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; D&C 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" (D&C 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).
—See True to the Faith (2004), 147–49
"Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament"
Vaughn J. Featherstone, Ensign, Sept. 2001, 23–25
When we partake of the sacrament with a sincere heart, with real intent, forsaking our sins, and renewing our commitment to God, the Lord provides a way whereby sins can be forgiven.
"The Restoration of the Sacrament (Part 2: A New and Ancient Covenant)"
Richard Lloyd Anderson, Ensign, Feb. 1992, 11–17
Like the sacrament accounts in the New Testament and the covenant accounts in Exodus, the Nephite account of the sacrament prayer stresses revered remembrance and commandment keeping, with a resultant blessing of always having the Lord's spirit.
"The Beauty and Importance of the Sacrament"
John H. Groberg, Ensign, May 1989, 38–40
As we worthily partake of the sacrament, we will sense those things we need to improve in and receive the help and determination to do so. No matter what our problems, the sacrament always gives hope.
"Remembering the Savior's Atonement"
David B. Haight, Ensign, Apr. 1988, 7–13
Sacrament meeting should be a time of reverence, remembrance, and thoughtful worship.
"Reflections on the Sacrament Prayers"
John S. Tanner, Tambuli, May 1987, 24–28; or Ensign, Apr. 1986, 7–11
Reminding us weekly of our need to foster charity toward our fellow Saints, the sacrament can be a great force for unity in our congregations.
"Taking upon Us the Name of Jesus Christ"
Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, May 1985, 80–83
As we partake of the sacrament, "our witness that we are willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ constitutes our declaration of candidacy for exaltation in the celestial kingdom."
"The Aaronic Priesthood and the Sacrament"
Dallin H. Oaks, Liahona, Jan. 1999, 43–46; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 37–40
All of [the] vital steps pertaining to the remission of sins are performed through the saving ordinance of baptism and the renewing ordinance of the sacrament.
"Always Have His Spirit"
Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, Nov. 1996, 59–61
The Holy Ghost . . . is our comforter, our direction finder, our communicator, our interpreter, our witness, and our purifier—our infallible guide and sanctifier.
"This Do in Remembrance of Me"
Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, Nov. 1995, 67–69
If remembering is the principal task before us, what might come to our memory when those plain and precious emblems are offered to us?
"The Restoration of the Sacrament (Part 1: Loss and Christian Reformations)"
Richard Lloyd Anderson, Ensign, Jan. 1992, 40–46
It was not until the ancient American sacrament prayer was published in the Book of Mormon, and the authority to administer the ordinance was restored, that Christ's followers could once more enter into the full sacrament covenant.
Guide to the Scriptures
Encyclopedia of Mormonism
(Please note that the contents of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, a joint product of Brigham Young University and Macmillan Publishing Company, do not necessarily represent the official position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)
"Do Mormons Worship Jesus Christ in Their Church Services?"
A video clip of Elder M. Russell Ballard addressing this question.