely these emblems should not be consumed right after the Lord’s evening meal at the Kingdom Hall and in a spirit of levity, as has happened on occasion. “Let all things take place decently and by arrangement” is counsel that is especially appropriate for the Memorial of Christ’s death.—1 Cor. 14:40.