“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 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 [proclaim] the Lord’s death till he come.” (1 Cor. 11:24-26)
The time again draws near for us to commemorate the anniversary of our Lord’s Supper, instituted in commemoration of His death as the antitypical paschal lamb – “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) The correct time for 2017 is after 6 p.m. on April 9. The date is determined by this method: The moon nearest the Vernal Equinox becomes new in Jerusalem on March 28 at 5:57 a.m., thus establishing 6 p.m. March 27 as the beginning of Nisan 1, Bible reckoning. Counting forward to Nisan 14, we arrive at 6 p.m. April 9. Any time that evening after 6 p.m. would be proper for the celebration.
Let all the faithful in Christ Jesus, in every place, do this in remembrance of God’s Lamb who redeemed us by the sacrifice of Himself. Such, in every place should assemble together, even if there be but two or three of like precious faith. And even the solitary ones may break the bread and partake of the wine, in heart communion with the Lord and with fellow believers.
TWO PASSOVER MEMORIALS
The subject of the Last Supper is one of the most interesting features of Jesus’ earthly ministry. He knew the Apostles did not know it was to be His last supper with them. Although He had intimated the nearness of His death, His disciples had found it impossible to comprehend that any such disaster could be so near. (Matt. 16:21-22) Jesus, however, with full consciousness of what it meant, was longing for the consummation of His work. It was probably at the close of the very day on which He and His disciples went to eat the Passover that Jesus said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened [in difficulty] till it be accomplished!” (Luke 12:50) It was a baptism into death, which was finished the following day.
Peter and John were the two disciples sent to make ready the Passover. It is supposed that the large upper room in which the Passover was eaten by Jesus and His disciples was the same one in which the Apostles and others later gathered to await the Pentecostal blessing. In the evening of the same day, Jesus with the entire Twelve met in this room, all the preparations having been made to celebrate the Jewish Passover at its appointed time. The lamb had been roasted, and the unleavened bread prepared, also the bitter herbs.
Everything, we may be sure, was exactly in conformity with the original requirement; for Jesus and His Apostles were bound by every feature of the Jewish Law as much as were other Jews. Every feature of the Law was binding up to the time of the Pentecostal blessing, which marked the Divine approval of the sacrifice of Jesus and the Divine acceptance of all those who had become His disciples by a full consecration.
KINGDOM HONORS DESIRED
Far from realizing that they were on the eve of a great tragedy, the Apostles believed that Jesus would very soon be enthroned as King. They remembered His promise that they would sit with Him in His Throne. This promise seemed so near to realization to them that they could think of little else but the degree of honor which they would have in the Kingdom. Perceiving their attitude of mind, Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them . . . But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” (Luke 22:25-26)
These were new standards, difficult for them to understand; and apparently they are still difficult for the followers of Jesus to comprehend fully. The One who will be chief in the Kingdom will be the One who was the chief Servant in the flesh. This greatest Servant of all was, of course, the Lord Jesus Himself. But the Master intimates that the same principle holds good in respect to all of His followers. Whoever of them will most faithfully, most earnestly, most zealously, serve the brethren will thereby be increasing his favor with God, and be preparing himself for so much higher station in Messiah’s Kingdom.
With the thought that any menial service would signify admission of their unworthiness of a high place, the disciples made no arrangement for feet-washing, none wishing to assume the role of servant. In that sandy country feet-washing was almost a necessity when sandals were worn. By way of rebuke, Jesus arose from the table and performed this menial service for His disciples, telling them the significance of the lesson – namely humility – and intimating that no matter how humble a service they might be able to render to each other, they should be glad to render it. (John 13:14-15)
The lesson is still with us: Any humble act of service done to one of the Lord’s brethren corresponds to this feet-washing.
