Sacrament (Lord’s Supper)
Christ instituted the sacrament during the Passover meal. It was His “last supper” with His closest followers. All the accounts agree on the purpose : to remember the body and blood He would sacrifice on behalf of mankind. When the Lord appeared to the Nephites, He proclaimed He had fulfilled the law (see 3 Nephi 7:2). All the rites and sacrifices added through Moses pointed to His great sacrifice of His body and blood. The purpose of the sacrament is to remember Christ, His body that was broken to fulfill the required sacrifice, and His blood that was shed for man’s redemption.1 When the bread is broken and blessed, those who qualify (by having repented and been baptized) receive it as a gift or token from Christ — it is His body. This is to be done in remembrance of [His] body (Moroni 4:1). It is through His body that He, the living sacrifice, shows the way to all. “A loving God has died for us. His body is a testimony of life, obedience, sacrifice, cruelty, forgiveness, death, resurrection, immortality, power, and glory. When you remember His life, you should remember all that is associated with it.”2
When the Lord visited the Nephites, He commanded that they should eat (3 Nephi 8:6). This is more than an invitation; it is more than an offering. It is a commandment. What is it about partaking of His sacrament, eating in remembrance of the body of Christ, that must be done? Why would people who had seen, touched, and knelt at the feet of the risen Lord need to partake of the bread as a “witness” and “remembrance” of Him? How did this add to what they had already received? Why is the sacrament sacred enough to be celebrated by the Lord with people who are in His very presence?3 When people share food with one another, they become part of the same material. When a meal is shared, life is shared. They become one of the same substance. The substance which binds the followers of Christ is that which symbolizes the “body of Christ.” Christ “broke” the bread before it was blessed. What does breaking the bread symbolize about Christ? How is His broken body intended to unite His followers with one another, as well as to unite them with Him? Why is the broken bread distributed to those who shall believe and be baptized in my name? (3 Nephi 8:6). Does the order matter? Can a person be baptized before they believe, later come to believe, and then receive the sacrament correctly? Or must they come to believe first, then receive baptism second, before it is proper to partake of the sacrament? The Lord’s commandments are simple. They can be done by anyone. But they are specific and should be followed in the same manner the Lord instituted them. This is the strait path that He says is narrow and has few…that find it (3 Nephi 13:2). Perhaps it is not found, because men and women proceed with inexactitude to do what He has laid out before them with exactness.4
“The sacrament should be taken in the way God commanded. Partake of the sacrament in your families and in your gatherings. Christ commanded it. Follow the pattern in 3 Nephi 8:6–7 and Moroni 4:1. Kneel down with the church (Moroni 4:1; JSH 16:24) is how the scriptures direct it to be done. Use wine. If you are opposed to alcohol or have a medical condition that prevents you from using wine, use red grape juice. Use the symbol of the blood of our Lord. Red wine is bitter for a reason. Drinking that bitter wine in remembrance of His blood is symbolic and appropriate.”5Grape juice changes, through fermentation, into something that affects the senses. The crushed grape — like blood spilled and then allowed to ferment — is a symbol of the great work of the Lord.6
Only one who has authority is to bless the sacrament. This suggests something about the sanctity of the sacrament when it is performed in the correct manner. It should be viewed as a “higher ordinance” because of the more exclusive reservation of the “power” conferred by the Lord. This should say something about the manner in which all ought to proceed when blessing and partaking of the sacrament.
The disciples partook first, and after having partaken, they passed it to the multitude. This illustrates the practice of receiving it before being able to pass it to others. It is not possible to pass along what has not first been received. This is true of all the Lord’s ordinances. It is one of the reasons Alma rebaptized himself the instant he first began to baptize others (see Mosiah 9:8). Those who bless are to be sanctified by partaking, then they pass the sacrament as sanctified ministers. Those who are passing are not more important than the others, but they need to be purified first, so that those to whom they minister may receive the ordinance from those who are already clean.
If the priest performing the sacrament ordinance gets a word wrong or adds a word while pronouncing the blessing, he should repeat the entire sacrament prayer. This shows one’s willingness to follow the ordinance with exactness. It should be performed in every particular as the Lord has instructed. When it is performed this way, the promise of having His spirit to always be with them is realized.
