“The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” reads: “[Jesus Christ] instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice” (Ensign or Liahona, Apr. 2000, 2). When we partake of the sacrament, we are reminded that the Savior bled at every pore and died for us; we also renew our covenants with the Lord.
Display the accompanying image or another image depicting the Last Supper, and invite a student to explain what event the picture depicts:
How would you feel if the Savior Himself prepared, blessed, and gave you the sacrament?
Invite a student to read Luke 22:15 aloud. Encourage the class to consider during the lesson why the Savior desired to spend the Passover with His Apostles.
Invite a student to read Matthew 26:26–28 aloud while the class follows along. Define the word testament by explaining that it was translated from a Greek word that means “covenant” (you may want to suggest that students write this definition in the margin of their scriptures). Discuss the following question:
If Jesus was instituting a new testament, or covenant, what covenant would it replace?
The following information will provide background or context that will be helpful for your discussion: Anciently, when Jehovah made His covenant with the children of Israel, Moses taught them Jehovah’s words and the people covenanted to obey those words. Then Moses offered an animal sacrifice, took blood from the animal, and sprinkled it on the people, saying, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you.” (See Exodus 24:3–8.) Jesus alluded to Moses’s statement when He taught that He was about to establish a new covenant with God’s children by the shedding of His blood (just as the sprinkling of the blood of animals symbolized the children of Israel entering the old covenant with Jehovah). When Jesus presented the cup of wine to His Apostles, He signaled the fulfillment of the old covenant and the establishment of the new (see Hebrews 9:12–15). The Law of Moses (the old covenant) was, in many ways, a grand prophecy of the Messiah. Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of that prophecy (see 2 Nephi 11:4; Jacob 4:5; Alma 34:13–14), particularly in the sense that He achieved the ultimate purpose of that law through His atoning sacrifice.
What does the offering of blood in both the old and new covenants focus our attention on? (The Atonement of Jesus Christ and the shedding of His blood for the remission of our sins.)
Display the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud:
“The sacrament is the ordinance that replaced the blood sacrifices and burnt offerings of the Mosaic law, and with it came the Savior’s promise: ‘And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost’ (3 Nephi 9:20)” (“Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 19).
How would you summarize the truths we have discussed so far about the Last Supper? (As students respond, emphasize that Jesus Christ fulfilled the old covenant, and He established the new covenant through the sacrament.)
Divide students into pairs. Invite each pair to read Luke 22:19–20 and 3 Nephi 18:7, 11. Ask them to identify another reason (in addition to establishing a new covenant) why the Savior instituted the sacrament. Discuss the following questions:
What reason did the Savior give for instituting the sacrament? (Students should identify the following truth: As we partake of the sacrament we should remember the Savior.)
Why is it important that we make the effort to remember the Savior as we partake of the sacrament?
If we fail to remember the Savior and what He has done for us, what meaning does the sacrament have?
Consider providing each student with a copy of the accompanying handout, which contains portions of a talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Invite students to read the handout silently. After sufficient time, discuss the following questions:
What counsel would you give to someone who struggles to focus on the Savior and His sacrifice during the administration of the sacrament? (As students respond, you might point out that as we look for opportunities to think of the Savior’s life and ministry during the week, it will be easier for us to focus on Him during the administration of the sacrament on Sunday.)
What blessings have you felt as you have tried to remember the Savior and His Atonement as you partake of the sacrament?
Why is it unwise to partake of the sacrament unworthily?
It may be helpful to share the following statement by Elder John H. Groberg of the Seventy, who explained what it means to partake of the sacrament worthily:
“If we desire to improve (which is to repent) and are not under priesthood restriction, then, in my opinion, we are worthy. If, however, we have no desire to improve, if we have no intention of following the guidance of the Spirit, we must ask: Are we worthy to partake, or are we making a mockery of the very purpose of the sacrament, which is to act as a catalyst for personal repentance and improvement?” (“The Beauty and Importance of the Sacrament,” Ensign, May 1989, 38).
What are the blessings for those who partake worthily? (see 3 Nephi 20:8–9). (Make sure students understand that if we partake of the sacrament prayerfully and in a repentant spirit, we can receive a remission of sins, just as we did when we were baptized.)
Display the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and ask a student to read it aloud:
“Without some provision for further cleansing after our baptism, each of us is lost to things spiritual. We cannot have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and at the final judgment we would be bound to be ‘cast off forever’ (1 Ne. 10:21). How grateful we are that the Lord has provided a process for each baptized member of His Church to be periodically cleansed from the soil of sin. The sacrament is an essential part of that process” (“The Aaronic Priesthood and the Sacrament,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 38).
According to Elder Oaks, why is the sacrament such a vital gospel ordinance?
Share this additional statement by Elder Oaks:
“We are commanded to repent of our sins and to come to the Lord with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and partake of the sacrament in compliance with its covenants. When we renew our baptismal covenants in this way, the Lord renews the cleansing effect of our baptism. In this way we are made clean and can always have His Spirit to be with us. The importance of this is evident in the Lord’s commandment that we partake of the sacrament each week (see D&C 59:8–9)” (“The Aaronic Priesthood and the Sacrament,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 38).
You might explain that when we worthily partake of the sacrament, we “renew all covenants entered into with the Lord” (Delbert L. Stapley, in Conference Report, Oct. 1965, 14; italics added; see also L. Tom Perry, “As Now We Take the Sacrament,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 41).
Invite students to review Luke 22:15. Then ask:
If someone were to ask you why you think Jesus was so desirous to spend the Passover with His Apostles, how would you answer? What testimony would you bear?
Testify that as we remember Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, and as we worthily partake of the sacrament, we renew our covenants with God. Encourage students to ponder how they can individually offer a “broken heart and a contrite spirit” when they partake of the sacrament. Challenge them to make the ordinance of the sacrament a regular spiritual experience.