By Jon Wren
On July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams lay on his deathbed surrounded by family and friends in Massachusetts. Adams had spent his entire life in the service of liberty, freedom, and in working to build a new nation. But now, after a career of service and dedication, he knew his life was ending.
Adams had accomplished much in his 90 years. Yet, interestingly, Adams’s final words were simply, “Thomas Jefferson survives.” Apparently above all else, the thing that gave our nation’s second president the most satisfaction in his final moments was not reflecting on what had been done, but rather the hope that someone he trusted, his fellow patriot and founding father Thomas Jefferson, was still alive. Unbeknownst to Adams, however, just five hours earlier that same day, in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson had passed away.
The story of Adams’s final moments is helpful to us as we consider and contemplate the meaning of Communion. First, it reminds us that true satisfaction and contentment in life shouldn’t come from our own accomplishments and successes, but rather from a deeply held hope in the future. As Christ followers, we know hope comes from believing that someone we love and trust is still alive and at work. Second, it reminds us that no matter how honorable our intentions, to place hope and trust in anyone other than Jesus Christ is folly.
In Communion, we are invited to remember that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ provide us with eternal hope for the future. As the apostle wrote: “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17). And, so, we have this same eternal hope that our work, service, and suffering for him are not in vain—because we trust in him for today and for tomorrow.
Jon Wren is a pastor, speaker, and author who loves history and college football and once got a ticket for driving too slowly.