THE CRISIS IN JUDAS’ LIFE
The Passover Supper proceeded – the eating of the lamb with the bitter herbs and the unleavened bread, which resembled a thick pancake, and which was sometimes used instead of a spoon to sop up the essence of the meat. Jesus began to be heavy-hearted, and then said, “One of you shall betray me.” (John 13:21)
There may have been a double object in this statement. First, it showed the disciples that Jesus was fully aware of the premeditated betrayal, so they would not think that something unexpected had happened to Him that was not part of the Divine Plan. Second, our Lord may have meant this as a final reproof to Judas, to cause him to think. A traitor’s course is especially dishonorable when the traitor accepts the hospitality of the one against whom he is plotting and eats his bread.
Consternation spread among the disciples; and one after another they asked, “Is it I?” (Matt. 26:22) The import of this question would be, “It is not I whom you have meant!” Even Judas joined in the general inquiry, “Is it I?” John was seated next to Jesus, and Peter beckoned to him that he should ask the Master who was meant. It was probably a whispered inquiry, heard by Jesus only. Our Lord’s whispered reply was, “He it is, to whom I shall give a sop.” (John 13:23-26) Presently, having prepared a special sop, a mark of special interest, He handed it to Judas. Thus John and Peter knew the truth.
Apparently it was but a short time after this that Judas withdrew, the record being that “Satan entered into him.” (John 13:27) The spirit of the evil one got complete control of him while he stopped and weighed and balanced the matter of selling his best Friend for thirty pieces of silver. It is entirely probable, therefore, that Judas was not present when Jesus, a little later, instituted the Memorial Supper which Christians now celebrate.
THE MEANING OF THE MEMORIAL
he Memorial Supper which Jesus instituted is totally separate and distinct from the Passover Supper, and yet they are closely related; for the one was the type and the other its archetype, or higher type, with a still higher significance. The Memorial of Christ’s death should not be celebrated monthly or quarterly or weekly; but as the archetype of the Jewish Passover, it should be celebrated annually, and at about the same time as the Jewish Passover.
In the Jewish Passover a literal lamb was used to typify Jesus, the Lamb of God (this of course was not realized by the Jews); in the other, the archetype, the death of Jesus is represented by the breaking of the bread.
In their Passover, the Jews celebrated the birth of their nation and its deliverance from Egyptian bondage. This had its start in the passing over of their first-born when the tenth plague came upon the Egyptians. The edict was sent forth that all of the first-born of the Egyptians should die, and that the first-born of the Israelites should not die. The Israelites were directed to take special steps to mark themselves as separate and distinct from the Egyptians. They were to take for each family a lamb without blemish and bring it into the house on the tenth day of the first month. They were to cherish it and care for it until the fourteenth day, and then to slay it. Its blood was to be sprinkled on the outside doorpost and lintels while its flesh was to be roasted in the fire without a bone of it being broken (a prophecy of the Messiah – see John 19:36). It was to be eaten on the night of the fourteenth with bitter herbs and with unleavened bread. Strengthened by this food, the next day they were to march out of Egypt to go to the Promised Land for an inheritance under the Covenant made with Abraham.
The Apostle Paul calls our attention to the fact that Jesus, “the lamb of God,” was the antitype of the Passover lamb, saying, “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast.” (1 Cor. 5:7-8) He also shows us that the first-borns of Israel, spared in that Passover night, typified the Church of the First-born (Heb. 12:23), spared, or passed over, in the Gospel Age while the night of sin prevails and before the morning of Messiah’s Kingdom is ushered in.
We are not to understand that the Apostles comprehended the meaning of Jesus’ words when He explained to them the meaning of the Supper which He instituted. Rather, as He had already foretold, the Holy Spirit brought these things to their attention and enabled them to comprehend their meaning after they had received the Pentecostal blessing and enlightenment. Now we may see the import of Jesus’ words, “This is my body, which is broken for you.” (1 Cor. 11:24) We perceive that He could not have meant, as some have thought, that the bread was turned into His actual body and the wine into His actual blood. He still had His actual body and His actual blood. He could only have meant that the bread and the wine symbolically represented His body and His blood – His life given up.
