“Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?” (Matthew 20:22)
This was the question that Jesus asked His disciples when two of them were trying to arrange to have seats of honor right next to Him in the kingdom of heaven. The question had nothing to do with drinking an actual beverage from a cup. In this case, Jesus drinking from this “cup” meant that He would be giving His life for the cause. Jesus wanted to know if His disciples were willing to do the same.
The disciples answered, “We are able!” It didn’t get them the seats of honor in heaven, but Jesus was glad to hear that His disciples were that committed to the cause — many of them did in fact eventually give their lives for the cause of Christ.
Some time later, during the last supper that Jesus shared with His disciples, the disciples literally were able to drink out of a cup that represented the blood that Jesus would spill as He gave His life for the cause. On that occasion, Jesus took His cup of wine and “gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:27-28).
The disciples were able to drink of this cup because they had been forgiven of their sins and they were willing to dedicate their lives to the cause of Christ. They would go forward fearlessly — once they received the Holy Ghost — representing Christ and remembering that He shed His blood for this cause. Even as they drank out of this common cup, they were united in this common cause, even being willing to give their own lives for it, if and when it became necessary.
Are we able to drink of this cup today? Not only to drink from a cup of wine but also to be united in the common cause of Christ, even giving our lives for it if necessary? Hopefully, we can all answer, “Yes, we are able!”
In The Church of Jesus Christ, we do offer the opportunity to share a cup of wine as Jesus did with His disciples. Members of the Church who have been forgiven of their sins through baptism, have expressed their willingness to dedicate their lives to the cause of Christ, and have received the Holy Ghost are eligible to participate in the Lord’s Supper, which includes drinking from the cup of wine that represents the blood spilled by Jesus for the remission of sins.
While some people may occasionally get a little nervous about drinking from the same cup as other people — especially during times when the risk of catching an illness from others is higher — we take courage in knowing that we are doing it the way Jesus taught, so we can have faith that He is with us as we follow His commandment. For myself, I can state that I have never gotten sick from sharing a communion cup with any congregation, nor do I know anyone else who has.
During the recent pandemic, one member of the Church had a dream in which he saw Jesus walking beside the minister who was giving the communion cup to each member of the congregation. After each person drank, Jesus touched the cup and all of the germs disappeared. We can take great comfort in envisioning this occurring during the distribution of the Lord’s Supper.
Moroni 5 describes the blessing of the sacramental wine in which the minister takes the cup and asks God to bless it and sanctify it such that all who drink of the cup will do so in remembrance of the blood of Christ, which was shed for them. The Church of Jesus Christ does it the same way today.
The procedure described by Moroni is based on what Jesus taught when He visited the Nephites in America. After the Nephites had finished drinking the wine from the cup that day, Jesus said to them:
“Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you.” (3 Nephi 18:10)
Are we able to drink of the cup of Jesus Christ? Let our lives illustrate that we are able!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.