Holy Week: The Sacrament


Where is the exact moment Jesus Christ stopped being a Jew and became the founder of a new and separate religion?

Was it when the Sanhedrin rejected him? When enough other Jews decided he was a heretic, rather than a teacher? Was it the first time he claimed to be the Son of God? When he called his Twelve Apostles, and called Peter the rock upon which he would build his church?

Personally, I think it was the last time he celebrated Passover with his disciples. I'm switching over to Luke 22 for this one.

The celebration of Passover included the eating of unleavened bread and drinking wine. But what Jesus does with them here is where I think the break between Judaism and Christianity begins:

19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

To have a new testament signifies the formation of a new covenant. This is the moment where Jesus uses the authority he has from God to form a new community with a religious identity separate and distinct from Judaism. While Jesus was a Jew, followed Jewish law, observed Jewish customs and holidays, and worshiped the same God as the Jews, he intended to create a church and a community that would break from Jewish traditions. The institution of the Sacrament (our terminology for Holy Communion or the Eucharist in other traditions) was the initiation of this break.

Because Latter-day Saints haven’t celebrated Holy Week historically, and this is something our currently leadership is inviting us to change, it’s been really special to see what other Christians do to make this time special. It has been a great reminder that Easter is the opportunity for all Christians, including us, to celebrate the relationships we've personally developed with Jesus Christ. We have more in common with other Christians than we might think we do, and it’s because we all have this common belief in how much Jesus Christ and his ministry changed the world.

I’m still contemplating what it means for me to celebrate Holy Week. I’ve thought about the choice I made at Easter time many years ago to be baptized. I went to the temple yesterday. I’ve been studying scriptures for these daily meditations, which I’ve enjoyed very much. And tomorrow, my husband and I are going to an orchestral performance of Rob Gardner's Lamb of God. There isn’t really an established program for any of this for our people now, and we’re each contemplating how to do this and make it personally meaningful.

My favorite part of sharing these has been the ways you all have shared how my thoughts are helping you to develop your own Holy Week messages and traditions with your own families. I’ve deeply enjoyed those messages, and I think this was the wisdom in having us begin participating in these traditions: the way we would help each other and celebrate our faith in Christ together. 

It truly doesn’t get better than that. And I hope that becomes a key feature of what Latter-day Saints celebrating Holy Week looks like going forward.

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