Neither should we think that Jesus meant that special virtue would result to the disciples from the eating of that bread and the drinking of that literal cup. We should properly look far beyond these things, and see that He meant this: Only as they would by faith partake of the merits secured by His death could they have the great blessing provided for them as His disciples. The Apostles believed that the death of Jesus was for their sins, and that it constituted the basis of their acceptance with the Heavenly Father. They realized that only as they appropriated the sacrificed life of Christ would they be truly the recipients of all these blessings.
Paul also points out for us another important meaning of this bread and cup. He declares the oneness of Christ and His Church. He tells us that there is but the one Loaf and the one Cup. Primarily, this Loaf was Christ Jesus; but in a secondary sense all the followers of Christ, after having been justified through His Sacrifice, are privileged to become members of His Body, parts of the one Loaf that is being broken. Likewise, after partaking of the merit of Christ’s blood, His sacrifice, His true followers are counted as members with Him, as participants in that one Cup.
Hear the Apostle’s words: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:16,17)
THE SEALING OF THE NEW COVENANT
Jesus spoke of the cup, the fruit of the vine, as representing the blood of the New Covenant or Testament. (Luke 22:20) The Law Covenant was the Old Covenant, which failed to bring the blessings to the Jews because they could not keep it, and consequently they were not qualified to bless the other nations of the earth. But God promised a New Covenant, a better one, which would be introduced by a new and higher Mediator, a Mediator superior to Moses. That New Covenant, God declares, will accomplish what the old Law Covenant failed to accomplish; for the New Law Covenant will be inaugurated by Messiah, its Mediator, at His Second Advent. His Kingdom, then established in power and great glory, will rule, bless and instruct mankind, and to all who will respond to those blessed opportunities, God through the Mediator will “take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh.” (Ezek. 11:19)
Jesus’ death constituted the blood which seals, or makes efficacious, that New Covenant. But mark further: The Church is not to be blessed under that New Covenant of the Millennial Age, which will be inaugurated at the second coming of Jesus, at the establishment of His Kingdom. The Church is to be blessed in advance of that New Covenant. Their consecrated lives (blood), accepted by our Lord, are counted in as a part of His own sacrifice, which seals the New Covenant. Hence the New Covenant will not be fully sealed until the entire Body of Christ, which is the Church, shall have shared with Him in the drinking of His Cup – in the sacrifice of earthly rights, privileges, life itself.
We see that Jesus and the Church receive their reward neither under the Law Covenant nor under the New Covenant, but under a special covenant, called a Covenant of Sacrifice. Reference is made to this covenant of Christ and the Church in the Psalms, where the Lord is represented as saying, “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” (Psa. 50:5) The gathering of those who enter into this special Covenant of Sacrifice with the Lord having been in progress for now over nineteen hundred years, we have every reason to believe that the sacrifice is complete or nearly complete.
THE MEMORIAL SERVICE
As there was but one Passover in type, so there is but one “Lamb of God” in antitype; and by taking notice of that antitype each year, we merely do so “in remembrance” just as the Jews to this day keep their Passover “in remembrance.” And the service for the occasion is unique; there is no other service like it in Christian ritual throughout the earth. When our Lord gave command that we observe it, He did so in simplicity of speech and with few words:
“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. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20)
Yet, upon these two forthright and uncomplicated sentences great rituals have been erected by the various sects of Christendom. Fundamentally, no more would be required of us in our observance than our Lord’s statement, although explanatory remarks and scripture reading as a foundation for partaking of the bread and the wine is certainly in keeping. However, we should avoid pompous plays upon words and “stage” performances. The seriousness of the occasion should be stressed, however, that all be done “decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40), not nonchalantly, as of some common thing. Blessed are we if we may arrive at that balance of mind and heart that does not overdo or underdo the service – greatness in simplicity, inspiration in solemnity, uplift and virtue in a good and honest participation.
Whereas the tendency today is for larger and more costly church edifices in which to observe services, the institution of this “remembrance” by Jesus Himself was in an “upper room” of a private residence. In many of the great edifices of today “the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee.” (Rev. 18:23) Therefore, may the fact impress us that it is the occupants who sanctify the building; the building does not sanctify the occupants. Thus, St. Paul addresses one of his most human and endearing letters “unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer . . . and to the church in thy house.” (Phlm. 1:1-2) Therefore may each participant in this year’s Memorial rest in the strong assurance that where “two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20), regardless of the edifice they occupy.
