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.
When He instituted the sacrament, Jesus Christ said, “This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. … This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:19–20). The sacrament provides an opportunity for Church members to ponder and remember with gratitude the life, ministry, and Atonement of the Son of God. The broken bread is a reminder of His body and His physical suffering—especially His suffering on the cross. It is also a reminder that through His mercy and grace, all people will be resurrected and given the opportunity for eternal life with God.
The water is a reminder that the Savior shed His blood in intense spiritual suffering and anguish, beginning in the Garden of Gethsemane and concluding on the cross. In the garden He said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” (Matthew 26:38). Submitting to the will of the Father, He suffered more than we can comprehend: “Blood [came] from every pore, so great [was] his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people” (Mosiah 3:7). He suffered for the sins, sorrows, and pains of all people, providing remission of sins for those who repent and live the gospel (see 2 Nephi 9:21–23). Through the shedding of His blood, Jesus Christ saved all people from what the scriptures call the “original guilt” of Adam’s transgression (Moses 6:54).
Partaking of the sacrament is a witness to God that the remembrance of His Son will extend beyond the short time of that sacred ordinance. Part of this ordinance is a promise to remember Him always and a witness of individual willingness to take upon oneself the name of Jesus Christ and to keep His commandments. In partaking of the sacrament and making these commitments, Church members renew the covenant they made at baptism (see Mosiah 18:8–10; Doctrine and Covenants 20:37).
In return, the Lord renews the promised remission of sin and enables Church members to “always have his Spirit to be with them” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:77). The Spirit’s constant companionship is one of the greatest gifts of mortality.
In preparation for the sacrament each week, Church members take time to examine their lives and repent of sins. They do not need to be perfect in order to partake of the sacrament, but they should have a spirit of humility and repentance in their hearts. Every week they strive to prepare for that sacred ordinance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit (see 3 Nephi 9:20).
Aaron L. West, “Little Children and the Sacrament,” Ensign, October 2016
“Line upon Line: Matthew 26:26–28,” New Era, October 2016
“Questions & Answers: What am I supposed to think about during the sacrament?” New Era, June 2014
“Renewing Covenants through the Sacrament,” Ensign, June 2010
Marilynne Linford, “Questions and Answers about the Sacrament,” Friend, March 2008
Laurel Rohlfing, “Remember Jesus Christ during the Sacrament,” Ensign, June 2007
Richard Lloyd Anderson, “The Restoration of the Sacrament (Part 1: Loss and Christian Reformations),” Ensign, January 1992
Richard Lloyd Anderson, “The Restoration of the Sacrament (Part 2: A New and Ancient Covenant),” Ensign, February 1992
Pat Graham, “Sharing Time: Be Grateful for the Sacrament,” Friend, November 1987
John S. Tanner, “Reflections on the Sacrament Prayers,” Ensign, April 1986
“Viewpoint: The Sacred Ordinance of the Sacrament,” Church News
“Young Men, Teach about the Sacrament, Brother Beck Says,” Church News
“Sacrament,” Lesson Helps for Teaching Children