The Day to Remember
“I have said these things to you that by means of me you may have peace. In the world you are having tribulation, but take courage! I have conquered the world.”—JOHN 16:33.
1, 2. What one day in history stands out from all other days, and why?
THE world today has much to say about peace. At the end of World War II, peace was associated with V-E Day and V-J Day.* Each year, Christmas makes people think of ‘peace on earth.’ (Luke 2:14) But there is one day in the whole of human history that stands out from all others. It is the day on which Jesus Christ spoke the words quoted above. Out of two million and more days that mankind has existed here on earth, it is the one day that completely changed the course of humankind for its eternal good.
2 That momentous day was Nisan 14 on the Jewish calendar. In the year 33 of our Common Era, Nisan 14 started at sundown on April 1. Let us consider the events of that epoch-making day.
3. How did Jesus make use of these final hours?
3 As dusk falls, a lovely full moon likely shines forth as a reminder that Jehovah determines times and seasons. (Acts 1:7) And what is happening in that upper room where Jesus and his 12 apostles have assembled to celebrate the Jews’ annual Passover? As Jesus prepares ‘to move out of this world to the Father, he is showing love for his own to the end.’ (John 13:1) How does he do this? By word of mouth and by example, Jesus continues to instill in his disciples qualities that will help them conquer the world.
Putting on Humility and Love
4. (a) How did Jesus demonstrate to his disciples a basic quality? (b) How do we know that Peter learned the importance of humility?
4 The apostles have yet to rid themselves of a measure of ambitious jealousy and pride. So Jesus girds himself with a towel and proceeds to wash their feet. This is no display of mock humility, as enacted in Rome each year by Christendom’s pope. No, indeed! True humility is a giving of self that springs from a ‘lowliness of mind that considers others superior.’ (Philippians 2:2-5) At first, Peter misses the point, refusing to let Jesus wash his feet. Upon being corrected, he asks Jesus to wash his entire body. (John 13:1-10) However, Peter must have learned the lesson. Years later, we find him counseling others correctly. (1 Peter 3:8, 9; 5:5) How important it is today that all of us slave for Christ in humility!—See also Proverbs 22:4; Matthew 23:8-12.
5. What commandment by Jesus showed the importance of a further key quality?
5 One of the 12 does not benefit from Jesus’ counsel. This is Judas Iscariot. As the Passover meal proceeds, Jesus becomes troubled in spirit, identifies Judas as his betrayer, and dismisses him. It is only after this that Jesus tells his 11 faithful disciples: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:34, 35) This truly is a new commandment, illustrated by Jesus’ own superlative example! As the hour for his sacrificial death approaches, Jesus displays outstanding love. He uses every precious minute to teach and encourage those disciples. Later, he emphasizes the importance of love, saying: “This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you. No one has love greater than this, that someone should surrender his soul in behalf of his friends.”—John 15:12, 13.
“The Way and the Truth and the Life”
6. What goal does Jesus hold before his intimate disciples?
6 Jesus tells the faithful 11: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Exercise faith in God, exercise faith also in me. In the house of my Father there are many abodes. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going my way to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1, 2) This place is to be in “the kingdom of the heavens.” (Matthew 7:21) Jesus states how this intimate group of loyal disciples may attain to their goal. He says: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) This also applies to those of mankind who gain everlasting life on earth.—Revelation 7:9, 10; 21:1-4.
7-9. Why did Jesus describe himself as “the way and the truth and the life”?
7 Jesus is “the way.” The one and only approach to God in prayer is through Jesus Christ. Jesus himself assures his disciples that the Father will give them whatever they ask in Jesus’ name. (John 15:16) Prayers directed to icons or religious “saints” or replete with Ave Marias and repetitious chanting—none of these are heard and accepted by the Father. (Matthew 6:5-8) Further, concerning Jesus, we read at Acts 4:12: “There is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.”
8 Jesus is “the truth.” The apostle John stated of him: “The Word became flesh and resided among us, and we had a view of his glory, a glory such as belongs to an only-begotten son from a father; and he was full of undeserved kindness and truth.” (John 1:14) Jesus became the truth of hundreds of prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures by fulfilling them. (2 Corinthians 1:20; Revelation 19:10) He made known truth in talking to his disciples and the crowds who listened, in his disputing with the hypocritical clergy, and by his living example.
9 Jesus is “the life.” As the Son of God, Jesus said: “He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life; he that disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.” (John 3:36) Faith exercised in Jesus’ sacrifice leads to everlasting life—immortal life in heaven for a “little flock” of anointed Christians and life eternal on a paradise earth for a great crowd of “other sheep.”—Luke 12:32; 23:43; John 10:16.
