Thoughts on the Five Core Sacramental Symbols

Jul 12, 2013
2 min read

There are at least five core elements that are used in the ordinance of the sacrament. Back on June 16th of this year I took down some ideas in my notebook concerning them so here they are. I will also be placing any number that I think is numerically significant next to the title.

1. Altar or Table (4, 1, 2)

  • Used for sacrifices and offerings and for sacred ordinances of the gospel (LDS BD). A place where heaven and earth are bridged via covenants.
  • Altar: Zabach (Hebrew) – “to slaughter an animal”.
  • The life of the animal is represented by its blood. (Leviticus 17:11)
  • Altars are temples in their most simple form, and the covenants made at them can vary.
  • We place things on the altar to be completely consumed, we do not expect to see them again. It is expected that all ungodliness is treated this way.

2. White cloth (1)

  • White cloth might be a substitute for fire, which is often associated with the glory or presence of God.
  • That which is covered with white cloth may be considered to be covered in God’s glory.

3. Bread (4, 5)

  • The bread is divided or “cut” in token of a covenant by the priests during the sacrament hymn; this is part of the ordinance and not just for convenience. (Handbook 2:20.4.2-3)
  • Represents the resurrected body of Christ that we may obtain as God’s gift for keeping our covenants.
  • With our teeth, we crush the bread or “body” of Christ, just as our sins crushed him.
  • The bread is digested and through nutrition, portions are absorbed by our bodies, literally becoming part of us.

4. Cup (1)

  • Represents the will of God, a token of our acceptance of that will as we drink its contents.
  • The cup represents a betrothal, a marriage between Christ and his Church of whom we are a part.
  • As Christ drank a bitter cup of sin, we drink a refreshing cup of pure water, or the fruit of the vine.

5. Wine/Water (8, 2)

Other symbolic elements

Associated with these symbols are also some important things to consider. The Aaronic priesthood and their respective duties in blessing and passing the sacrament, the presiding authority who is given the tokens first, the hymn that is sung, the prayer that is offered and many other subtle elements that we might want to ponder are all there for a reason.

Check out for more insights.

What do you think?

  • What other things regarding the sacrament do you think are symbolic?
  • What factors help enhance your sacrament experience?
  • How does the sacrament influence your life?
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Mike Batie
Mike Batie
7 years ago

I’ve read that another layer of symbolism we can read into the cloth that covers the emblems of the sacrament can be compared to the burial shroud that covered Christ’s body.

Mike Batie
Mike Batie
7 years ago
Reply to  oneclimbs

Mind = blown. Thanks!

6 years ago

I love that the Priests bless the sacrament, which has been prepared by the Teachers, and then they hand the trays to the Deacons to carry to the members. Young men, boys, who hold the Priesthood of God, carry the life and hope of Jesus Christ, first to the Bishop and his counselors who lead the ward family, then to the end of each row, where often times the head of the family (father or mother) sits. The young men hold the tray while the first person partakes, and then the parent holds the tray and offers this same life… Read more »

6 years ago

One interesting thing about the symbols of the bread and wine is they both share a common symbol of “community” as well. Both of the sacraments are ferments, or products of fermentation. There are actually five or six ferments mentioned in the word of wisdom, depending upon how you count them, and five of them are listed on what we like to call our ‘no’ list. They are wine, beer (mild barley and grain), tobacco, black tea (hot drink). Hard drink is a distilled ferment, and all of the life is removed in this process. Bread, as pointed to by… Read more »

6 years ago
Reply to  oneclimbs

Sorry about that, it was sloppy writing by me. I performed a little edit to clear that up.

Ayden Howie
Ayden Howie
5 years ago

Some of these are quite corny and I’m not sure if you are using pure doctrine to support a lot of them. The water does not actually constitute the sacrament in some places in the world as well since Joseph Smith stated that you can use whatever is available to you because its the ordinance that counts and not the substance. For example we once had fruit juice for our sacrament liquid since the tap water in our chapel had been contaminated. But hey maybe i’m being too pessimistic about this and not seeing the correct intentions of this article.… Read more »

3 years ago
Reply to  Ayden Howie

In a way I am somewhat in agreement, not so much corny as not material that can be used in say a sacrament meeting or such. Every one has wonderful opinions and creative imaginations but if we would truly lay a foundation of understanding we should do it on the scriptures and words of the apostles. By not tying your thoughts to credible sources they must ever spin into oblivion as just another set of opinions.

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