NO. 691: SOME THOUGHTS FOR THE MEMORIAL

by Epiphany Bible Students


No. 691

“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)

The date for celebrating the Memorial to our Lord in 2015 is Wednesday April 1, 2015 after 6:00 p.m. The calculation is based on the new moon (in Jerusalem) nearest the spring equinox (March 21, 12:45 a.m.) which is March 20, 2015, 11:36 a.m. Thus Nisan 1 commences on March 19 at sundown. Counting forward from Nisan 1, Nisan 14 commences on April 1 at sundown.

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The supper which our Lord instituted “in remembrance” of His great sacrifice for our sins and “for the sins of the whole world,” (1 John 2:2) is striking in its appropriateness and its simplicity. Throughout history great men have sought to perpetuate their memories by very different means, by reminding their followers of their great deeds and qualities, not by a reminder and commemoration of their death, especially if, as in our Lord’s case, it was a shameful death as a criminal. Jesus did not, as others might have, leave instructions to His followers to strike medals commemorating His mighty works such as the awakening of Lazarus, or the stilling of the tempest on the sea, or the triumphal entry into Jerusalem while the multitude strewed the way with palm branches and cried, Hosanna to the King, the heir of David!

No, our Lord chose to be remembered by His mightiest work – His sin-offering on our behalf – the work which His real followers, and they alone, would appreciate more than any other of His works. His followers, as well as the world in general, would have appreciated something commemorative of His wonderful words or works, but the value of His death as our ransom-sacrifice, the basis of our reconciliation and atonement, has never yet been fully appreciated by any but the consecrated Little Flock, the Elect. It was for those that the Memorial, the remembrance, was arranged and instituted. And although a Judas was present, he was given a sop and went out from the others before the supper was ended. This no doubt represents that in the close of the Gospel Age, before the Little Flock will have finished their part of having fellowship with their Lord in His suffering, the sop of truth will have become so strong as to drive forth from the company and communion of the faithful all who do not rightly appreciate and value the ransom accomplished by the Lamb of God for the taking away of the sins of the world. (1 John 2:19)

THE PROPER DATE

The date of the Paschal Supper at which the Jews ate a lamb, commemorative of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage and of the sparing of their first-born at that time, was of course calculated by the Jewish method of reckoning time; viz., lunar time. (Exod. 12:2-14) Instead of dividing the months as we do, they allowed the new moon to mark the beginning of a new month; and the difference between the sun time (solar time) and moon time (lunar time) was equalized every year by always beginning the new year with the appearing of the new moon about the spring equinox. The Jews still maintain this method of reckoning in celebrating their religious festivals. And since our Lord, the Apostles and the early Church followed this same rule for determining the date for the annual celebration of our Lord’s Last Supper, we also follow it.

Beginning with the first of Nisan the Hebrews counted, and on the tenth day the Paschal lamb was selected from the flock. On the fourteenth day (the full of the moon), at any time between 6 p.m. of the 13th and 6 p.m. of the 14th of Nisan, the lamb was to be killed and eaten.

As the sun symbolizes Christ’s Kingdom, so the moon symbolizes Israel as a nation. (Rev. 12:1) The twelve and sometimes thirteen lunations symbolize the tribes of Israel. The moon was at its full at the time of Christ’s crucifixion. There it immediately began to wane and waned for as long as it had previously increased. So Christ’s death was the turning point between the two equal parts of Israel’s history. (See Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. II., p. 218)

As those Jews who were unclean, and hence could not keep the Passover properly in its proper season, were permitted to do so on the fourteenth of the second month (at the full of the next moon, Num. 9:8-13), the lesson taught seems to be that all prevented (by ignorance) from accepting Messiah as their Redeemer when offered to them, will have an opportunity of doing so when, in the “times of restitution of all things,” (Acts 3:21) their nation (moon) shall again be full of blessings in the latter harvest.

