Saturday, November 6, 2010

3 Nephi 18: 3-4

"And when the Disciples had come with bread and wine, he took of the bread and brake and blessed it; and he gave unto the Disciples and commanded that they should eat.  And when they had eaten and were filled, he commanded that they should give unto the multitude."
It is interesting these 12 are consistently referred to as "disciples" and not as "Apostles." There isn't a single "Apostle" in the Book of Mormon record. Only "disciples." There are 12 of them, and they are treated exactly as were the Apostles in Jerusalem. This was a distinction David Whitmer believed to be significant. He disliked the claim to restore Apostles.
Well, the disciples are described as "twelve" or "the twelve" in the first references. Then they are called "disciples." In the printing we have the "D" capitalized. This is an attempt by typesetting to distinguish and make more important these "big-D" disciples from other run-of-the-mill "small-d" disciples. But printers should not trick your mind into accepting the distinction. The Lord leveled these twelve. He made them merely disciples, which is a term applied with equal meaning to any of those who were present on that day.
The twelve are taught, then asked to teach. The twelve overhear the Lord break and then bless the bread. The record at this point does not include the words Christ used to bless the bread. Moroni corrects that by adding it in at a later time in the account. Here is what Christ taught when He blessed the bread: "The manner of their elders and priests administering the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church; and they administered it according to the commandments of Christ; wherefore we know the manner to be true; and the elder or priest did minister it— And they did kneel down with the church, and pray to the Father in the name of Christ, saying: O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen." (Moroni 4: 1-3.)
Notice in the narrative the Lord "commanded that they should eat." This is an interesting phrasing. It is more than an invitation. It is more than an offering. It is a commandment. Why? What is it about partaking of His sacrament, eating in remembrance of the body of Christ, that must be done? Why is it a commandment?
Notice, also, the disciples ate until they were "filled?" Does this mean their stomachs were sated? Does it mean their souls were affected? Does it mean both? How were they "filled" by partaking of the bread?
Did they need to be "filled" themselves before they would be permitted to minister to others? Was that why the Lord required them to first partake then be filled before they were commanded to minister to the others?
When they ministered to the multitude, what was it they "gave" to the multitude? Was it the bread alone? Was it also something that had "filled" them? What was going on in this ceremony?
Why would people who had seen, touched, knelt at the feet of the risen Lord, need to partake of the bread as a "witness" and "remembrance" of Him? How can this add to what they had already received? Why is the sacrament sacred enough to be celebrated by the Lord with people who are in His very presence?
Does this change in any respect how you view the sacrament? If so, how?