10. Why do we need to ‘conquer the world,’ and what encouragement did Jesus give in this regard?
10 Those who hope to live in Jehovah’s new system must contend with a world that “is lying in the power of the wicked one,” Satan the Devil. (1 John 5:19) How encouraging, then, are Jesus’ words at John 15:17-19! He declares: “These things I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you.” True Christians have been hated down to this year 1992, and how we rejoice in the fine examples of those who continue to stand firm, humbly finding strength under the mighty hand of God! (1 Peter 5:6-10) All of us can endure trials by exercising faith in Jesus, who concludes his discussion with these heartwarming words: “In the world you are having tribulation, but take courage! I have conquered the world.”—John 16:33.
Introducing a New Covenant
11. What did Jeremiah prophesy concerning a new covenant?
11 During that evening, after the Passover celebration has drawn to a close, Jesus speaks of a new covenant. The prophet Jeremiah foretold this centuries beforehand, saying: “‘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 within them, and in their heart I shall write it. And I will become their God, and they themselves will become my people. . . . I shall forgive their error, and their sin I shall remember no more.’” (Jeremiah 31:31-34) On Nisan 14, 33 C.E., the sacrifice that validates this new covenant is to be made!
12. How did Jesus institute the new covenant, and what does it accomplish?
12 Jesus tells the faithful 11 that he has greatly desired to eat this Passover with them. Then he takes a loaf, gives thanks, breaks it, and gives it to them, saying: “This means my body which is to be given in your behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he passes a cup of red wine to them, saying: “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf.” (Luke 22:15, 19, 20) The new covenant is made operative by Jesus’ “precious blood,” of far greater value than the animal blood sprinkled in validating Israel’s Law covenant! (1 Peter 1:19; Hebrews 9:13, 14) Those taken into the new covenant enjoy complete forgiveness of sins. Hence, they may qualify to be of the 144,000, who receive an everlasting inheritance as spiritual Israel.—Galatians 6:16; Hebrews 9:15-18; 13:20; Revelation 14:1.
“In Remembrance of Me”
13. (a) On what should we reflect at Memorial time? (b) Who only should partake of the emblems, and why?
13 The 1,960th annual Memorial of Jesus’ death falls on April 17, 1992. As that date approaches, we do well to reflect on all that Jesus’ perfect sacrifice accomplishes. This arrangement exalts Jehovah’s wisdom and his deep love for mankind. Jesus’ flawless integrity, even to an agonizing death, vindicates Jehovah against Satan’s taunt that His human creation is faulty and will fail under test. (Job 1:8-11; Proverbs 27:11) With his sacrificial blood, Jesus mediates the new covenant, Jehovah’s instrument for selecting “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession.” While yet on earth, these “declare abroad the excellencies” of their God, Jehovah, who has ‘called them out of darkness into his wonderful light.’ (1 Peter 2:9; compare Exodus 19:5, 6.) Properly, they alone partake of the Memorial emblems each year.
14. How are the millions of observers enriched?
14 At last year’s Memorial, 10,650,158 attended around the earth, but among these only 8,850—less than one tenth of 1 percent—partook of the emblems. Of what benefit, then, is this celebration to the millions of observers? Of great benefit! Though not partaking, they are enriched spiritually by this association with the vast global brotherhood, as they hear of all the grand things that Jehovah accomplishes through the sacrifice of his Son.
15. How do others than anointed ones benefit from Jesus’ sacrifice?
15 Moreover, the apostle informs us at 1 John 2:1, 2: “We have a helper with the Father, Jesus Christ, a righteous one. And he is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.” Yes, Jesus’ sacrifice, while benefiting first the John class taken into the new covenant, provides also for the forgiveness of “the whole world’s” sins. It is “a propitiatory sacrifice” for the sins of all others of the world of mankind who exercise faith in Jesus’ shed blood, which opens up for them the happy prospect of eternal life on a paradise earth.—Matthew 20:28.
“In the Kingdom of My Father”
16. (a) In what do Jesus and his joint heirs now appear to share? (b) What is required today both of the anointed remnant and of the great crowd?
16 Continuing to encourage his apostles, Jesus points to the day when in a symbolic way he will drink the product of the vine new with his disciples in the Kingdom of his Father. (Matthew 26:29) He tells them: “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) Since Jesus took Kingdom power in the heavens in 1914, we may conclude that the greater number of Jesus’ joint heirs, gathered through the centuries, have already been resurrected, to “sit on thrones” with him. (1 Thessalonians 4:15, 16) The day rapidly approaches for the angels to release “the four winds” of “the great tribulation”! By then, the sealing of the 144,000 of spiritual Israel and the gathering of the millions of the great crowd will have been completed. All of these must keep integrity, as Jesus did, in order to receive the prize of everlasting life.—Revelation 2:10; 7:1-4, 9.
