Q: An elder mentioned in his comments, that if you partake at the memorial when you're not suppose to or don't partake when you are suppose to, it's a deadly sin. I like to think Jehovah is an understanding God [rather] than a trigger happy God.


A: Partaking of the bread and wine at the Memorial has nothing to do with whether one looks forward to receiving everlasting life on a paradise earth, or is chosen by God to rule with Christ as his "bride" in his heavenly kingdom, for the blessing of the kingdom's subjects. (John 3:16; 17:3; Rev. 5:9,10; 20:6) We all benefit equally from the ransom Jesus paid, as he said in regards to the cup which he passed to his disciples at the time he introduced the Memorial: "Drink out of it, all of you; for this means my 'blood of the covenant,' which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins." (Matt. 26:27,28) Jesus' death made the forgiveness of sins possible for everyone equally. The Scriptures tell us: "For just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive." (1 Cor. 15:22; Rom. 5:6-12) The Memorial is about Jesus and remembering him, as he himself said: "Keep doing this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:23-26) This directive to remember Jesus in this way was meant for all his disciples. Paul was not present when Jesus instituted the Lord's evening meal, and neither were any of the other disciples in Corinth to whom Paul wrote regarding its observance, but they certainly were all obediently doing so; not in some ceremonial way like it is done among the Witnesses today, but rather as a meal, a "feasting together." 1 Corinthians 11:33,34; 2 Peter 2:13.

The Society's publications explain that the Memorial replaced the Passover celebration.
In Questions From Readers, regarding how to determine that date, the Watchtower stated:

"It was on the 14th of the Jewish month Nisan, the date of the Passover, that Jesus directed his followers to commemorate his death. (Luke 22:14-20) Appropriately, the date for the Memorial celebration is arrived at as the Jews back then determined the date for the Passover. They began the month of Nisan when they could first see the new moon in the spring nearest the equinox. Passover came fourteen days later. —Isa. 66:23; Ex. 12:2, 6. Jehovah’s Witnesses now follow this ancient pattern in determining the Memorial date."
w77 6/15 pp. 383-384.

Also, Insight on the Scriptures, Vol 2, under Passover, says: "Passover was a memorial celebration. . . Certain features of the Passover observance were fulfilled by Jesus." (it-2 p. 581, 583 Passover) Since the connection between the Passover and the Memorial of Christ Jesus' death is noted, it is appropriate to ask: Who was it that celebrated the Passover under the old covenant? Would this not have meaning for those observing the Memorial which replaced it? Insight on the Scriptures, Vol 1, answers:
"The alien resident who had become a circumcised worshiper was bound to one law with the Israelites, that is, to obey all the terms of the Law covenant. (Le 24:22) A few examples are: He was required to keep the Sabbath (Ex 20:10; 23:12) and to celebrate the Passover (Nu 9:14; Ex 12:48, 49), the Festival of Unfermented Cakes (Ex 12:19), the Festival of Weeks (De 16:10, 11), the Festival of Booths (De 16:13, 14), and the Day of Atonement (Le 16:29, 30). He could offer sacrifices (Nu 15:14) and had to do so in the same manner as prescribed for the natural Israelite. (Nu 15:15, 16) His offerings were to be unblemished (Le 22:18-20) and brought to the entrance of the tent of meeting just as was done by the natural Israelite. (Le 17:8, 9) He could not engage in any false worship. (Le 20:2; Eze 14:7)." it-1 p. 73 Alien Resident.

As is acknowledged above, since it was not just the natural Israelites who celebrated the Passover, but the alien resident was also required to do so, then what should we conclude regarding that which replaced it, the Memorial of Christ's death?
Is it meant for only an elite few? Under the Mosaic Law, was the alien resident simply a spectator, as has been our custom since 1936? This elitism has no scriptural basis! On the contrary, to the natural Israelites Jehovah said: "The alien resident should prove to be the same as you before Jehovah. There should prove to be one law and one judicial decision for you and for the alien resident who is residing as an alien with you." (Numbers 15:15,16) What do you suppose Jehovah's response would have been if the priests had taken it upon themselves to forbid the alien resident from observing the Passover, claiming it was meant only for them as priests, although inviting the alien resident to come and watch? —Deut. 5:32,33; Isa. 10:1,2; Matt. 23:13, 15, 27,28.

