A Special Invitation to You
The time: the evening of Tuesday, April 17.
The occasion: the annual Memorial of Christ’s death.
The place: the local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
You are cordially invited to attend.
WHY will it be profitable for you to be present on this occasion? Because it has to do with the kind of government under which all lovers of righteousness will live in God’s new order, now near at hand. If you believe in good government, you will be greatly encouraged by this meeting.
This annual celebration, instituted by Jesus Christ the night before his death, is a communion meal. But it is no common meal to satisfy hunger. Rather, it features certain symbolisms of great significance to us all. Four Bible writers provide us with accounts of this observance. Jesus had completed the Jewish Passover meal with his apostles on the evening of Nisan 14 of the Jewish calendar, in the year 33 C.E. During the Passover meal he had dismissed the traitor Judas. (John 13:26, 27, 30) The historian Luke reports what then took place:
“He [Jesus] 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; Matt. 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; 1 Cor. 11:23-26.
Jesus’ words, “keep doing this,” are a command to all Christians in the new covenant to come together for this observance. However, this memorial is also of interest to others, to all persons who love justice and right and who desire to live in peace and unity with others. By understanding the meaning of the Memorial celebration, you can get the answers to the primary questions of life. You may have asked some of them: Why do all people die? Is there hope of a resurrection for the dead? Will the earth ever be ruled in peace and justice? Do all good persons go to heaven, or will some be able to live forever here on earth?
THE NEW COVENANT
On the night of this symbolic meal, Jesus said that his blood validated the “new covenant.” What is the new covenant? It is a ‘contract’ between Jehovah God and a definite number of persons specially selected, “chosen, precious, with God” to be a “royal priesthood.”—1 Pet. 2:4, 9.
Jesus Christ is Mediator of this covenant. The apostle Paul writes: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6) The shedding of his blood was necessary, because those taken into the new covenant are sinners, having inherited sin and imperfection from Adam. (Rom. 5:12) Christ’s ransom sacrifice bought back all human life rights and is the basis for forgiveness of sins. Jesus “suffered death, that he by God’s undeserved kindness might taste death for every man,” says the apostle. (Heb. 2:9) Thus God can deal with those in the new covenant as righteous persons.—Rom. 3:23, 24; 8:1.
As Mediator, Christ also helps those in the new covenant to fulfill its terms and to qualify to be kings and priests with him. The apostle Peter writes encouragingly to Christians that, through Christ, God “will himself finish your training, he will make you firm, he will make you strong.” (1 Pet. 5:10) They become firm, trustworthy as maintainers of righteousness. God’s strict qualifications for these prospective rulers of earth are set forth in the Christian Greek Scriptures, commonly called the “New Testament.” The love, devotion and uprightness required of them are described in John 15:12, 17; Galatians 5:22, 23; 1 John 2:15; 4:7, 8; 5:3, and many other texts.
These who prove faithful to death “will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.” (Rev. 20:6) They will, as a body, be Christ’s “wife,” his “bride.” (Rev. 19:7-9; 21:2-4) Under his headship this wifelike body of kings and priests will care for the human family, applying the benefits of Christ’s ransom to mankind, including the resurrected dead. (Acts 24:15; John 5:28, 29) Mankind on earth will then symbolically “eat” of Christ’s flesh as “food” for everlasting life.—John 6:51.
Thus all humankind is affected by what the memorial of Christ’s death stands for. It includes much more than merely meditating on his death. The Lord’s Evening Meal involves a calling to mind of who Christ is, what he did and what he is doing now, his unbreakable devotion to God, his love and firmness for righteousness, his fine personality and his deep, warm love toward us. This symbolic meal is a remembrance of the closest sort, as a brother’s remembrance of his brother, or a son of his father. It is a bringing seriously to our attention Jehovah’s purpose and our personal relationship to God and his Son. The occasion provides a period of soul-searching to ‘test whether we are in the faith, to keep proving what we ourselves are.’—2 Cor. 13:5.
EVIDENCE THAT END OF WICKEDNESS NEARS
The Scriptures show that only 144,000 are selected from among mankind to be sharers with Christ in his Kingdom rule and as underpriests. (Rev. 14:1, 3-5) They are a “little flock” as compared with earth’s billions. (Luke 12:32) This selection began at the time of Christ’s presence on earth more than 1,900 years ago. Obviously, the choosing of these would eventually be completed. At the end of this present corrupt system we could expect only a few to be remaining on earth.
The facts of record indicate that we are indeed near to that end, for only a “remnant” of these remain. How can we know this? Consider these requirements: Those professing to be spirit-begotten, spirit-anointed sons of God, “partakers of the heavenly calling” (the invitation to heaven), have to be engaged unitedly in doing the work that Christ commanded, to “make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Heb. 3:1; Matt. 28:19, 20) They must manifest themselves as being in the new covenant by vigorously preaching and teaching the good news of God’s Messianic kingdom as the only government that can and will bring peace and righteousness to his earth. (Matt. 6:10) These true “sons of God” are “no part of the world,” are not meddling in political affairs or seeking great wealth and prominence.—John 17:16.
These spiritual brothers of Jesus also make public declaration of their heavenly hope by partaking of the unleavened bread and the wine at the Lord’s Evening Meal as joint participants with Christ, “united with him in the likeness of his death” so as also to “be united with him in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Rom. 6:5) When you view the religious people in the world, you indeed find very few of such persons, do you not?
OBSERVERS NOT PARTAKING
However, not all attending this memorial observance are partakers of the emblems served. Jesus said: “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold [of the “little flock”]; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16) They would support the stand the anointed ones have taken and would cooperate in preaching the good news to others. But God has not held out the heavenly invitation to them, just as he did not give the faithful men of old the heavenly calling. Jesus pointed out this truth, saying: “The law and the prophets lasted until John’s time [John the Baptist]; since that time, it is the kingdom of heaven that has its preachers, and all who will, press their way into it.” (Luke 16:16, Knox; compare Psalm 45:16; Hebrews 11:39, 40.) The “other sheep” associates of Christ’s brothers hope to be survivors of this world’s destruction and to enjoy the Kingdom rule with its blessings of life right here on this earth.
The vision in the book of Revelation distinguishes them from the spiritual brothers of Christ when it first enumerates those finally “sealed” as 144,000 persons, just before the winds of destruction strike this earth. Then it describes “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations, . . . standing before the throne and before the Lamb,” also publicly proclaiming the salvation they owe to Jehovah and Jesus Christ.—Rev. 7:1-10.
Jesus foretold the appearance of these persons on the scene in his illustration of the ‘sheep and goats.’ He gave the time setting: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (Matt. 25:31, 32) He said that the “sheep” would do good to his brothers. Since the year 1935, more than a million and a half of these “sheep” have associated with the spiritual brothers of Christ and have been of great help to them in getting the good news preached world wide, aiding others, in turn, to learn of God’s provisions for life.—Matt. 25:34-40; compare Zechariah 8:23.
The Memorial is therefore not an occasion for sadness, but is, rather, one of happiness at the things Christ’s death accomplished. At this commemoration meal, as celebrated by Jehovah’s witnesses, a speaker will explain the meaning and significance of the Memorial. Then the emblems, the bread and the wine, will be served. The simple procedure set by Jesus Christ on that evening 1,940 years ago will be followed. You are cordially invited to come as an observer, to listen and learn and to consider your own relationship to God and his purposes through Christ as brought to your attention on this Memorial occasion.