He gave unto the disciples and commanded that they should eat. And when they had [eaten] and were filled, he commanded that they should give unto the multitude. And when the multitude had eaten and were filled … (3 Nephi 8:6). The disciples ate until they were filled. Does this mean their stomachs were sated? Does it mean their souls were affected? Does it mean both? How were they filled by partaking of the bread? Did they need to first be filled themselves before they would be permitted to minister to others? Was that why the Lord required them to first partake, then be filled, before they were commanded to minister to the others? When they ministered to the multitude, what was it they gave to the multitude? Was it the bread alone? Was it also something that had filled them? And then the multitude takes part in eating the bread and were filled. This raises the question of how they were filled. Were their stomachs filled because of the amount they ate? Did they eat until they were filled, or did they get filled on just a small amount of bread? Or was this a spiritual filling where each heart was touched and each person’s countenance before the Lord filled with light?7
The sacrament is intended to be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember [Him] (3 Nephi 8:6). This is again identified as a witness unto…the…Father (Moroni 4:1), rather than a witness unto anyone else. It is not even a witness unto Christ. Nor is it a witness unto one another. It is a witness unto the Father.8 The act of testifying is not composed merely of the act of eating the bread. To actually testify to the Father one must first, repent; second, be baptized; third, receive the bread after it has been properly blessed with power; and fourth, remember His body and the ten things symbolized through it — namely, His body as a testimony of life, obedience, sacrifice, cruelty, forgiveness, death, resurrection, immortality, power, and glory. Remembering His life means remembering all that is associated with it. This is the acceptable sacrifice the Father will receive as a testimony of Christ. When the sacrament is performed in this way, they will receive power to have his spirit to be with them.9 The sacrament also reminds one of the promised wedding feast. In addition to remembrance of Christ’s shed blood and slain body, it foreshadows a final feast with the Lord to celebrate His success in redeeming those who accept His invitation.10
“These are simple steps. They are possible to be performed. When they are, the Father receives the act as a testimony before Him of the truth that you do always remember His Son. It will be recorded in Heaven, and will be a witness for your salvation in the Day of Judgment. Since the result is to have His spirit to be with you, it should be a simple matter to determine by reflection if you have His spirit as your companion. If you can feel that He is always with you, then you have an acceptable testimony to the Father. If you do not, then perhaps you should revisit the steps He has provided to see what you might improve. Having Christ’s spirit to be with you is significant enough proof that you should know the truth of the matter. Since you know the means by which to judge, see that you judge the matter correctly. Note the prayers all refer to Christ’s spirit. This is something apart from the holy ghost. It is Christ’s spirit which is to always be with them.”11 “[Having Christ’s spirit always with you] is more intimate than touching His side, hands and feet. This is to have His spirit within your touch at all times. You become an extension of Him, properly taking His name upon you. For you are then, indeed, a Christian. He will christen or anoint you, not with the symbol of oil, but with the reality of His spirit. This anointing is the real thing, of which the oil was meant only to testify. The holy ghost was intended to become a companion at the time of baptism. The Spirit of Christ is intended to become a companion in your very person as well. When there are two members of the Godhead represented in your living person, then it is the Father who receives this testimony of you, about you, by you, and for you. You become His, for these three are one.”12
1 “Christ’s Sacrament,” June 1, 2014, blog post.
2 “3 Nephi 18:6–7,” Nov. 8, 2010, blog post.
3 “3 Nephi 18:3–4,” Nov. 6, 2010, blog post.
4 “3 Nephi 18:5,” Nov. 7, 2010, blog post.
5 Preserving the Restoration, 521.
6 “3 Nephi 18:1–2,” Nov. 5, 2010, Blog post.
7 “3 Nephi 18:5,” Nov. 7, 2010, blog post.
8 “3 Nephi 18:10,” Nov. 9, 2010, blog post.
9 “3 Nephi 18:6–7,” Nov. 8, 2010, blog post.
10 Preserving the Restoration, 486.
11 “3 Nephi 18:6–7,” Nov. 8, 2010, blog post.
12 “3 Nephi 18:11,” Nov. 10, 2010, blog post.