If we err it is not because He failed to teach. He has made it plain to us that we may know the way to follow.
When we do more or less, we find ourselves in the sand, and no longer standing upon Him, the Rock of Heaven. (Moses 7: 53.)
There is more going on here than an ordinance and a testimony. This is the means by which a link is formed that can and will result in the Father taking that which is corruptible and changing it into that which is incorruptible. Though, like Christ, a man or woman may be required to lay down their life, they shall have power given them to take it up again. For that which has been touched by the incorruptible power of His Spirit cannot be left without hope in the grave. All such people die firm in the knowledge they are promised a glorious resurrection. (D&C 138: 14.)
This, then, is eternal life.
Well, the “thing which ye have done” that prompts the Lord to proclaim “Blessed are ye” is to have symbolically partaken of His blood. They have a part of Him by having eaten of His flesh and drank of His blood. They are now among those who demonstrate they hunger and thirst after righteousness. They are disciples indeed. Followers of the Master. Obedient to Him and willing to take His name upon them.
What does it mean to have Christ’s Spirit to be with you? To guide you?
“And it came to pass that when he said these words, he commanded his Disciples that they should take of the wine of the cup and drink of it, and that they should also give unto the multitude that they might drink of it.”
In this description we do not have mention of the blessing pronounced upon the wine. Moroni will later clarify that it was blessed and provide us the words of His blessing: “The manner of administering the wine—Behold, they took the cup, and said: O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee, in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine 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.” (Moroni 5: 1-2.)
Once again it is a “command” to partake. The Lord, knowing how critical this act is for salvation and a testimony before the Father, makes it a command that the disciples drink of it.
Wine was generally either purple or red. Our blood is purple when deprived of oxygen in our veins, and red when filled with oxygen in our arteries. These two colors of blood inside our bodies are akin to the predominate colors of wine.
Once again it is the disciples who partake first. Then, after having partaken, they pass it to the multitude. This illustrates the practice of receiving it before being able to pass it to others. It is not possible to pass along what has not first been received. This is true of all the Lord’s ordinances. It is one of the reasons Alma rebaptized himself the instant he first began to baptize others. (Mosiah 18: 14.) Those who bless are to be sanctified by partaking, then they pass the sacrament as sanctified ministers. Those who are passing are not more important, but rather they are first purified. Then those to whom they minister may receive the ordinance from those who are already clean.
If the last post did not make the matter clear enough, the Lord emphasizes here the formula He has provided in this ordinance:
-“Always observe to do.” It is to be done, and when it is done it is to be done in an “observant” way.
-“Even as I have done.” His example is intended to clarify and define the manner the ordinance is to be observed. He regulates it by what He has done.
-“Even as I have broken bread and blessed it.” The manner, the process, the gestures of breaking it first and then blessing it second, are to be followed exactly.
-“And given it unto you.” When it is broken, then blessed, those who qualify by having repented and been baptized receive it as a gift or token from Christ. It is His body.
Now the Lord clarifies in explanation what He has earlier clarified in the blessing: This is to be done “in remembrance of [His] body.” It is through His body that He, the living sacrifice, shows us the way. A loving God has died for us. His body is a testimony of life, obedience, sacrifice, cruelty, forgiveness, death, resurrection, immortality, power and glory. When you remember His life you should remember all that is associated with it.
Here the Lord reminds the Nephites they are to remember the body “which [He] has shown unto [them].” The sacred embrace and ceremony of recognition (a term I coined in The Second Comforter), should return to the mind of those present whenever they received the bread again. The Lord could give no greater testimony of what He had done, who He was, and how He served them than by showing to them His risen body still bearing the marks of crucifixion.
The act is intended to be a “testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember [Him].” The act of testifying is not composed merely of the act of eating the bread. To actually testify to the Father you must:
2. Be baptized
3. Receive the bread after it has been properly blessed with power
4. Remember His body and the ten things symbolized through it
This is the acceptable sacrifice the Father will receive as a “testimony” of Christ.
Should you perform this, then you will receive power to “have [His] Spirit to be with you.”
These are simple steps. They are possible to be performed. When they are, the Father receives the act as a testimony before Him of the truth that you do always remember His Son. It will be recorded in heaven, and will be a witness for your salvation in the Day of Judgment.
These are solemn things. It is clear enough that we accomplish these things. But it is not clear how often they are performed, even in a church, which at one time, conducted a ceremony twice each Sunday, and today conducts it once each Sunday.
It is interesting the Lord should give us language that makes “observing to do” and “as He has done” a required part of the process. Those words are probably best when viewed in their clearest meaning, and accomplished with exactitude. Though He measures our hearts, when instructions are given in simplicity, one fair measure of the heart is how closely we follow the instruction.
Since the result is to have His Spirit to be with you, it should be a simple matter to determine by reflection if you have His Spirit as your companion. If you can feel that He is always with you, then you have an acceptable testimony to the Father. If you do not, then perhaps you should revisit the steps He has provided to see what you might improve. There is a law irrevocably decreed before the foundation of the world upon which all blessings are predicated. And when we receive any blessing from the Lord, it is by obedience to the law upon which the blessing is provided. Therefore, it makes sense that you can determine the extent to which you have followed the formula by the result promised. Having Christ’s Spirit to be with you is significant enough proof that you should know the truth of the matter. Since you know the means by which to judge, see that you judge the matter correctly. (Moroni 7: 18.)
