Jehovah’s Witnesses will observe the memorial of the death of Jesus Christ on Friday in an event described as the most important Christian gathering of the year.
The Witnesses said they adhere strictly to the Bible in their observance of the Lord’s Evening Meal, which is also known as the Lord’s supper, the Last Supper, and the Memorial of Jesus’ Death. The event is expected to hold at various locations in Nigeria and other countries of the world.
“In contrast, many beliefs and practices of other denominations in connection with this observance are not based on the Bible,” they said in a statement made available online.
According to the Witnesses, the purpose of the occasion is to remember the death of Jesus, “showing our gratitude for his sacrifice in our behalf”, adding that the observance is not a sacrament, or a religious practice that imparts merit such as grace or the forgiveness of sins.
“The Bible teaches that our sins can be forgiven, not by a religious rite, but only through faith in Jesus. Jesus commanded his disciples to commemorate the Lord’s Evening Meal, but he did not specifically say how often.”
The statement said further: “Some feel that it should be observed monthly, while others observe it weekly, daily, several times each day, or as often as a person feels is appropriate. However, here are some factors that should be considered.
“Jesus instituted the Lord’s Evening Meal on the date of the Jewish Passover, and he died later that same day. This was no coincidence. The Scriptures compare Jesus’ sacrifice to that of the Passover lamb. The Passover was observed once each year.
“Likewise, the Memorial of Jesus’ death was observed once each year by the early Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses follow that Bible-based pattern.”
In addition, the Christian group disclosed further that when Jehovah’s Witnesses observe the Lord’s Evening Meal, only a small fraction of them partake of the bread and wine.
Explaining why, the statement said: “Jesus’ shed blood established “a new covenant” that replaced the covenant between Jehovah God and the ancient nation of Israel. Those who are in that new covenant partake of the Memorial emblems.
“It includes, not all Christians, but only ‘those who have been called’ in a special way by God. These ones will rule in heaven with Christ, and the Bible says that just 144,000 people receive that privilege. In contrast to the ‘little flock’ of those called to rule with Christ, the vast majority of us hope to be part of ‘a great crowd’ who will gain everlasting life on earth.
“While those of us with an earthly hope do not partake of the Memorial emblems, we do join in expressing thanks for the sacrifice that Jesus made in our behalf.”
According to the group, over 20 million people in 2017 attended the memorial, some 12 million of whom were not Witnesses.
The Witnesses believe that the Memorial is a significant annual event not only for them but also for millions of other people worldwide.
Speaking on this year’s event, the organization, however, welcome every one to attend the annual observance of the death of Jesus Christ, by visiting the website, JW.org for location and time for the event.