Many times, the last impression of a thing is the most prevalent part of that thing that sticks, if you will, in our mind. The last song on the radio before you turn the vehicle off, how the story ends in a book, the last moments with a family member, friend or even a beloved pet, the last thing can sometimes be the first thing that comes to our remembrance when we recall those moments of time. The thirty-minute news programs have been aware of this for years, saving the most frivolous, uplifting story until the end of the broadcast, continual bad news does not bring in the advertising money, a form of hope must be given. The word rare does not fully encapsulate the beginning of these types of broadcast though when the happy event is the opening story, doom and gloom, sorrow and heartache will always grab the viewer, but too much of the truth of the continuing downward spiral of man and the rise of evil will compel them to turn away, and so hope must be put on the viewing screen, or despair may set in, viewers will leave along with the advertisers.
I have had many four-legged friends, in fact, many of my very best friends have been my pets, and I can recall in detail the death of most of them, it was of course, my last impression, my last memory of them. For many years, the last event of a thing will most generally be the first remembrance when the event is recalled, it takes time and the force of our will to bring to mind the pleasing parts of the person, book or thing, the friend with four legs. Without these other memories being recalled, a sense of perpetual sadness and despondency may set in, we will recall only our pain and suffering, and in many cases try to fill that void with items that are not beneficial for our continued growth. If you will not work through the last impression, whether it is reached in a negative or positive way, you will have very few further first impressions, you will stay trapped in the past, and there is no hope in the past my friends.
Everything that is will pass away, save for people and the word of God, anything else that you have invested your life in has served no eternal purpose. There are certain religious organizations that have kept Christ on the cross, as it were, recalling always, and for the most part, only His suffering, leaving Him there as a type of continual sacrifice. To allow their attending members to concentrate on the empty tomb would be to grant them a form of freedom from the continuing and never-ending personal sacrifice of works that must be accomplished to appease the one who is always on the cross, always suffering, never risen. The trappings of the past forbid us from moving into the future, and in this case moving forward in confidence of the assurance of our salvation, and growing in the knowledge of His mercy and grace. If the last impression is one of suffering, the viewers will either leave, become despondent, or return in hopes that the suffering will finally come to an end.
They laid palm leaves and their cloaks in His pathway, shouting “Hosanna,” hoping to see in an instant the kingdom of God appearing before their eyes, the Roman rule finally ended, and they saw instead a man tossing tables over and then leaving. (Matt. 21:12) Think of the despair of those who did not know the Scriptures, extreme expectations shattered, no kingdom, Romans still in charge over the country, same day, different events, then back to the normal grind. The epitome of the last impression for many, including these certain religious organizations that keep their members in bondage, is the day that our Lord hung on the cross. “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.” (Matt. 27:42) They watched, they waited, and in their eyes He just died, they took Him to a tomb, rolled the stone upon the opening, and that was it. Three and a half years of ministry and miracles for what, might as well head home. The pinnacle of the last impression for many, in fact for untold millions right up until today. “Great guy, awesome prophet, helped a lot of people, too bad it had to end so badly.”
The love of many is waxing cold today, there is a great falling away occurring, and it is because that is the last impression that many have of our risen Savior. But what is interesting, is that even for many who see Him standing outside the tomb, or being taken back in a cloud, (Acts 1:9) that is the last memory of Him, that is what they have determined to recall of our Lord, it is the last impression of Him in their minds, not what He did for them yesterday. They may love to hear the accounts, but they don’t want to tell others, they may dream of what heaven will be like, but they will not warn others of hell, they may listen to others speak of climate change, but they will not profess that the hand of God is moving across this planet, warning all who will listen.
Some call only church and the related events around it service the Lord, the last song stays in their head for a while, and then the cares of the world and the week ahead once again take precedence in their lives. They give the offering of sacrifice, one hour a week. In a sense my friends, what was our Lord’s last impression of the people of this planet? “When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) The answer is a resounding “Not much, only a remnant.” Religion has become the new faith, religion has filled the gap of the patient anticipation for our Lord’s return, and the world and all of its continual callings has drowned out the lives of many who have forgotten where their closet is so that they can be still, and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10)
The last impression for many is what happened five minutes ago, and the only first impression they seek is the one that will be fulfilling only to themselves. It has been too long in the minds of many, of those who call themselves by the name of Christ, and they have stopped looking for His return, the religious organization, their church and all of its trappings will suffice as a sacrifice, their lives are their own, and they will not lose them for anyone or anything, and their last impression of their lives will not be a happy one.
We must leave the trappings of the world behind, all of our past accomplishments for personal gain must be seen as dung, all of our hopes and dreams for the sake of self must be laid aside, and we must work patiently and with great anticipation for the Lord Jesus Christ in all that we do. All cares must be cast upon Him, our future is secure, it is this moment, right here, right now that matters. Your only last impression should be, did I fulfill the task that the Lord set before me today, was I profitable to Him today, all else will be nothing more than wood, hay and stubble. He is no longer on the cross or in the tomb, He sits at the right hand of the Father, and the mansion that He went to prepare for us (John 14:2) is almost complete. The last thought of a Christian’s mind my friends, should not be one of regret.