In the sacrament we experience, as the hymn would have it, “communion sweet.” Why does that communion require bread and water, or analogs to them?
Perhaps the bread and water represent the complete spiritual sustenance that Christ offers us, he being both food and drink to our souls. That sounds right to me, and I reckon that our Christian brethren have elaborated this and other explanations over their 2000-year history. I’d be interested to track those explanations down some time.
In the most basic symbolism of the sacrament, the bread is Jesus’ flesh, the water is his blood, and by eating his flesh and drinking his blood we are merging ourselves with him. When we take both the bread and the water we are taking part in both Christ’s divine and immortal being and in his human and mortal being.
So far, so good, but why is it necessary to participate in Christ’s mortality and immortality? I asked that question before but didn’t have an answer. Now I might.
We get baptized to have a remission of our sins. To drown, in other words, our sinfulness in Christ’s infinite sinlessness. But our burdens being relieved, we covenant to take other people’s burdens. The sacrament is like that. Representing as it does baptism and indeed all the other ordinances, the sacrament must not only relieve us of our sins and imperfections, but make it possible for us to suffer for other’s sake like Christ does. The bread heals us and exalts us by making us one with the spotless Man who puts all things under his feet. The water makes us one with the suffering Man who descends beneath all things.
A Mormon can with perfect consistency shout alleluia all the day long and also “view his death, and suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world.”