Shortly before His death and resurrection, Jesus shared a meal with His apostles in Jerusalem. The purpose of this meal, which is known as the Last Supper, was to celebrate Passover, a Jewish feast commemorating the deliverance of Israel from Egypt 1,500 years earlier. During the meal, Jesus blessed and broke bread, telling His disciples, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then, He poured wine and said, “Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood” (Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20). The apostle Paul added that Jesus told the disciples, “This do in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24-25). And Luke indicated that members of the church developed the practice of meeting on the first day of the week—Sunday—to “break bread,” presumably a repetition of the practice Jesus had instituted (Acts 20:7). (See also Acts 2:42.)
Soon after the Savior’s resurrection, as He visited a group of people on the American continent, He instituted the same practice. He asked His disciples to bring bread and wine. Breaking and blessing the bread, He “gave unto the disciples and commanded that they should eat.” He then distributed “the wine of the cup” to His disciples and commanded them to distribute it to the multitude. At that time, He explained a few more things about this religious practice:
- Specific individuals will be authorized to perform this ordinance.
- The act of taking the bread and wine is itself a testimony to the Father that the people are willing to keep the Savior’s commandments and that they always remember Him.
- He promised them that, if they would always remember Him, they would always have His Spirit to be with them.
- People who repent and are baptized should “always” participate in this ordinance.
The following day, after praying with the much larger multitude who had assembled, He again gave them bread to eat and wine to drink. However, this time, there was no bread or wine brought by the disciples. These supplies appeared miraculously (3 Nephi 20:3-7). On that occasion, He said:
He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul; and his soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled (3 Nephi 20:8).
Near the end of the Book of Mormon, the prophet Moroni added a few more chapters, after surviving alone for longer than he had expected (Moroni 1:4). Among those chapters are instructions for “administering the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church,” including specific words to be used in blessing the bread and the wine (Moroni 4, Moroni 5). Those words echo some of the teachings of the Savior in the passages above, including the concept that we eat and drink “to [our] souls,” that we witness our remembrance of Jesus and our willingness to keep His commandments by partaking, and that we will receive His Spirit if we always remember Him.
In the following chapter, Moroni explained that this became a common practice in the church: “They did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus” (Moroni 6:6).
Today, I will be grateful for the additional knowledge about the sacrament provided by the Book of Mormon. I will remember that disciples of Christ have a duty to participate in this ordinance regularly. I will remember that participating in this ordinance is a way of demonstrating to my Heavenly Father that I always remember His Son, and that I can thus qualify for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. I will also remember that I eat the bread and drink the water to my soul, and that, if I do so appropriately, my soul will be filled.