In the absence of any contrary command, it is clear that Jesus' instruction to "keep doing this in remembrance of me," applies to all of his disciples. (1 Cor. 11:26) He had all of them in mind when he said: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” 52 Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?' they asked. 53 So Jesus said again, 'I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.'” It is interesting to note that many of his listeners were stumbled by those words, and "owing to this many of his disciples went off to the things behind and would no longer walk with him. John 6:51-58, 60-66.

In view of Jesus' above words, do we discern the significance of the bread and the wine that Jesus passed to his disciples on that night? Are we also stumbled, failing to get the sense of it? Who has the authority to contradict and overrule what Jesus commanded, especially when the prohibition is based merely on one person's interpretation, namely, the president of a secular corporation. When we come together to celebrate the Memorial we have the opportunity to demonstrate our understanding of what the bread and wine represent, and thereby express our heartfelt appreciation for the ransom that God provided by means of his Son, which makes possible our precious relationship with Him, and leads to everlasting life!
John 3:16.

You said that your elder told the congregation that partaking when you are not supposed to, such as not having the heavenly hope, is a deadly sin. The Bible tells us that "God becomes angry when his Law is broken. But where there isn't a law, it cannot be broken." (Rom. 4:15, CEV) In other words, you cannot break a law that does not exist! Did the elder quote any scripture when he made the assertion? Is there any scripture, anywhere in the Bible, that forbids someone, anyone, from obeying Jesus’ command to “keep doing this in remembrance of me"? Some point to Paul's words to the Corinth congregation. But there Paul does not forbid anyone from eating “this loaf” and drinking “this cup.” Rather he was correcting a bad attitude on the part of some in the congregation who missed the purpose of the occasion. (1 Cor. 11:27-31) Do we not demonstrate a similar bad attitude when we reject participating in the occasion altogether? We have Jesus’ own words instructing us to remember him in this manner. There is no scripture that excludes anyone from doing so. Therefore, should you feel guilty, perhaps even condemned, when you obey the Scriptures rather than contrary commandments of men?

Your elder should carefully consider the implication of what he says, namely, “if you don't partake when you are suppose to, it's a deadly sin,” for is he not self-condemned if he doesn’t partake, since there is no Scripture forbidding him from doing so? Is it not a matter of going "beyond the things that are written," and making God's word invalid by our traditions on the part of our leaders? It comes down to Jesus versus Rutherford! To whom do you belong? (1 Cor. 6:19,20) This is of course very serious from God's standpoint, for if we become followers of men our worship is in vain, or as the New Living Bible puts it, "a farce."
Matthew 7:21-23; 15:6-9; 1 Cor. 4:6; compare 2 Thess. 2:11,12; Psalms 146:3-5.

Keep in mind this simple basic fact: You cannot sin by obeying God! Sin is the opposite of obedience! (Psalms 119:97-105) When you obey Jesus' directive to "keep doing this in remembrance of me," and there is no scriptural command or restriction to the contrary, you are not sinning. But we are confronted with a choice, as were the apostles Peter and John who were forbidden by the religious leaders to do something that Jesus had instructed them to do. They simply replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? . . It's necessary to obey God rather than men."
Acts 4:19; 5:29, NLT.

Should we stumble because of all these things? Please reflect on the fact that a "man of lawlessness" was prophesied to elevate himself over everyone within God's temple. He would be in opposition to true worship, since his presence is "according to the operation of Satan"! At present we are still chafing under his domination for the short time that Jehovah allows it; but he will soon be done away with upon Jesus' arrival. And according to the scripture, then we will no longer be celebrating the memorial of his death, for it will have served its purpose as Paul explains: "For as often as you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives." —1 Corinthians 11:26; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; Luke 12:45,46.