Michael Jackson & the Memorial
The holiday he celebrated from childhood
Day 273, Week 39, Article 38
The Associated Press reported this week that Michael Jackson’s logistics director, Alberto Alvarez, was in the bedroom when Jackson’s personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, “was administering CPR with one hand” as Jackson lay on the bed. According to Alvarez, Murray engaged in other highly suspicious actions. Outraged fans clamoring for a murder charge are more in an uproar than ever before. In a related story, Jackson admirers the world over are planning to memorialize the King of Pop on the one-year anniversary of his death this coming June, 25, 2010. Curiously, if the Gloved One were alive today, he’d probably be preparing to memorialize the death of someone else.
During the ill-advised 2004 child molestation trial of Michael Jackson the pop star was seen going into the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ventura County, California, to memorialize the death of Jesus Christ. He had been taught to celebrate the Lord’s Evening Meal, the only religious holiday his mother endorsed, from early childhood. Yes, not only did Mother Katherine Jackson celebrate it with her children, Michael’s paternal grandparents, and a host of relatives all celebrated the religious holiday. But what does the holiday connote? Why did over 18 million people, either as partakers or observers, celebrate it worldwide last year?
Simply put, Jesus Christ commanded his followers to replicate his last supper (that included bread and wine) with his faithful apostles as a way of remembering the significance of his death; a death that would have far reaching positive effects for all mankind. (Luke 22:14-20) More than two decades later we find Christians in the ancient city of Corinth following Christ’s instructions to commemorate his passing. (1 Cor. 11:23-26) But what does celebrating with bread and wine mean?
The Bread: During the Jewish Passover Meal Jesus–as God’s Anointed One–instituted a Christian celebration. He took the bread and simply said, “This [bread] is my body.” (Matt. 26:26, Catholic Douay Version and Protestant King James Version) But this is the English translation of the Greek translation of what he said in Aramaic. What he really meant was, “This [bread] means my body,” which is how at least two modern translations render it. (James Moffatt, New World Translation) The translation by Chas. B. Williams says, “It [the bread] represents my body.
The Wine: As he did with the bread, so Jesus did with the wine. “This [wine] means my blood,” he told his disciples. (Matt. 26:27, 28, NWT) While it is the shed blood of Jesus Christ that grants the “forgiveness of sins,” what his disciples drank that night was the “product of the vine”–that’s right, wine. (Matt. 26:29) Do all who profess Christianity believe this? No.
While well-meaning, good-hearted, conscientious Catholics who take Christ’s command very seriously believe in transubstantiation (the belief that the bread and wine are miraculously transformed into Christ’s body and blood), such is not what the Lord meant.
To illustrate: Have you ever gone to a mall or some other sprawling complex and located a wall map with a big red spot with the words “You are here”? Did you understand it to mean that you were there on the wall? Of course not! The red spot is understood to symbolize or represent where you are in relation to the complex. It doesn’t literally mean you are the red spot on the wall. Neither were the bread and wine literally Jesus body and blood.
Who Partakes: Jesus said a “little flock,” later revealed to be a heavenly accumulation of 144,000 kings and priests, would partake of the bread and wine. (Luke 12:32; Rev. 5:9, 10; 6:11; 7:4; 14:1, 3) Over the centuries that number has dwindled to a few thousand. So, the vast majority of the more than 18 million that attended the memorial celebration last year were respectful observers and prospective earthly subjects of God’s kingdom.
So, as sunset sweeps across a troubled globe on this coming Tuesday, March 30, 2010, calmness will settle over places where Jehovah’s Witnesses gather in dignity for the memorial. And if Michael were here, he would most likely head for the nearest Kingdom Hall–with children in tow–to commemorate the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.