Here is the talk I gave on Sunday that I promised to give to you guys. I decided to briefly look into what God commanded his people to do before Jesus instituted the sacrament just before His Great Atoning Sacrifice, what the sacrament represents, and some things we can reflect upon in our preparation to partake of the sacrament.
So, what did people do before Jesus instituted the sacrament?
Believers practiced Passover, which was instituted in the days of Moses. Passover reminded the children of Israel about how the destroying angel passed over them, secure in their houses by the sacrifice of a lamb, and slew all the firstborn children who lived in Egypt. The children of Israel were commanded by the Lord to continue this practice, of sacrificing a lamb and placing its blood upon their doorways. The feast of the Passover had the sacrificed lamb, wine, and unleavened bread. This was to continue until Jesus instituted the sacrament.
Why did Jesus institute the sacrament?
The sacrament, symbolizing the sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ, ended the spilling of animal blood, for the son of God, the Lamb, the redeeming sacrifice, had come. Elder James J Hamula said “In this simple yet profound manner, Jesus instituted a new ordinance for God’s covenant people. No longer would animal blood be spilled or animal flesh be consumed in anticipation of a redeeming sacrifice of a Christ who was yet to come. Instead, emblems of the broken flesh and spilled blood of the Christ who had already come would be taken and eaten in remembrance of His redeeming sacrifice. Participation in this new ordinance would signify to all a solemn acceptance of Jesus as the promised Christ and wholehearted willingness to follow Him and keep His commandments. To those who would so signify and conduct their life, spiritual death would “pass over” them, and eternal life would be assured.” Jesus, just before his death at the conclusion of the Passover feast, instituted the sacrament with instructions for his apostles.
What does the sacrament represent?
The bread and water are important symbols of Christ. They represent the body and blood of our dear Savior, who took upon himself all the sins and sorrows of his people.
Elder Hamula continues: “As the meal drew to a conclusion, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to His Apostles, saying, “Take, eat.” “This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” In a similar manner, He took the cup of wine, offered a blessing on it, and passed it to those around Him, saying: “This cup is the new testament in my blood,” “which is shed … for the remission of sins.” “This do in remembrance of me.” In his sacrifice, Christ redeemed us from death, sin, and made it possible for us to return to our Father in heaven. All of us will be resurrected at the end of times, but Christ made it possible for us to return home and live with God as joint heirs with Christ.
Elder Hamula reminds us that “…we are reminded of our own inevitable personal resurrection, which consists of more than just the restoration of body and spirit. By the power of the Resurrection, all of us will be restored to the presence of God. That reality presents to us the fundamental question of our lives. The fundamental question facing all of us is not whether we will live but with whom we will live after we die.” Our savior loves us, and desires us to return with him to our God, our Father in Heaven. With this knowledge, we can begin to understand why we would need a constant reminder of who we are, who Jesus Christ is, and what He has done for us. So I’ll ask,
Why do we partake of the Sacrament?
We all sin and transgress, it is easy to fall into traps through our journey of mortality. Unrighteous thoughts and feelings entertained in our minds, biting words or actions, prideful, unyielding hearts difficult to overcome. Such things make us unclean, soiled with sin, soiled with transgression. Jesus made it clear that “no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence;” in Moses 6:57. The experience of Alma the younger comes to my mind. When he was stopped by an angel, his soiled condition became clear to him. Alma said in chapter 36:15 “Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds” The Sacrament becomes to us a mercy, that we may become unburdened from our sins, transgressions, and sorrows. I am grateful to my God for the “Matchless gift of his divine son.” Put so well by the prophets and apostles at the end of The Living Christ.
President Henry B. Eyring has said “Of all the blessings we can count, the greatest by far is the feeling of forgiveness that comes as we partake of the sacrament. We will feel greater love and appreciation for the Savior, whose infinite sacrifice made possible our being cleansed from sin. As we partake of the bread and water, we remember that He suffered for us. And when we feel gratitude for what He has done for us, we will feel His love for us and our love for Him.”
We can also reflect upon the day we entered the waters of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost confirmed upon us. On the covenants we made that day to take upon us His name, and always remember Him. This day marks the time when we are to begin partaking of the Sacrament. Each time we partake of the sacrament, we are making those covenants anew.
What do we remember when we take the bread and water?
Elder Hamula put it well in few words things we can ponder on when we take the bread and water each week: he begins
“With torn and broken bread, we signify that we remember the physical body of Jesus Christ—a body that was buffeted with pains, afflictions, and temptations of every kind, a body that bore a burden of anguish sufficient to bleed at every pore, a body whose flesh was torn and whose heart was broken in crucifixion. We signify our belief that while that same body was laid to rest in death, it was raised again to life from the grave, never again to know disease, decay, or death. And in taking the bread to ourselves, we acknowledge that, like Christ’s mortal body, our bodies will be released from the bonds of death, rise triumphantly from the grave, and be restored to our eternal spirits.”
We can reflect upon the great mercy of or Lord, how through him, all this is possible. Because of Christ, we can live with our families with God the Father eternally. We can remember how Christ is our cornerstone, who we build a firm foundation upon.
He continues: “With a small cup of water, we signify that we remember the blood Jesus spilled and the spiritual suffering He endured for all mankind. We remember the agony that caused great drops of blood to fall in Gethsemane. We remember the bruising and scourging He endured at the hands of His captors. We remember the blood He spilled from His hands, feet, and side while at Calvary. And we remember His personal reflection on His suffering: “How sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.” In taking the water to ourselves, we acknowledge that His blood and suffering atoned for our sins and that He will remit our sins as we embrace and accept the principles and ordinances of His gospel.””