17 and box. (a) If an anointed one should be rejected as disloyal, who reasonably might replace him? (b) Watchtower articles in 1938 shed what interesting light on the building and later expansion of the theocratic organization on earth?
17 What if some anointed ones fail to be integrity keepers? At this late hour, the number of such disloyal ones will no doubt be few. Reasonably, any replacement would come, not from among newly baptized ones, but from among those who have stuck with Jesus in his trials through many years of faithful service. The brilliant flashes of spiritual light that came through The Watchtower in the 1920’s and 1930’s indicate that the gathering of the remnant of anointed ones was practically completed during that period. Those ‘washing their robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb’ since then have a different joyful hope. Through Christ, Jehovah’s spirit guides them to “fountains of waters of life” in the Paradise earth.—Revelation 7:10, 14, 17.
A Most Fervent Prayer
18. What powerful lessons do we learn from Jesus’ prayer at John chapter 17?
18 Jesus concludes his Memorial gathering with his disciples by offering the fervent prayer recorded at John 17:1-26. He prays first that his Father may glorify him as he keeps integrity to the end. In this way Jehovah will also be glorified, his name being sanctified—cleared of all reproach. For, indeed, the perfect man Jesus does prove that God’s human creation can be faultless, even under the severest test. (Deuteronomy 32:4, 5; Hebrews 4:15) Further, Jesus’ sacrificial death opens a grand opportunity for Adam’s offspring. Says Jesus: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” How essential it is to acquire accurate knowledge of Jehovah God and of his Son, the Lamb of God, who gave his life for Jehovah’s vindication and for mankind’s salvation! (John 1:29; 1 Peter 2:22-25) Do you appreciate that most loving sacrifice to the extent of dedicating your all to Jehovah and his precious service?
19. How may the remnant and the great crowd enjoy precious unity?
19 Further, Jesus prays to his Holy Father that He watch over the disciples as they prove themselves to be no part of the world, adhere to His word as truth, and maintain precious oneness with the Father and the Son. Has not this prayer been wonderfully answered down to this present day as the anointed remnant and the great crowd serve together unitedly in bonds of love, while keeping neutrality toward the world, its violence, and its wickedness? How precious Jesus’ concluding words to his Father, Jehovah! “I have made your name known to them and will make it known,” said Jesus, “in order that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in union with them.”—John 17:14, 16, 26.
20. Why is Nisan 14, 33 C.E., surely the day to remember?
20 Going out to the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus has further brief, upbuilding association with his disciples. Then his enemies are upon him! Words fail to describe Jesus’ physical agonies, his heartbreaking sorrow at the reproach heaped on Jehovah, and his exemplary integrity through it all. Jesus endures to the end, through the night and throughout most of the daylight hours of that day. He clearly demonstrates his Kingdom to be no part of the world. And with his final breath, he cries: “It has been accomplished!” (John 18:36, 37; 19:30) His world conquest is complete. Nisan 14, 33 C.E., surely is the day to remember!
Victory in Europe Day and Victory over Japan Day.
How Would You Answer?
□ What did Jesus teach concerning humility and love?
□ How did Jesus become “the way and the truth and the life”?
□ What is the purpose of the new covenant?
□ What unity and love are shared by the anointed remnant and the great crowd?
[Box on page 20]
The Wisdom of the Greater Solomon
The articles entitled “Organization” in the June 1 and June 15, 1938, issues of The Watchtower established the basic theocratic arrangement that Jehovah’s Witnesses follow to this day. They climaxed a remarkable period of doctrinal and organizational readjustment that began in 1919. (Isaiah 60:17) In comparing that 20-year period to the 20 years during which Solomon constructed the temple and the king’s house in Jerusalem, The Watchtower said: “The Scriptures show that, after the twenty years of Solomon’s building program . . . , he engaged in a nation-wide building program. (1 Ki. 9:10, 17-23; 2 Chron. 8:1-10) Then came the queen of Sheba ‘from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon’. (Matt. 12:42; 1 Ki. 10:1-10; 2 Chron. 9:1-9, 12) This suggests the question: What is in the immediate future for the people of Jehovah on earth? With full confidence we will wait, and we shall see.” That confidence was not misplaced. Under theocratic organization a vast worldwide spiritual building program has gathered more than four million of the great crowd. Like the queen of Sheba, these have come from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of the Greater Solomon, Christ Jesus—channeled to them through “the faithful and discreet slave.”—Matthew 24:45-47.