Their Passover Feast began on the fifteenth day and lasted seven days, the first and the seventh days being observed as especially holy, as Sabbath days. (Exod. 12:16) On the sixteenth day the omer of the firstfruits of the barley harvest was offered to the Lord, and fifty days after (Pentecost Day) they offered before the Lord two wave loaves. (Lev. 23:17)

These things done by the Jews every year were, as we have already seen, types of greater and grander occurrences. The choosing of the lamb on the tenth day typified how, if Israel would be blessed and recognized as first-born in the antitypical Passover, they must accept Jesus then, five days before that Passover Feast, and four days before His crucifixion. And it evidently was on that very date that our Lord offered Himself finally to that nation – when, as their King, He rode into the city on the colt. (Compare John 12:1,14,15) However, they did not receive the Lamb of God, were rejected at once, and ceased from being the typical first-born.

The fourteenth day was the day in which the Paschal lamb was to be killed and eaten; and the Hebrew counting of time (doubtless divinely arranged for this very purpose) permitted the eating of the “Last Supper” upon the same day that the Lord was crucified. The Passover supper of lamb and herbs and unleavened bread (fulfilling the Law, which was not ended until the cross) was eaten shortly after 6 p.m. The institution of the Memorial Supper of bread and wine then followed, representative of the body and blood of the antitypical lamb. This thereafter, as often as the occasion returned (yearly), was to be observed by His followers instead of the eating of the literal lamb – as the commemoration of the antitypical lamb and the greater passing over of the antitypical first-born.

The waving of the barley sheaf of firstfruits on the 16th of Nisan (“the morrow after the Sabbath” or Passover of the 15th – Lev. 23:5,6,11,15,16) typified the resurrection of Christ our Lord, as “the firstfruits of them that slept.” (1 Cor. 15:20)

The two wave loaves offered on the fiftieth day, Pentecost, represented the presenting of the Church before God and its acceptance through the merit of the great High Priest, indicated by the anointing of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Church really is but “one loaf” (1 Cor. 10:17), the two loaves representing the same thing as the two goats presented on the Day of Atonement. It indicated that, although all presented were acceptable to God through Christ Jesus, He yet knew that all presented would not come up to the condition of faithfulness to the end. The two loaves represented, therefore, the two classes of the consecrated, the overcoming Little Flock and the “great company” of consecrated servants of God who do not make the high calling theirs by overcoming the world.

The method of calculating the date for Good Friday and Easter Sunday in vogue in Christendom differs from the foregoing in this: the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox is celebrated as Easter Sunday, and the preceding Friday is recognized as Good Friday. This method of counting was instituted by the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325, instead of the Jewish method which we recognize, although the name “Passover” continued to be used (not Easter Sunday) for a long time afterward. The name “Easter” was substituted for “Passover,” after Papacy had become established in political influence, and the ignorant pagans began to flock to the system which enjoyed the favor of the government. The pagans had been in the habit of celebrating, at about the same time as the Passover, the festival of their goddess whose name is thought to be derived from the ancient word for spring, eastre. The adoption of the name “Easter” was one of the many methods used by an ambitious clergy for gaining numbers and influence.

Sometimes the two methods of counting, Jewish and Roman Catholic, indicate the same days, but not often; and occasionally their results are nearly a moon or month apart.

We do not celebrate the feast-week but the day previous, the 14th of Nisan, beginning on the evening of the 13th. This was the proper date for killing and eating the Paschal lamb and consequently is the anniversary of the death of our Lord Jesus, the true Lamb of God, because of whose sacrifice the Church of the firstborn is passed over from death unto life (by faith or reckonedly while still in the flesh but actually in “the first resurrection”). The antitype of the Passover Feast week is found in the rejoicing of heart of all the firstborn of true Israel, the seven days signifying the perfection or completeness of the joy and the salvation.

