In the Church the word ordinances usually refers to rites and ceremonies that the Lord has given us for our salvation, guidance, and comfort (see Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 548–49). These ordinances are physical actions that symbolize spiritual experiences. By taking part in them we receive the spiritual power we need to change our lives. (The Purpose of Priesthood Ordinances)
In addition to the covenants associated with the Sacrament Ordinance we know:
- Jesus commanded that the sacrament be administered to the Church (verses 3–4, 6–8, and 10–12).
- Priests must be properly ordained and authorized to administer the sacrament (verse 5); teachers and deacons may prepare and pass the sacrament.
- Partaking of the sacrament is an act of remembering Jesus (verses 7 and 11).
- Those who always remember Jesus are promised they will always have his Spirit with them (verses 7 and 11).
- Everyone who partakes of the sacrament is obeying a commandment (verse 10).
- By partaking of the sacrament members of the Church promise to obey all of Jesus’ commandments (verse 10).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught: “With so very much at stake, [the sacrament] should be taken more seriously than it sometimes is. It should be a powerful, reverent, reflective moment. It should encourage spiritual feelings and impressions. As such it should not be rushed. It is not something to ‘get over’ so that the real purpose of a sacrament meeting can be pursued. This is the real purpose of the meeting” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 89; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 68).
Our Savior wants us to remember His great atoning sacrifice and keep His commandments. To help us do this, He has commanded us to meet often and partake of the sacrament.
The sacrament is a holy priesthood ordinance that helps remind us of the Savior’s Atonement. During the sacrament, we partake of bread and water. We do this in remembrance of His flesh and His blood, which He gave as a sacrifice for us. As we partake of the sacrament, we renew sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father.
Shortly before His Crucifixion, Jesus Christ gathered His Apostles around Him in an upstairs room. He knew He would soon die on the cross. This was the last time He would meet with these beloved men before His death. He wanted them to always remember Him so they could be strong and faithful.
To help them remember, He introduced the sacrament. He broke bread into pieces and blessed it. Then He said, “Take, eat; this is in remembrance of my body which I give a ransom for you” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 26:22). Next He took a cup of wine, blessed it, gave it to His Apostles to drink, and said, “This is in remembrance of my blood … , which is shed for as many as shall believe on my name, for the remission of their sins” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 26:24; see also Matthew 26:26–28; Mark 14:22–24; Luke 22:15–20).
After His Resurrection, the Savior came to the Americas and taught the Nephites the same ordinance (see 3 Nephi 18:1–11; 20:1–9). After the Church was restored in the latter days, Jesus once again commanded His people to partake of the sacrament in remembrance of Him, saying, “It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus” (D&C 20:75).
We take these obligations upon ourselves when we are baptized (see D&C 20:37; Mosiah 18:6–10). Thus, when we partake of the sacrament, we renew the covenants we made when we were baptized. Jesus gave us the pattern for partaking of the sacrament (see 3 Nephi 18:1–12) and said that when we follow this pattern, repenting of our sins and believing on His name, we will gain a remission of our sins (see Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 26:24).
The Lord promises that if we keep our covenants, we will always have His Spirit to be with us. A person guided by the Spirit will have the knowledge, faith, power, and righteousness to gain eternal life. (Christ Introduced the Sacrament)
At the dedication of the Jordan River Temple, Elder Mark E. Petersen stressed the importance of the sacrament:
“The sacrament is commemorative of the most sacred and important thing that has ever happened—the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing is so sacred as the Atonement. Nothing is so important.
“We commemorate the suffering and death of Christ on the cross by partaking of the sacrament. And as we do so, again we enter into a covenant as we accept both the bread and the water. And what is this covenant, and how serious is it?
“Do we realize how serious it really is?
“Only a god could bring about the Atonement. And Christ was divine, the Son of God, our Redeemer, even the Creator of all things.
“When he spoke of his suffering on the cross, he said:
“‘Behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
“‘But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
“‘Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
“‘Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men’ (D&C 19:16–19).
“How great was his suffering! We human beings can never measure the extent of it. But he died for us, he suffered for us, and we commemorate his death and suffering through the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
“As we partake of that sacrament, we should realize how truly important and sacred it is, for as we do so we declare to Almighty God, our Father in Heaven, that we will always remember the Christ. We witness to our Father, we testify to our Father, we covenant with our Father, that we are willing to take upon us the name of Christ and always remember him, and always keep his commandments which he has given us.
“That is the covenant we enter into each time we partake of the sacrament. Do we realize what we do? Do we realize how serious the covenant is that we take upon ourselves?” (address given at Jordan River Temple dedication, 16 Nov. 1982).
When blessing the emblems of Christ our Savior and Redeemer it is said:
Bread – “O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this abread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and bwitness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his ccommandments which he has given them; that they may always have his dSpirit to be with them. Amen.” (D&C 20:77)
Wine – “O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this awine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.” (D&C 20:79)
The sacrament is an ordinance. The bread and water are symbols of Jesus’ flesh and blood. They help us remember that He sacrificed* His life for us. We should remember His love for us. We should be thankful He has made it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins and live again with our Father in Heaven.
Each time we take the sacrament, we make again the promises that we made to our Father in Heaven when we were baptized. We promise again that we will always remember Jesus, that we are willing to be called by His name, and that we will always obey His commandments. Before we take the sacrament, we should repent of the wrong things that we have done and think about the promises we have made.
Our Father in Heaven promises us that if we do the things we promised to do, He will send the Holy Ghost to be with us always. (The Sacrament Ordinance)
On the night before His Crucifixion, Jesus Christ met with His Apostles and instituted the sacrament (see Luke 22:19–20). After His Resurrection, He instituted the sacrament among the Nephites (see 3 Nephi 18:1–11). Today the sacrament is an ordinance in which Church members partake of bread and water in remembrance of Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice. This ordinance is an essential part of worship and spiritual development. Through this ordinance, Church members renew the covenants they made with God when they were baptized. (LDS Sacrament)