“And when the multitude had eaten and were filled, he said unto the Disciples: Behold there shall one be ordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall break bread and bless it and give it unto the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name.”
Notice now the “multitude” takes part in eating the bread and “were filled.” This raises the question of how they were filled. Were their stomachs filled because of the amount they ate? Did they eat until they were filled, or did they get filled on just a small amount of bread? Or was this a spiritual filling where each heart was touched and each person’s countenance before the Lord filled with light?
This is a group which has just a few hours before engaged in a “hosanna shout” before the Lord. (3 Nephi 11: 17.) Now, however, they are “filled.” It is a profound moment with deep significance.
The Lord then tells the disciples that “there shall be one ordained among you” to break the bread. Notice it is “one.” All twelve have been asked to pass the sacrament to the multitude, but from among them “shall one be ordained” to receive “power that he shall break bread and bless it.” Why would only “one” be chosen to do this? All twelve had been given the power to baptize. (3 Nephi 11: 21-22.) Only one of them is to bless the sacrament. What does that suggest about the sanctity of the sacrament, if it is performed in the correct manner? Should it be viewed as a “higher ordinance” because of the more exclusive reservation of the “power” conferred by the Lord? What does that tell us about the manner we ought to proceed? Have we missed something in our reading of these verses?
Now the record is written by Nephi. (3 Nephi 1: 2.) He is the first one called by the Lord. (3 Nephi 11: 18.) He is the first one given power to baptize by the Lord. (3 Nephi 11: 18-21.) But the identity of the person given “power that he shall break bread and bless it” is not recorded. We can know it is Nephi because he was always the one given the other power first. More to the point, however, we can know it was him because he kept the record. Had it been another, he would have told us. But since it was him, he declined to draw further attention to himself. Identifying himself previously was necessary for the narrative to be complete. Here, however, identifying himself would call undue attention. As a humble follower of Christ, it was not appropriate for him to do so, therefore the disciple is unnamed in our account.
Why is “power [to] break bread and bless it” conferred separately from the power to baptize? In our Section 20, the authority is coextensive. (See D&C 20: 38-39, 46.) Why does the Lord separate it among the Nephites? Since we have this account, does it add any instruction for us about the significance of the sacrament?
Sometimes we neglect things because of our familiarity with them. We presume wrongly that we understand them because of their frequent repetition. Here, however, the sacrament seems to take on greater significance. It achieves a pinnacle that exceeds even touching the risen Lord.
When we share food with one another, we become part of the same material. We share substance. When a meal is shared, life is shared. We become one of the same substance.
The substance which binds us is the “body of Christ” in symbol. Christ “broke” the bread before it was blessed. What does breaking the bread symbolize about Christ? How is His broken body intended to unite us with one another, and with Him?
Why is the broken bread distributed to those who “
The Lord occupies the role as Master and as Example. He bids us to follow Him. And He tells us His way is plain. If we confuse it, muddle it, and fail to do it as He has asked us to do, then it is not His failure, but ours. He has made it clear that He respects no one, but is open to all. But it is open on the exact terms. And some times the terms are exacting.
“Behold, I do not destroy the prophets, for as many as have not been fulfilled in me, verily I say unto you, shall all be fulfilled. And because I said unto you that old things have passed away, I do not destroy that which hath been spoken concerning things which are to come. For behold, the covenant which I have made with my people is not all fulfilled; but the law which was given unto Moses hath an end in me.“
The Lord does not make a promise and fail to fulfill it. (D&C 1: 38.) Therefore, when a promise has been made by Him, it will come to pass. But the promise must be His. No agent or spokesman can speak in His name and obligate Him to perform unless the words spoken are His. Even if a man should qualify to hold sealing power, that power will only bind what is in conformity with His word. (Helaman 10: 5.) There is no obligation on Him to perform what is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. (See, e.g., D&C 132: 18 and D&C 88: 3.) So it is not every person who speaks, even if in a position of leading others, claiming “Lord, Lord” as they do, whose words obligate the Lord to fulfill. But the opposite is also true. If the person is clothed with nothing other than the Lord’s private commission to speak, if he speaks the Lord’s words they will “all be fulfilled.” Abinadi was so obscure a character that we don’t know if he was Lamanite or Nephite. He is the only person in the entire Book of Mormon record with the name Abinadi. He came from nowhere, was imprisoned by the leading authorities of the church, and was killed by those who presumed to exercise judgment over him. Yet it was he who bore the Lord’s words. The entire society he preached to were held to account for both his words and how they reacted to them (and him).
The intergenerational work of saving mankind is always the same. The promise to save through the chosen lineage all of mankind is still in effect. It existed before Moses, and will continue after the fulfillment of the law of Moses. The great prophecies and promises pointing to His second coming remain in effect. His first coming only fulfilled Moses’ law. His second will fulfill the rest of the promises concerning Him as the great Deliverer, the world’s judge, and the one whose right it is to rule as “King of kings and Lord of lords.”