While we have given the details as to the calculation of the date, we attach no importance or bondage to the exact anniversary day. We recognize no such bondage upon those made free by Christ. For though desirous of observing the Memorial Supper properly, upon its proper anniversary, as intended by our Lord when He said, “This do ye [every time you celebrate this yearly memorial] in remembrance [lit., for commemoration] of me,” we esteem it more as a privilege than as a duty; and if we should err in calculating the date, through ignorance or misunderstanding, we believe the Lord would accept our good intentions, and forgive the error and grant His blessing. Indeed, we believe that the Lord owns and accepts the good intentions of many of His children who, because of erroneous teachings and human traditions, select various other times and seasons for celebrating this memorial of His death, instead of its anniversary which He designated. Similarly we would sympathize with the patriotic intentions of any who would celebrate the independence of the United States three, four, or fifty times a year, forgetful of the date, or ignorant of the fact that the Fourth of July is the anniversary of the event, and was appointed as the appropriate date for celebrating it.

This like other truths long buried under the rubbish of the Dark Ages, God is now making clear to His people. And all who are truly His people are anxious for the truth and the right upon this, as upon all other subjects revealed in God’s Word.

YE DO SHOW THE LORD’S DEATH

“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament [covenant] in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” (1 Cor. 11:23-26)

There is no necessity for discussing with honest minds what is and what is not meant by the expression, the Lord’s death. Some, anxious to get away from the doctrine of the ransom and the logical deductions associated with it, claim, regardless of all Scripture to the contrary, that our Lord Jesus had two deaths, one when He came into the world, and the other at Calvary; and that the death of the “man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:5,6) at Calvary, was of small importance as compared with the other. They seem willingly ignorant of the fact that the Scriptures declare, “For in that he died, he died unto sin once;” (Rom. 6:10) and that this one death, the only one ever referred to by our Lord or His Apostles, was the death at Calvary.

This one and only death of our Redeemer is what is symbolized by this Memorial (this remembrancer). His body, His flesh was broken for us, and all who would have life everlasting must partake of its merits and life. “Let no man deceive you by any means,” on this important question. (2 Thess. 2:3)

But as water baptism is not the important baptism but only the symbol representing the real baptism, so partaking of the emblematic bread and wine is only the symbol of the more important feast – our appropriation of the merit of Christ, which secures to us eternal life through His broken body and shed blood. Thus by faith accepting His finished sacrifice, and by similar faith, as instructed by Him, appropriating to ourselves all the merits and perfections and rights which the man Christ Jesus possessed and laid down in death for us, we really feed our hearts upon the bread of everlasting life, the bread which God sent to us from heaven. (John 6:33) This is the true bread of which, if men will eat, they will never die – the flesh which He gave for the life of the world, that all the dead and dying race may have life. This is, primarily, what the literal bread symbolizes and signifies to all who partake of it rightly and intelligently. It is a Memorial of the ransom of Adam and His family from the bondage of sin and death.

Note that the bread was unleavened. Leaven is corruption, an element of decay, hence a type of sin, and the decay and death which sin works in mankind. So, then, this symbol declares that our Lord Jesus was free from sin, a lamb without spot or blemish, “holy, harmless, undefiled.” (Heb. 7:26) Had He been of Adamic stock, had He received His life in the usual way from any earthly father, He too would have been leavened with Adamic sin, as are all other men; but His life came unblemished from a higher, heavenly nature, changed to earthly conditions; hence He is called “the bread which came down from heaven.” (John 6:41) Let us then appreciate the pure, unleavened, undefiled bread which God has provided, and so let us eat of Him – by eating and digesting the truth, and especially His truth – appropriating to ourselves, by faith, His righteousness; and let us recognize Him as “the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)

The Apostle, by divine revelation, communicates to us a further meaning in this remembrancer. He shows that not only did the loaf represent our Lord Jesus individually, but that after the Church have thus partaken of Him (after having been justified by appropriating His righteousness), they by consecration, become associated with Him as part of the one broken loaf – food for the world. (1 Cor. 10:16,17) This suggests the thought of the privilege of the Church as justified believers to share in the sufferings and death of Christ, the condition upon which they may become joint-heirs with Him of future glories, and associates in the great work of blessing and giving life to all the families of the earth.

