After hearing and studying the October 2020 general conference addresses of our Prophet, General Authorities, and General Officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we should look forward to partaking the sacrament on the upcoming Sabbath Day. One of the “Ideas for Personal Scripture Study” in the September 28-October 11 Book of Mormon 2020 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families emphasizes the following: “I can be spiritually filled as I partake of the sacrament. As you read 3 Nephi 18:1–12, ponder how taking the sacrament can help you be spiritually “filled” (3 Nephi 18:3–5, 9; see also 3 Nephi 20:1–9).” These comments and scriptures suggest that we can receive spiritual guidance as we partake of the sacramental emblems.
Remembering the Body of Jesus Christ
When Jesus first administered the sacrament to the Nephites, He gave these instructions about partaking of the bread: “This shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me” (3 Nephi 18:7). It is not insignificant that Jesus asked the people to think of His resurrected body. The previous day a multitude of approximately 2500 “men, women, and children” (3 Nephi 17:25) were invited to come “and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth” (3 Nephi 11:15). They were privileged to learn and testify that Jesus had risen from the grave and that all mankind will be resurrected. Like the Nephites, we need to remember that Jesus is the Living Christ.
Remembering the Blood of Jesus Christ
When drinking from the sacramental cup, Jesus teaches, “ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you” (3 Nephi 18:11). This should focus our thoughts on two key final events in Christ’s mortal ministry: His sufferings in the Garden of Gethsemane that were concluded with His agonies and death upon the cross at Calvary.
Concerning Christ’s sufferings in Gethsemane, Luke records, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
To the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jesus revealed: “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:18-19).
In 2018 while in Jerusalem, President Russell M. Nelson’s bore this testimony: “I am standing on the Mount of Olives. Here at the base of the mount, Jesus came to the Garden of Gethsemane. He came to submit to the will of His Father and offer Himself as the sacrifice for the sins and weaknesses, the pains and burdens of all who had ever lived. In that garden, olives had been pressed under great weight to squeeze precious oil from the olives. In like manner, Jesus was literally pressed under the weight of the sins of the world. There He sweat great drops of blood, His life’s ‘oil,’ which issued from every pore” (Special Witnesses of Christ—President Nelson, ChurchofJesusChrist.org video series).
It is impossible for us to know or understand all that Jesus suffered and endured at the Garden of Gethsemane. We know, however, that Christ “suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-17). Since all of us have sinned, we can only access the conditional aspects of Christ’s great atoning sacrifice through repentance and obedience.
Following Christ by Taking Up Our Personal Crosses
In one of the last recorded appearances of Jesus in the Book of Mormon, He clearly explained His gospel: “My Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me … that they may be judged according to their works. And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world” (3 Nephi 27:14-16). As modern-day Apostles have testified, “Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts” (“The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” Ensign, 2017).
With respect to the how Christ’s sufferings on the cross relate to us, Jesus repeatedly taught during His mortal ministry, “He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38).
This warning has been re-emphasized for Latter-day Saints, “You must take up your cross, in the which you must pray vocally, before the world as well as in secret, and in your family, and among your friends, and in all places” (Doctrine and Covenants 23:6). When we partake of the sacrament, we need to pray about what we have done and are doing in our daily lives.
In reflecting on how we should take up our individual crosses, President Henry B. Eyring suggests a couple of strategies: “As you examine your life during the ordinance of the sacrament, I hope your thoughts center not only on things you have done wrong but also on things you have done right—moments when you have felt that Heavenly Father and the Savior were pleased with you. You may even take a moment during the sacrament to ask God to help you see these things. … When I have done this, the Spirit has reassured me that while I’m still far from perfect, I’m better today than I was yesterday. And this gives me confidence that, because of the Savior, I can be even better tomorrow” (“Always Remember Him,” Ensign, Feb. 2018, 5).
We should look forward and strive to live worthy to partake of the Lord’s sacrament. As President Dallin H. Oaks has testified, “The administration of the sacrament and the renewal of covenants and cleansing that take place in the partaking of the sacrament are the most important acts in the Sabbath worship of Latter-day Saints” (Special Witnesses of Christ—President Oaks, ChurchofJesusChrist.org video series).