God’s Word Is Alive
Who Should Partake?
ON MARCH 29, after sundown, there will be thousands of meetings around the world such as the one that you see above. This is a celebration of the memorial of the death of Jesus Christ. Notice the bread and the wine that are to be passed. Who should partake of these emblems?
What Jesus said to his 11 faithful apostles when he instituted this memorial meal helps answer that question. When he passed the cup of wine to his apostles, he said: “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf.” (Luke 22:20) So with the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, a “new covenant” was put in force. What was the ‘old,’ or “former,” covenant that it replaced?—Hebrews 8:13.
This was the Law covenant. It was made with the nation of Israel shortly after they escaped captivity in Egypt. Moses was the go-between, or mediator, of that covenant made between Jehovah God and the Israelites (just as Jesus is the “mediator of a new covenant”). It was the sacrifice of animals at Mount Sinai that put the Law covenant in force. (Hebrews 9:15-20) But it is noteworthy that there was a vast mixed company of non-Israelites who escaped from Egypt along with the Israelites. And although they enjoyed benefits as a result of this covenant, they were not included in it.—Exodus 12:38, 43-45, 48, 49.
There is a similar situation with the new covenant. Only Christians referred to as “the Israel of God” are taken into this covenant with Jehovah God. (Galatians 6:16) Jesus spoke of this limited number of Christians as a “little flock.” (Luke 12:32) However, there is a “great crowd” of other Christians, referred to by Jesus as his “other sheep.” (Revelation 7:9, 10, 14; John 10:16) Although these enjoy benefits from the new covenant, they are not included in it.
The apostle John showed the distinction between these two groups who benefit from Jesus’ sacrifice when he explained about Christ: “He is a propitiatory [sin-covering] sacrifice for our sins [sins of the “little flock”], yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.”—1 John 2:2.
So, then, at the celebration of the memorial of Christ’s death, only those who make up “the Israel of God” should partake of the emblems of bread and wine. This body of spiritual Israelites will number 144,000, who will rule with Christ in his heavenly Kingdom. (Revelation 14:1) On the other hand, the vast international company of “other sheep,” who do not partake, will enjoy everlasting life on the Paradise earth, receiving the benefits of the Kingdom rule.
[Picture on page 8, 9]
“OTHER SHEEP” AND “LITTLE FLOCK”