This same thought is expressed by the Apostle repeatedly and in various figures of speech, but none of them more forceful than this, that the Church, as a whole, is the “one loaf” now being broken. It is a striking illustration of its union and fellowship with its Head. We quote: “Because there is one loaf, we, the many [persons] are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf.” “The loaf which we break, is it not a participation of the body of the anointed one?” (1 Cor. 10:16,17, Diaglott)

The “fruit of the vine” represents the sacrificed life given by our Lord. “For this is my blood [symbol of life given up in death] of the new testament [covenant], which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” “Drink ye all of it.” (Matt. 26:27,28)

It was by the giving up of His life as a ransom for the life of the Adamic race, which sin had forfeited, that a right to life may come to men through faith and obedience under the New Covenant. (Rom. 5:18,19) The shed blood was the “ransom [price] for all,” which was paid for all by our Redeemer Himself; but His act of handing the cup to the disciples, and asking them to drink of it, was an invitation to them to become partakers of His sufferings, or, as Paul expresses it, to “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ.” (Col. 1:24) It was the offer to the Church that if they, after being justified by faith, voluntarily partook of the sufferings of Christ, by espousing His cause, it would be reckoned to them as though they had part in His sacrifice. “The cup of blessing, for which we bless God, – is it not a participation of the blood [shed blood – death] of the Anointed one?” (1 Cor. 10:16, Diaglott) Would that we all might realize the value of the “cup,” and could bless God for the opportunity of the Church to share with Christ His “cup” of sufferings and shame that they might be assured that they will be glorified together with Him. (Rom. 8:17)

Our Lord also attached this significance to the “cup,” indicating that it signified the participation of the Church in His dishonor, its share in His sacrifice – the death of its humanity. For instance, when asked by two of His disciples for a promise of future glory in His throne, He answered them: “Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?” On their hearty avowal He answered, “Ye shall drink indeed of my cup.” (Matt. 20:22,23)

What is the full significance of the expression, “till he come”?

Since our Lord, who instituted the Memorial Supper, placed no limit upon its observance, this expression by the Apostle is not to be understood as limiting the length of time in which it will be appropriate to commemorate the death of our Lord Jesus, our ransom sacrifice, and our consecration with Him. Rather, He is showing that it was not to be considered a limited arrangement, for a few years, but was to be continually observed until the Lord’s second coming. When speaking of the second coming of our Lord, the Apostle includes in his expression the gathering and exaltation with Christ of His Church or Kingdom to rule and bless the world. The Christ, Head and body, is coming to rule the world in power and great glory. Even though the Kingdom may be considered as begun from the time the King began the exercise of His great power (Rev. 11:17) in 1878, it will not be set up, in the full sense of the word, until the last member of the Kingdom has been changed or glorified – until the breaking of the “loaf,” the Church, Head and body, is complete.

It is the coming of Christ as including the full exaltation of His Church or Kingdom that the Apostle evidently meant when he said, “For as often as ye eat this [Passover] bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death [as your hope and confidence] till he come.” [1]The same thought of the Kingdom glory being the end of the symbol may be gathered from our Lord’s own words on the occasion of the institution of the memorial – “I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” (Matt. 26:29)

And surely if it were ever proper and expedient for those who believe that our Lord’s death was the ransom-price for sinners to confess it – to show it forth as the basis of all their hopes – it is now, when this foundation doctrine of God’s Word is being traduced and misrepresented.

Let all who hold fast the confidence of faith in His precious blood (his sacrificed life) as the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world, be more zealous and fervent than ever before in confessing this great truth; “For even Christ our passover [sacrifice] is sacrificed for us; Therefore, let us keep the feast.” (1 Cor. 5:7,8)

WHO MAY PARTAKE?

