The content of this blog presumes you are already familiar with Denver Snuffer's books. Careful explanations given in the books lay the foundation for what is contained here. If you read this blog without having first read his books, then you assume responsibility for your own misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the writer's intent. Please do not presume to judge Mr. Snuffer's intentions if you have not first read his books.
"And it came to pass that Jesus commanded his Disciples that they should bring forth some bread and wine unto him. And while they were gone for bread and wine, he commanded the multitude that they should sit themselves down upon the earth."
The Lord requires His disciples to bring some bread and wine to Him. It suggests that all 12 of these disciples were asked to retrieve the items. "While they were gone for bread and wine" suggests that all 12 were involved. Perhaps there were others, as well. What is to take place next would likely require the effort of more than 12, for it will involve all 2,500 of those present. (3 Nephi 17: 25.)
We know what is coming. But taking this from the perspective of the Nephite audience, what would gathering "bread" foreshadow? Would they associate it with the Table of Shewbread? Would they expect a wave offering? What might their anticipation be as they awaited the arrival of the bread? How might their expectations have prepared them to receive a new ordinance? Would what follows have reaffirmed Christ fulfilled the law of Moses?
Why did the Lord ask for "wine?" What is there in the symbol of "wine" that testifies of Him? We know that in exigencies we can substitute water for wine. (D&C 27: 2.) But the Lord requested "wine" to be brought for the ordinance He was about to introduce.
Section 27:2 was given because the Prophet Joseph was on his way to procure wine from an enemy who wished him harm. The possibility of the wine being adulterated was significant. Since an angel met Joseph on his way and revealed that a substitute could be used, it is likely if wine had been procured it would have been poisoned. The revelation gives precautions to be taken in preparing wine for the sacrament. (D&C 27: 3-4.) The Saints were to prepare their own wine, and know it is safe for use in the sacrament.
To conform to this revelation, when the Saints moved west there was a "Wine Mission" established in Southern Utah. The Mormon Wine Mission did not have a formal separate existence, but was within the boundaries of the Cotton Mission of 1861.The Saints made their own wine because of D&C 27: 3-4. If the Saints did not make the wine themselves, they were to use water. Therefore, to conform to the pattern of the Lord, and the revelation to guard against the mischief of enemies, the wine mission was established to produce wine for the sacrament.
Master vintner John C. Naegle was called by Brigham Young to establish and operate a winery in Toquerville and to instruct people in the wine making process. The operation that Naegle presided over built a rock house for production which included a wine cellar underneath large enough to accommodate a wagon and a team of horses and allow them to turn around. In the production house were located the vats, presses, and other production equipment to produce and ferment the wine. They produced 500-gallon casks. The wine was shipped in smaller 40-gallon casks. It was distributed through ZCMI. Wine making became an important Southern Utah industry.
As President Grant elevated the Word of Wisdom from wise advice to a strict commandment, the practice of using wine in the sacrament came to an end. Since that time Latter-day Saints have taken a dim view of using wine in the sacrament.
Ask yourself, however, which is a more appropriate symbol of the Lord's supper: water or wine? If water were more so, then why did the Lord not institute use of water among the Nephites in the ceremony He is about to introduce in the verses which follow? Why is the sacrament prayer in both Moroni 5 and D&C 20: 78-79 spoken for "wine" rather than water?
Are we morally superior because we use water instead of wine? Have we replaced a powerful symbol with a fanatical rule? Is there such a risk of adulterated or poisoned wine by anti-Mormon suppliers that we are justified in not using wine in the sacrament?
Well, the stage is being set by the Lord for the Nephites in this verse. He is gathering attention for an ordinance to be instituted. For His purposes, our Lord asks for bread and wine. We should not impose a false cultural assessment on these words. We should not rewrite them because of our prejudice and bigotry into something other than what they say.
From the symbol of the crushed grape, its blood spilled and then allowed to ferment, comes a symbol of the great work of the Lord. The grape juice changes through fermentation from something which affects the senses. As the Psalmist puts it wine gladdens the heart. (Psalms 104: 15.) His blood was spilled and then grew into a new power intended to gladden the heart of all those who will receive it.
The Prophet was overshadowed with foreboding on the day of his death. The reason Stephen Markham was not with them in the jail at the time the final assault took place was because he had been sent to purchase wine by the Prophet. The jailer allowed the wine to return to Joseph, Hyrum, John and Willard, but Steven Markham was excluded. There were only four in the jail when the killings occurred. The reason they sent for wine was to gladden their hearts and lift their spirits from the oppression which hung over them. It was a day of triumph for evil and the spirit of that day was heavy. The wine and John Taylor's singing were to console them in the terrible moments preceding the attack by 200 conspirators intent on killing Joseph and his brother.
We have become so fanatical about being teetotalers that the story of Joseph's use of wine on the day of his martyrdom is largely unknown today. Instead the tale of him refusing to drink whiskey as a sedative for the bone operation in his youth is retold. This is used to reinforce President Grant's harsh view of the Word of Wisdom.
Now, I am advocating nothing. I abstain from all forms of alcohol, possess a temple recommend, and accept the current view of absolute abstinence from any form of alcoholic consumption. But I do not believe it is a virtue. Nor do I believe substitution of water for wine increases the sanctity of the sacrament. It may do just the opposite.
It is often the case that when men attempt to "improve" on the Lord's teachings they go backward.