Because symbols are all around us, we often don’t think about them very much. But paying closer attention to gospel symbols can be a key to greater understanding.
The scriptures use words like type, shadow, emblem, token, sign, parable, remembrance, witness, or testimony to describe something that is meant to point our thoughts toward something else (see Moses 6:63). For instance, when Jesus introduced the sacrament at the Last Supper, He gave His disciples the broken bread they were to eat and said, “This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). Now, obviously the bread was not literally His body; as He said, it is meant to remind us of His body—and much more. That’s what makes symbols so powerful—they communicate without language and trigger a number of related thoughts all at once, adding depth and meaning.
Of course, ordinances are not merely symbolic gestures; they carry real power to bless us through the authority of the priesthood. But they also contain symbols that teach us about the Savior and about our covenants. Even the act of submitting to and receiving a priesthood ordinance is an outward sign of a person’s faith and humility. Here are many of the symbols connected with the ordinances of baptism, confirmation, and the sacrament, as well as some of the ideas associated with them.
Focused on the Atonement
“Every ordinance of the gospel focuses in one way or another on the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, and surely that is why this particular ordinance [of the sacrament] with all its symbolism and imagery comes to us more readily and more repeatedly than any other in our life.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “‘This Do in Remembrance of Me,’” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 67.
Join the Conversation
Things to Ponder for Sunday
How do the symbols in the ordinances of baptism, confirmation, and the sacrament help you remember the Savior and your covenants?
What goes through your mind during the sacrament each week?
Things You Might Do
Write in your journal about something you thought or felt during the sacrament.
In church, talk about a symbol in the sacrament and how it helps you remember the Savior.