The Lord’s Supper is not for the world, nor for merely nominal believers, but only for those who accept Christ as their Redeemer and sin-bearer, and are consecrated to Him and His service. But it is not for us – nor for any man or set of men – to decide who may and who may not partake. It is our duty to point out from the Word of the Lord what are the proper qualifications for participation in the “cup” and in the “loaf,” and then to say as did the Apostle: Let every man examine himself, and then, if he think proper, let him partake. (1 Cor. 11:28)

Now that God’s people are emerging from the errors of the Dark Ages, when this Memorial can be more clearly understood, the judging or examining of one’s self can be more thorough than ever before. Let each ask himself:

(1) Do I believe the Scripture teaching that I, as a member of the human family, was under that condemnation to death which passed upon all because of original sin?

(2) Do I believe that my only hope of escape from that condemnation of sin and death was through the ransom-sacrifice of the man Christ Jesus, my Lord?

(3) Do I believe He gave Himself – His flesh and blood, His humanity – as my ransom-price, pouring out His soul unto death, making His soul a sin-offering (Isa. 53:10,12) on this behalf?

(4) Do I see that the consecration to death, made at Jordan when He was baptized, was fulfilled by His sacrifice of Himself for mankind, which beginning there, was finished on the cross when He died?

(5) Do I see that the rights under the Law, which He secured by obedience to it (the right of lasting life and the dominion of earth), were what He through that same sacrifice bequeathed to the fallen, dying race – to as many as shall accept the blessings under the conditions of the New Covenant?

(6) Do I see that His flesh and blood, thus sacrificed, stood for, represented, those blessings and favors which they purchased for us?

(7) Do I see that the partaking of the bread and wine symbols of His flesh and blood signifies my acceptance of those favors and blessings which the flesh and blood of my Lord bought for me and for all?

(8) And if I do thus heartily accept of the ransom thus memorialized, do I consecrate to the Lord my entire being, my flesh and blood, justified through that ransom?

If we can answer these questions affirmatively we clearly or fully discern the Lord’s body, give credit to His meritorious sacrifice and may eat, should eat.

Those, however, that deny that a ransom for sin and sinners was required and given, who feel that they need not to partake of Christ’s merit, who deny that the merit of one can be imputed to another, who have cast off the wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness, who feel happier and freer in the filthy rags of their own righteousness, and who now consider the precious blood wherewith they were once sanctified a not-holy or an ordinary thing – such we advise to stay away from memorializing that in which they no longer believe; for they would merely be adding hypocrisy to unbelief. For such to partake, is to add condemnation to themselves and their no-ransom theories.

But, better still, let us advise all who have merely been entrapped into this error, by the sophistries promulgated through various channels by the great Adversary, to reject all vain human philosophies and to receive again the simple Word of God, the truths therein set forth: that all are fallen, and that the only way open for our reconciliation and restitution consistent with the divine law and sentence was the giving of the full and exact corresponding price or ransom for our sins; that in no other way could He be just and yet justify sinners. Let them recognize the fact that our Lord Jesus, as the Lamb of God, bore the full penalty for our sins in His own body on the tree, that He gave full ransom for all.

The philosophy is very plain, but if such cannot grasp it, at least let such grasp the fact that God declares it to be so, and let them return unto the Lord and He will abundantly pardon. Let them ask for the guidance of the spirit and the anointing of the eyes, that they may be able to comprehend this, the foundation of all the grace of our God in Christ. Thus in true acceptance of the broken body and the shed blood, realizing that the sacrifice was for their sins and that the blood shed [life given] seals the New Covenant for all, let them commemorate the greatest event of history, the shedding of the precious blood, the sacrifice of the precious life of God’s dear Son for our sins.

Many in the past have partaken of the emblems of the Lord’s body and blood without fully appreciating the philosophy of the ransom, who nevertheless did so with reverent appreciation of the fact that the death of our Redeemer had purged us from our guilt and relieved us from its penalty. Such discerned the real significance of the Memorial, but because of gross errors associated with the truth, they did not discern its simple philosophy as many of us may now do.

