I asked a friend the other day a question I’ve been pondering about a word. I asked, “What’s the last thing you ate?”  He didn’t have to think about it. ‘Oatmeal,’ he said. And I said, “How do you know? Was oatmeal the ‘last’ thing you ate, or the most recent thing you ate?” His eyes looked up, as if he were pondering what he’d just been asked. And then he said, “Oh. That’s a really good thing to think about. How do I know if oatmeal is my last meal?” His feelings about my question are what I’ve been wondering about, lately. Whether we know it or not, all of life is filled with a lot of different kinds of ‘lasts.’

Sometimes, when we use the word ‘last,’ we’re pointing out some kind of specified length of time. We say things like, “That song seemed to last forever.” Or we ask about someone who is in poor health, and wonder, “how long they will last?”  We’ve all done things in our lives as a ‘last resort,’ because it was our only hope — the only hope we thought we had left. There are many ways we use that word, ‘last.’ But perhaps the most profound and poignant way we can attach meaning to last is to think about that question about a meal I asked my friend.

Prisoners scheduled to be executed are served a final meal before their sentence is carried out, and often, news media make special note of their ‘last meal.’ But no last meal has more meaning and eternal consequence than the meal depicted in Leonardo di Vinci’s painting, ‘The Last Supper,’ and the scene with Jesus and his disciples.

Jesus’ week had already been filled with ‘last’ and lasting things, before that last supper. His entrance into Jerusalem on the back of that donkey was the last ride he’d ever take. And the sounds of jubilation and praise he heard from the adoring crowd? Those would be the last shouts of praise he would hear on this earth. In a few days, a different ‘last’ would echo through the streets: “Crucify Him,” they would scream. Famous last words of the crowd.

One last week of teaching, before he would celebrate one last Passover with his disciples. One last demonstration of servanthood, as he washed their feet one last and only time. Yes, one last supper. And one last hymn, before they walked into the cool of one last night. Betrayed by one last kiss from a friend. And then denials; once, twice, three times before a rooster crowd. Lashing on his bare back, until one last blow was stuck. And then, the soldiers decided they’d had enough fun. “Let’s take a walk, now” they said. One last walk up that solitary hill. One nail. Then another and another until, finally, one last nail in his hands.

How long could he last? Long enough to say, ‘It is Finished.” One last and final word. Taken down from that cross and placed in that cold, dark tomb. That was the last of it, except … When they rolled that stone over his tomb, that wasn’t the last time that stone would be moved.

They thought, ‘That’s the last we’ll hear of him.”

But they didn’t understand the meaning of that word, ‘last.’

I am the Alpha, the Omega, the beginning and the end,

The First, and … the Last.

2 thoughts on “Last

    1. You are very kind to say such a thing. I just write what comes into my head, and leave the results with Jesus. To God be the glory. Kj

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