The Sacrament of the Lords Supper

Daniel H. Ludlow

The Book of Mormon account of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper greatly clarifies the four accounts given in the New Testament. (See Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-20; and 1 Corinthians 11:24-27.) Also, the account in the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 18:1-12) would indicate that the Catholic doctrine of real presence (or transubstantiation) is not true. The Catholics define their doctrine as follows:

The Catholic Church has always interpreted the words: “This is My Body; This is My Blood,” which occur in the four accounts of the Last Supper, in a strictly literal sense. No explanation of these simple words can make their meaning clearer… .

The doctrine of the Real Presence is undoubtedly a great mystery like the Creation, the Blessed Trinity and the Incarnation, but it is not impossible, because it does not imply any self-contradiction. If God can create the universe out of nothing, why cannot He change the substance of bread and wine into His Body and Blood? …

Non-Catholics declare the doctrine of the Real Presence impossible, because they think it involves a self-contradiction. They suppose that it requires the same thing to be both bread and not bread at the same time. This is not the Catholic teaching. After Consecration the species of bread is not really bread, but the Body of Christ, for the substance of the bread has been changed into the substance of Christ’s Body. What is not changed is the “accidents or the sensible qualities of the bread; viz., its color, taste,” etc. But the reality of a thing lies in its substance, the invisible part of it, not in the accidents, or visible part… .

This is certainly a mysterious doctrine, hard to understand, because there is nothing like it in all our experience. But the mysteries of Christianity are all unique, because they pertain to divine things. (The Question Box [Houston: The Question Box, 1950], pp. 251, 254-55.)

The Book of Mormon, however, indicates that when we partake of the emblems of the sacrament we should do so in remembrance of the body and the blood of Jesus Christ; we are not partaking of the actual flesh and blood of the Savior. Also, the Lord has said:

Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Lord, your God, and your Redeemer, whose word is quick and powerful. For, behold, I say unto you, that it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory—remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins. (D&C 27:1-2.)

The Book of Mormon also clarifies the following points concerning the sacrament:

1. It should be administered to only by those who have the proper authority (“there shall one be ordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall break bread and bless it”—3 Nephi 18:5).

2. It should be given to those people who are members of the Church (“unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name”—3 Nephi 18:5).

3. It is a remembrance ordinance of the atonement of Jesus Christ (“this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you … and … in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you”—3 Nephi 18:7, 11).

4. It is a covenant ordinance, and those who partake of it promise that they will keep all the commandments of God (“this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you”—3 Nephi 18:10); (“And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you”—3 Nephi 18:11).

5. It should be partaken of often by members of the Church (“And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye… . And behold, ye shall meet together oft”—3 Nephi 18:12, 22).

6. It should not be partaken of by one who is unworthy (“ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily”—3 Nephi 18:28-29).

A Companion To Your Study of The Book of Mormon