HOW TO PARTAKE

If there are in your neighborhood others of God’s consecrated people besides yourself, you should know it. Your faithful love for them and for the truth should have led you to seek them out to bless them with the truth shortly after you yourself received it. If there are such with whom you can have communion and fellowship invite them to join you in the Memorial; but not if you know them to be deniers of the ransom, lest you assist in bringing additional condemnation upon them.

Meet with few or many, as circumstances will permit, but better far with a few who can enter with you into the spirit of the Memorial, than with a throng devoid of that spirit of fellowship and union in Christ.

Provide for the occasion, if possible, unleavened bread (or crackers), such as the Lord used, and such as Jews now use; because the pure, sweet, unleavened bread best symbolizes the sinless flesh of the Lamb of God, who knew no sin (of which leaven is a symbol), who was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from the race of sinners. Provide some drink from “the fruit of the vine,” as the Lord directed. Undoubtedly He and the disciples used light wines, and we regard wine as unquestionably the more appropriate symbol; but since our Lord did not stipulate wine, but merely the “fruit of the vine,” we can conceive of no objection that can be urged against unfermented grape juice. And surely this would be “the fruit of the vine” as much as wine is.

The Memorial service should be very simple – it is chiefly a season of communion. Have a table in the midst of the assembly for the bread and wine. After the singing of a hymn one of the brethren should, in a few chosen words, express the object of the service and read a few verses from the Scriptures on the subject; another might then give thanks for the bread of life, the broken body of our Lord; after which the unleavened bread should be passed to all the communicants. An opportunity for remarks on the bread of life might here be given. Then a prayer of thanks for the cup, and for the precious blood symbolized in it, should be offered, and the cup of “fruit of the vine” passed. Here an opportunity might be given for remarks on the precious blood. But avoid discussions at this meeting. However appropriate to contend earnestly for the faith on other occasions, this is not such an occasion. This is a meeting for fellowship and communion with the Lord, our Redeemer and present King. If any seem contentious, let him have his say, and let the others refrain from discussion, that the holy moments of special communion, which the Master appointed for our blessing, be not marred.

Of the first Supper it is written: “And when they had sung an hymn, they went out.” (Matt. 26:30) Let us do the same. Let each go to his home with his heart full. We suggest the omission on this occasion of the usual, general and proper after-meeting greetings, and all commonplace remarks and thoughts, that we may thus prolong our communion and fellowship with the Master. Keep within sight of Him throughout the next day. Hear the clamor of the people against the guileless one; see them incited by the clergy of Jerusalem; see Him before Herod and his soldiers; see Him arrayed in robes of mock-royalty and crowned with thorns, then buffeted and spat upon.

See Him crucified as a criminal, and taunted with the very gracious deeds which He had performed – “He saved others; himself he cannot save.” (Matt: 27:42) Remember that He could have saved Himself; that He could have asked for and would have received, “more than twelve legions of angels” (Matt: 26:53) to deliver and protect Him; that He could have destroyed His enemies and villifiers, instead of dying for them; and that our hope of a resurrection and everlasting life depended upon His willing offering of Himself as our ransom-price. Considering His love for us and for all it will surely strengthen us as His followers.

(Based on Pastor Russell Reprint No. 2270)

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FURTHER THOUGHTS

“When the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51) The determination of Jesus as expressed in this text offers an example in perfection of the grace of patience in its true biblical meaning – ­cheerful continuance in well doing amid contrary cir­cum­stances. His course herein was against all human concepts as viewed by the natural man; hence, Peter said to Him, “Be it far from thee Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” And Jesus gave him appropriate correction: “Get thee behind me, Satan: …thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matt. 16:22,23) Jesus knew full well that the “fulness of the time” (Gal. 4:4) had come – that it was not the time to wait for His enemies to come to Him (which, had He done, would have dis­played only the passive grace of longsuffering) – ­that the active aggressive grace of patience should now be perfectly revealed in and by Him. And, “hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21)

