May 24-June 4, 2023
Matthew 26; Mark 14; John 13
The day before He died, Jesus gave His disciples something to remember Him by. He “took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood” (Matthew 26:26–28).
That happened about 2,000 years ago, in a place most of us will never see, in a language few of us can understand. But now, every Sunday in our own meeting places, priesthood holders, authorized to act in the name of Jesus Christ, do what He once did. They take bread and water, bless it, and give it to each of us, His disciples. It’s a simple act—can there be anything simpler, more fundamental, than eating bread and drinking water? But that bread and water are sacred to us because they help us remember Him. They’re our way of saying, “I’ll never forget Him”—not just, “I’ll never forget what I’ve read about His teachings and His life.” Rather, we are saying, “I’ll never forget what He did for me.” “I’ll never forget how He rescued me when I cried out for help.” And “I’ll never forget His commitment to me and my commitment to Him—the covenant we have made.
Notice the last words of this description: “the covenant we have made.” Over the years, leaders have emphasized that repent and make covenants are the main reasons for this weekly reminder. Reminder of what? To do something that is not humanly possible.
As thirteenth President Ezra Taft Benson wrote,
“We go to our chapels each week to worship the Lord and renew our covenants by partaking of the sacrament. We thereby promise to take His name upon us, to always remember Him, and keep all His commandments. Our agreement to keep all the commandments is our covenant with God. Only as we do this may we deserve His blessings and merit His mercy.”The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 442.
Notice how commandments are kept in order that the Latter-day Saint might “merit His mercy.” It is all on the back of the individual Latter-day Saint to qualify for forgiveness. And not just “some of the commandments, but as God said in D&C 25:15, “all” of them. A person cannot have the Spirit unless everything that was promised is accomplished. First Presidency member Dallin H. Oaks told a general conference audience,
“The scriptures repeatedly teach that the Spirit of the Lord will not dwell in an unclean tabernacle. When we worthily partake of the sacrament, we are promised that we will ‘always have his Spirit to be with [us].’ To qualify for that promise we covenant that we will ‘always remember him’ (D&C 20:77).”“Pornography,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2005, 88. Brackets in original).
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
Matthew 26:26–29; Mark 14:22–25
The sacrament is an opportunity to remember the Savior.
When the Savior introduced the sacrament to His disciples, what thoughts and feelings do you imagine they would have had? Think about this as you read about their experience in Matthew 26:26–29 and Mark 14:22–25. Why do you think Jesus chose this way for us to remember Him? You might also ponder experiences you have had during the sacrament. Is there anything you could do to make your experience more sacred and meaningful?
For one, I would think it would be more meaningful if the liquid wasn’t just water but had a red color to it, since this element is supposed to symbolize the blood of the covenant. In earlier days, Mormons did use wine, but Joseph Smith supposedly had a revelation where God told him to use water because they could not verify where the wine originated. Still, even grape juice would be more symbolic to represent the blood than pure water.
It is the blood of Jesus that saves, as testified to in these New Testament verses:
- “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. “ (Romans 5:9)
- “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7)
- “…that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:12-13)
- “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:14)
- “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:7)
After reading and pondering these verses, you might write down some things you feel inspired to remember about the Savior. You could review these things the next time you take the sacrament. You could also review them at other times, as a way to “always remember him” (Moroni 4:3).
And that’s the question: Does any Latter-day Saint “always remember him”? To those who do not “continue to live righteously throughout their lives,” there are consequences according to the LDS leaders. As twelfth President Spencer W. Kimball put it, “numerous members of the Church will be disappointed. All will fail of these blessings who fail to live worthy lives…” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 246). Yet which Mormon is truly living worthy lives. (To see Kimball’s standards, visit page 25 of his book.)
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
Matthew 26:26–29; Mark 14:22–25.
What is your family’s experience like during the sacrament each week? Reading about the first sacrament could inspire a discussion about the importance of the sacrament and ways to improve your experience. Consider displaying the picture Passing the Sacrament (Gospel Art Book, no. 108) and sharing ideas about what you can do before, during, and after the sacrament.
Perhaps the question ought to be, “Ask your family if they covenanted to keep some or all of the covenants? If some, which ones? If all, what does that mean? What happens to a person who does not keep all of his or her promises?”
After reading these verses, you might talk together about how other people know that you are disciples of Jesus Christ. How does the Savior want His followers to be known? You could ask family members to talk about people whose love for others shows that they are true disciples of Jesus Christ. You might also discuss ways you could show more love as a family.
Certainly love is important. But before we can truly love, we must have the truth. Jesus said in John 4:24, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” He declared in John 8:32 that “ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” He also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).
Where can the truth be found? It is found in God’s Word, the Bible, as this is God’s special revelation for people today. John 17:17 says, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” As the apostle Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
So, first we must have the truth and believe in the true God and Jesus as declared in the pages of the Bible. Then we will be able to fully love, which is the first fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5. It goes in that order.
My love for others is a sign that I am a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
Earlier, Jesus had given a commandment to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39). Now He gave “a new commandment.” What do you think it means to love others as Jesus loves you? (see John 13:34).
You might also ponder how other people know that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ. How can you make sure that love is your defining characteristic as a Christian?
The same apostle John who wrote the Gospel also wrote 1 John. He talks about this issue quite a bit. I love what 1 John 3:16-18 says:
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
In conjunction with John, this is what Paul (1 Corinthians 13) and James (James 2) are talking about.
The LDS sacrament is an event where people repent of their sins and covenant to keep all of God’s commandments. I have nothing against repentance or keeping the commandments of God. But, for Latter-day Saints whose sins have not been fully forgiven through faith, it’s a do-or-die situation. They are promising to do something that is not humanly possible. They try their best during the week but come back defeated the following Sunday, having not accomplished what their scripture (1 Nephi 3:7) says should be possible to do.
For Christians, the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper is a reminder of the price paid for the believer’s sins. The bread (His body) and the wine/grape juice (His blood) symbolizes the atonement in a way that just saying it cannot do.
The difference is this:
For Latter-day Saints, the sacrament is a reminder that they did not do what they are capable of doing and yet once again fell short. For the Christian, communion/Lord’s Supper/eucharist is a reminder that Jesus paid the whole price and there is nothing that could have been done to earn that status. Rather, it was Jesus who said, “It is finished.”
What a contrast between Mormonism and biblical Christianity.