WHO MAY PARTAKE
It is left open for each to decide for himself whether he has or has not the right to partake of this bread and this cup. If he professes to be a disciple, his fellow disciples may not attempt to judge his heart – God alone can positively read the heart. And though the Master knew beforehand who would betray Him, nevertheless one who had “a devil” was with the twelve. (John 6:70-71)
Because it symbolizes the death of Christ, let all beware of partaking of it ignorantly, unworthily, improperly – “not discerning the Lord’s body” as our ransom, else the breaking of it in his case would be as though he were one of those who murdered the Lord and he in symbol would “be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself.” (1 Cor. 11:27-29) Let him see to it that in partaking of the emblems he realizes them as the ransom price of his life and privileges.
The primary participants in the Lord’s Supper were to be the Saints, the Little Flock. However, we believe there is an unbegotten class who consecrate after the closing of the high calling similar to those faithful ones who preceded the Gospel Age (see Reprint 5761). We call that class “Youthful Worthies” and believe they will be rewarded in the earthly phase of the Kingdom in honor and in service with the Ancient Worthies of Hebrews Chapter 11.
Do Youthful Worthies partake of the Lord’s Supper? Most certainly they do! They are thankful and appreciative of what our Savior has done for them. They do not “suffer with Christ,” nor will they “reign with Christ,” therefore they partake of the wine and bread, symbolizing our Lord’s death as the Lamb of God and symbolizing their tentative justification. Their trial is for faith and obedience and not for life as was the Saints trial, although they make the same kind of consecration as did the spirit-begotten: “Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger [the unbegotten], as for one of your own country [spirit-begotten].” (Lev. 24:22)
It is our prayer that this year’s remembrance may be profitable to all who partake in sincerity and in Truth. We suggest reading the Passover chapter in Volume Six; and we pray a rich blessing upon all who partake. We are living in wonderful times, and we know not what a day may bring; but we have the strong assurance that we can firmly trust Him who left us an example that we should follow in His steps. (1 Pet. 2:21)
“SHE HATH DONE WHAT SHE COULD”
The incident related in Mark 14:1-11 occurred at the close of the Jewish Sabbath day just preceding our Lord’s crucifixion. Jesus and His disciples had come to the Passover Feast and He told them that He would there be crucified, but they thought that He was speaking in some kind of figurative language. Indeed, at no time during Jesus’ ministry did His crucifixion seem to be less likely than when it occurred. His preaching and the preaching of His disciples, first the Twelve and afterward the Seventy, had awakened considerable interest among all Jews, especially in Galilee.
Great throngs of people were at Jerusalem to celebrate this Feast, which would last a week. Thousands of them had heard of Jesus; and many of them had been recipients of His mercy in the healing of their diseases. Just a short time before, a number of them had discussed if it would be proper to proclaim Jesus king. Indeed, on the very next day after the incident related here the multitude proclaimed Him as King when He rode into Jerusalem upon the ass. They cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!” (Matt. 21:9)
But the Master knew there was a murderous hatred against Him among the chief priests, the Scribes and the Pharisees. It is written that they hated Him without cause; that is to say, without just cause (John 15:25), but they had cause enough to hate Him, from their own viewpoint.
Although the Jewish nation had lost its liberty long before and had no prospect of ever winning it back, nevertheless there had never been a time since the days of Solomon when their political prospects looked so favorable. The Roman Emperors had manifested their willingness to co-operate with these very priests, scribes and religious leaders. The Emperors wished merely to rule, and realized that they could exercise more influence through these religious leaders than in any other way.
Thus the great religious teachers considered themselves sponsors for the people. They perceived that their hold over the more ignorant Jews was being impaired by the teachings of Jesus. They felt so satisfied with themselves as the claimed representatives of God and as intermediaries with the Roman government that they did not think it worthwhile to inquire into Jesus and His teachings. From their viewpoint everything was going along reasonably well. They could wish for nothing better than that their plans might not be interfered with.