Be it noted that those who condem­ned Jesus to the cross were not the beggarly elements of that time, not the irreligious; it was the “good” people who were guilty of that – those who would not cross the Gentile door lest they should be defiled for the feast. As He was, “so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17) The heathen Pilate strove to avoid the tragic miscarriage of justice; and it was the high priest of Israel who “hath the greater sin” in the matter. (John 19:11) It was those people schooled in the Law, who sat down and “watched him there” – watched the tragedy of the cross as the idly curious might watch a street‑corner side show – watched the final hours of agony of the Lord of Glory with a calloused indifference that would be unbelievable were it not written in the sacred record. (Matt. 27:36)

And Jesus, knowing in the final hours of that awful night, that He had finished the work God gave Him to do, resigned Himself to what was to be. (John 17:4) The time for contro­versy had passed – “this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53); so He held His peace. “No man taketh it [my life] from me, but I lay it down of myself.” (John 10:18) There is in this a lesson for us, too: The day previous and the day following our observance of the Memorial should be a time of calm meditation insofar as lieth in us.

Nor should we allow (in the words of the poet) “the maddening maze of things” to make us bitter or morose or hateful. It is a time at which we should lift our minds to the highest spiritual levels possible – to repose in the sublime reflections of the past, to “consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself.” (Heb. 12:3) “To be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:6) And again, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 14:17) Nor should we allow those of contrary disposition to deter us in these resolves. As it was in Jesus’ day, so it has been all through the Age: “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” (Rev. 2:9) As we have now come into “the evil day” when “the end of all things is at hand,” let us embrace with full determination the Apostle’s admonition to above all things have fervent love among yourselves. (1 Pet. 4:7,8) Jesus stated of this time in which we live: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold,” but, “he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matt: 24:12,13; Mark 13:13) These words are a warn­ing to all; and blessed are they who give ear to them. “The leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypoc­risy” abounds in all quarters; but God’s faithful people will accept and do – particu­larly at this season – what St. Paul admonishes: “Purge out therefore the old leav­en.” (Luke 12:1; 1 Cor. 5:7)

In the type the lamb was taken up five days before it was killed; and that was typ­ical of Jesus, the Greater Lamb, presenting Himself to the Jews on Palm Sunday, five days before He was “lifted up.” (John 12:32) But there was another compelling reason for the five­ day interval: That most memorable of nights, when the Angel of Death would “Pass over” the Jewish firstborn, was not to be approached flippantly or carelessly. As each family took up its own lamb, and removed all leaven from the home, the course of these five days would put them into a proper mental attitude and contrition of heart for that awe­some night. And this is well in keeping with St. Paul’s words to all who commemorate the antitype: “Let a man examine himself” – not five minutes before the service, per­haps in public confessionals; not just an hour before the service; but let each do so in “sincerity and truth” during the days preceding it. (1 Cor. 5:8) As most of us know, Brother Johnson always counseled all to read Brother Russell’s treatise on the Passover in Vol­ume 6; and we now counsel the same. Over the years this writer has each year read Exo­dus 12 five days before the Memorial, with the Berean Comments; then the same with the pertinent writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – one each day, with the Berean Comments. This has always proven most refreshing and helpful for this writer to “exam­ine himself”; and we venture the opinion that any who follow this, or a similar course, will most likely eat and drink worthily in full discernment of the Lord’s body and blood.

(By Brother John Hoefle, excerpt from No. 20, March 15, 1957)

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“IN THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW”

Sister Ruth Roach of Trinidad, West Indies finished her course on October 24, 2014 at the age of 97. She came into the Truth at an early age and remained faithful to the end. When such good brethren leave us we feel a deep sadness. We will miss the frequent inspiring letters she wrote to us throughout the years and we mourn her passing with her family and friends. She is now asleep in Jesus awaiting the resurrection of the Just. (Acts 24:15)

 

[1] We believe the command would apply also to those faithful ones here in the end of the Age who are not a part of the spirit-begotten Church of the Firstborn, because the merit of our Lamb has been tentatively imputed to all such – to the extent that the New Covenant cannot begin to operate toward the world until that embargo against Christ’s merit has been removed.