“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’”
– Luke 22:19-20
It was a solemn night, early in the first century, on Nisan 14 according to the Jewish calendar, when Jesus arranged for a special supper with his twelve apostles – a remembrance supper that would serve to comfort them in Jesus’ absence. This supper is called the Lord’s Evening Meal or Memorial of Christ’s Death and we are commanded to ‘do this’ until the Christ returns. This is the only event in Jesus’ entire earthly career that he commanded his followers to memorialize. For this reason, this supper should be paramount in the minds of all mankind, especially those who are followers of Christ Jesus.
We invite, no, we strongly urge, people of all faiths to share in this night with us by commemorating the remembrance supper in their own churches, halls, auditoriums, private homes, etc. It is important that all spiritual minded people meet together with persons of like faith to honor the unmatched life of Jesus of Nazareth and take part in the Lord’s Evening Meal as he commanded. This is a night for all of mankind because all of us owe our existence and future life to the him.
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”
– Colossians 1:15-16
While on earth, Jesus explained, regarding all mankind:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
– John 14:6
And for all who choose to go through “the way” in order to attain to the Father, Jesus was preparing ample space to receive them:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
– John 14:1-4
The remembrance supper is a very simple unpretentious event as described in the introductory scripture cited above. (Luke 22:19-20) It involves a sharing of bread and drink among men and women of faith as they show their respect and appreciation for Jesus Christ, the exemplary life he led, and his glorious message of freedom and salvation. Because the first memorial supper occurred in connection with the Jewish Passover, the bread on the table was unleavened bread and the drink was red wine. Accordingly, when the supper is commemorated, the attendants usually arrange for the presence of unleavened bread and red wine. But these emblems are merely symbolic of something much greater.
The bread is symbolic of Jesus’ body which is ‘the bread of life that is given in our behalf’ – the living word of truth incarnated in mortal flesh. (John 6:35, 48-51) The cup of wine is symbolic of the new covenant with mankind where God’s law is written in our hearts by means of the ministry of the Spirit of Truth which was poured out on our behalf. (Jeremiah 31:33; John 16:12-14; Acts 2:17-18) For a further discussion of the Memorial emblems, see Eating and Drinking Worthily, and other articles in the Memorial Articles section of our website.
What is important is the meaning of the symbols, not the symbols themselves. So, if unleavened bread is not readily available, another sort of bread may be used. And if red wine is not available, another product of the vine may be used, such as grape juice. This is important to note since many who choose to participate in the remembrance supper do not drink alcoholic beverages, including young children who have made a consecration to do the will of the Father.
Some would disagree with this suggestion, asserting that the bread must be unleavened because it represents Jesus’ sinless body, and the drink must be red wine because it represents his blood. But Jesus never gave it this strict interpretation. In fact, this type of strict ritualism is the very thing Jesus resisted. He was not a slave to tradition. He was far more concerned with the spirit behind the law, than with the letter of the law. As the Apostle Paul wrote:
“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”
– Romans 7:6
When planning your commemorations, we suggest you read the gospel accounts of the Memorial Supper and see how Jesus and the twelve apostles commemorated that night. (Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-39; John 13:1-17:26) At a certain point in the night, Jesus passed the bread and wine and commented on their significance. You can do the same at your Memorial Supper. But rather than give you a formula for conducting your Memorial Supper, we encourage you to use your imaginations and let the spirit lead you in this regard. There are no formalities other than the sharing of the bread and drink.
It was also an occasion to discuss spiritual things, including brotherly love and unity. In the first Memorial Supper, Jesus washed the feet of his apostles as an object lesson in humility. It was the custom in those days for the servant of the host to wash the feet of the guests as they arrived. Pitchers of water, basins and towels were placed just inside the door for that purpose. But on this occasion, there was no servant, so when the apostles arrived there was no one to wash their feet. Any of the apostles could have taken on that role, but not one of them did. Instead, they proceeded to the dinner table and took their seats, subtly vying for the honored positions next to where Jesus would sit. Jesus did not chastise them for their lack of humility. He simply demonstrated what real humility is.
“[Jesus] so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
– John 13:4-5
Afterward, Jesus explained the lesson:
“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
– John 13:12-17
During our Memorial suppers, we should approach the evening with the same type of humility for our brothers and sisters in attendance. Not that we must wash each other’s feet, but we should be mindful of the needs of all those in attendance and look for ways to be of service to one another. And after we share in this intimate supper, perhaps we can carry that humility out of the building and into our daily affairs. By faith we enter into the spiritual brotherhood, but we remain in it by the way we treat ‘the least’ of our brothers. (Matthew 25:34-40)
There were so many other lessons Jesus taught that night that can serve as topics for conversation. We encourage you to learn as much as you can about Jesus and his earthly ministry so that on that night, the emblems of bread and wine will have heightened meaning for you. You may wish to read these articles: Who is Jesus Christ? Christ’s Relation to the Individual, The Faith and Religion of Jesus, and Worshipping with Spirit and Truth.
We, the authors of this site, are trying to help people see that all who belong to the Christ must be sharers in the remembrance supper. This is an opportunity to openly and publicly confess our union with Jesus. And conversely, it is our opportunity to have Jesus openly confess his union with us before his Father in the heaven:
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”
– Matthew 10:32-33
To all who choose to share in this night in their own places of worship, we encourage you, too, to spend the evening in solemn contemplation. It is our wish that one day, our entire planet will give worshipful honor to the Christ and recognize our oneness as a spiritual family, children of God and brothers to each other. Imagine the rejoicing that will occur in heaven by the angels looking on at our faithfulness! Perhaps by so doing we can minimize the woes that are destined to come upon mankind for failing to recognize our Creator.
After the Memorial, we hope to hear from all of you, sharing your experience of commemorating this special occasion. We would like to know how you celebrated, what you talked about, and where you are located on this beautiful planet.
Before Jesus left the earth, he asked this question:
“When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
– Luke 18:8
It is our prayer that more and more of mankind come to appreciate their wonderful Creator and Elder Brother Christ Jesus so that when he arrives, the answer will be a resounding “Yes!” He will unquestionably know that his life and his death for us was not in vain. He will know that we heard him, that we believe him, that we honor him and look forward to sharing an eternity with him.
In the meantime, as the Apostle Peter wrote, ‘make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.’ (2 Peter 3:14) And so we shall! And we stand as One in Christ.