Many of them had lost all faith in God and in a future life. Others, retaining faith in God and His promised Kingdom, thought that affiliation with the Roman Empire would be the best way of strengthening their nation and preparing it for the Messianic glories. From this viewpoint, Jesus was a disturber of the peace. He did not belong to their clique. His manner, no less than His teachings, reproved them and tended to break all their influence with the people.
The religious leaders had heard that Jesus was coming to the Feast. They discussed how He could be wisely dealt with, killed, gotten rid of in any way. They seem to have been unanimous in believing that His destruction would be for the good of God’s cause, as they misunderstood that cause. Another scripture tells us that Caiaphas, the chief priest, had declared that it was expedient that one man should perish rather than that the nation should perish. (John 11:49-52) They fancied that the teachings of Jesus, if allowed to proceed, would certainly awaken the people to a faith in the Messianic Kingdom. They thought of Jesus as an imposter, but feared that His teachings would incite some kind of fanatical uprising.
The religious leaders had murder in their hearts. It was merely a question of how they could accomplish the murder and deceive the people, so as not to provoke those who had begun to have faith in Jesus. Their conclusion was that the Feast time would be an unfavorable one; for He would be surrounded by the multitude, some of whom thought Him a great prophet, others of whom considered Him to be the Messiah. Such was their attitude of mind when Judas went to them privately, suggesting that he would be in touch with the movements of Jesus, and that for a certain amount of money he would inform them of the most suitable time for making Jesus a prisoner – a time when the multitude would not be with Him. His plan was finally decided upon and carried out.
On this occasion, Jesus and His disciples were the honored guests of that Lazarus whom Jesus awakened after he had been dead three days. It was at the home of Simon the Leper, who probably was already dead. Jesus was the guest of honor, His disciples sharing with Him. Martha and Mary (sisters of Lazarus) along with Lazarus hosted the gathering. The supper had progressed when Mary entered with a vial of very expensive perfume, the contents of which she poured upon the head of Jesus and, according to another account, subsequently poured a portion of the same perfume upon His feet.
The house was filled with the perfume; Jesus was honored. Then came voices of murmuring – “Why was this waste of the ointment made?” St. John tells us that the leader of the murmurers was Judas. (John 12:4-6) Judas posed as the friend of the poor, intimating that his regrets were not selfish or personal, but that he thought what good might have been done to others with the money.
The Apostles afterward learned that this speech was hypocritical. Jesus, however, understood at the time the anger of Judas which led him to openly insult one of the hostesses. St. John tells us the anger of Judas was because he had failed to get this money himself. He was the treasurer of the little company of disciples; he carried the money-bag; and, as they afterward came to know, he was a thief, who privately was laying by for himself. (John 12:6) Judas is probably not the only person who has plead for the poor and at the same time sought to divert funds to himself.
The statement of Judas that the perfume was worth three hundred pence was probably not an extreme valuation. At a time when the silver penny, worth sixteen cents, represented a day’s labor, three hundred pence would practically represent the labor of a year. Today perfumes can be made and sold at trifling cost in comparison with the past. And yet the ancients were passionately fond of perfumes; and the liberal use of them, as in this case, indicated a deep respect, even reverence. Mary doubtless felt that her very highly esteemed friend Jesus, who had brought her brother back from the tomb, was none other than the Messiah, the Son and Representative of the Almighty God. The reverence which she felt for God she sought to express toward His highest Representative, Jesus.
Mary must have felt crushed as she heard the harsh criticism. But Jesus came to her defense, saying, “Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.” (Mark 14:6-8)
The Master’s approval must have comforted Mary; and wherever the Gospel has been preached, this story of her loving devotion, at great cost and probably great self-denial, has been told as a memorial of her, not merely to honor her, but especially to inspire and encourage others of God’s people to the obtaining and exercising of a love which delights in service, even in costly sacrifice.
(This paper is primarily drawn from several writings of Pastor Russell, including Reprints 5540-5541)