In the Law of Moses, the most significant act was the sacrificing of the Paschal or Passover lamb. This was a very visceral or physical reality. The newborn lamb was held up and its throat was slit with a knife to let its blood drain away as an offering for the people. In today’s society we forget that they were dealing with a very real killing that represented the very real death of a person who would someday come and, with just as much innocence, allow himself to be slaughtered for our sins, and let his blood be spilled upon the ground so that we, his family, might have life.
The death of Jesus, which was the main reason he was born, was to perform this very sacrifice. This death was the assignment he accepted in the premortal council in heaven when he volunteered to be our Savior. How could the apostles, who did not yet have the gift of the Holy Ghost, appreciate the sacrifice he was about to make on their behalf when Christ instituted the practice of the sacrament just hours before he paid for the sins of all creation in Gethsemane and on the cross?
The sacrament is a simple substitution of a piece of bread which represents the physical body of Christ which he willingly allowed to be used and killed for our benefit. The water is an elemental substitution of water that we drink in exchange for the blood that he spilled in our behalf as he suffered for the spiritual crimes we commit, often with such careless abandon.
Is it any wonder that President Smith makes this reference in the lesson to those who come to the sacrament table seemingly oblivious to the sacredness of the experience of partaking of these emblems of Christ’s body and blood?
“I have seen two members of the Church sitting together [in sacrament meeting], enter into a conversation, stop long enough for the blessing to be asked on the water or on the bread, then start again on their conversation. … That is shocking to me, and I am sure it is to the Lord.”
He saw the sacrament as so important a commitment in our covenant-making process that he boldly stated that anyone who could take the sacrament, who chose not to for any reason, is not “loyal to the truth.” Indeed, if we find other things more important than being in church on Sunday to partake of the sacrament, we have truly lost our spiritual bearings.
“The person who absents himself from a sacrament meeting week after week and month after month, and nothing prevents him from coming, is not loyal to the truth. He does not love it. If he did, he would be present to partake of these emblems—just a little piece of bread, a little cup of water. He would want to do that to show his love for the truth and his loyal service to the Son of God.”
We are reminded that Christ commanded that this act of gathering to commemorate His sacrifice was to be done often so we will not forget what has been done in our behalf. This is why we take the sacrament each Sunday, so we do not forget the nature of the sacrifice he made for us.
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Kelly Merrill of www.mormonbasics.com