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Last Times

Although this article is titled, ‘Last Times’ it is not about the end of the world, and so on.

I have wanted to write this article for some time, but, I was spurred into action now by an evening call a few days ago to tell me that my older sister had suffered a stroke and was in ICU. Just that morning, I had felt prompted to phone her to hear how she was doing, but I got busy with something else and didn’t get around to it. Thankfully, she is now recovering well, and I spoke to her and it seems she will soon regain her strength and mobility.

When I spoke to her I said something that I haven’t said to her in all 75 years of my life; I said “I want you to know that I love you and that you are very special to me.”

I grew up in an age when family and society taught us that emotions were to be experienced but seldom articulated. So, speaking this out aloud to someone other than my wife, children or granddaughters, is still a bit strange for me. Things could have turned out very differently and I might have missed an important ‘Last Time’ with my sister.

Times I Have Missed it


Sometimes we have a sense that we may not see something again, visit a place again, or spend time with a person again.

At times when I preach to a congregation that I have not previously addressed and who are outside of my usual circle, I ask the following question of myself: “If this is the only time you preach here, then what is the most important thing you need to say to them now?” This was easy to ask, answer, and do because it wasn’t ‘in the moment’ and I had plenty of time to prepare. Some of my more spontaneous Last Times have not been at all like that.

My parents lived in the Cape while my family and I lived in Gauteng. I remember the time I saw my mother for the last time. I knew that she did not have long to live in this world and that I probably would not see her again. Yet I did not know what to say to her. So, I said things that I thought were encouraging and light, but I wished later that I had spoken from the heart and thanked her for all she meant to me and had done for me… but I didn’t, and instead missed a significant ‘Last Time’ moment.

I spent over three decades trying to build and support a local church. However, when I walked out of its campus for the last time I again missed a ‘Last Time’.

I was overcome by the suppressed negative emotions that stung my eyes and I just walked swiftly to my car and drove away.

It would have been far better for me if I had taken a few minutes to quietly stand still and respond to this Last Time.  To perhaps thank God for the experiences of being part of the church, for the many wonderful people I had met and learned to know, and for the privilege he had given me when he entrusted that community to me for so many years.

I have missed several other significant moments over my lifetime, and I know that if I had them over again I would want to do and speak differently. However, I cannot re-live what is passed, none of us can, but perhaps I can learn to respond differently in future. Can you think of occasions when you have missed or responded poorly to ‘Last Times’?

How Not to Miss it


How can we avoid missing these important moments? Well, the Lord Jesus is our model in all things and so it would be good to reference perhaps his most poignant Last Time. It is quite a long account, but worth reproducing it here.

John 13:2-35

The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.  Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”  For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.  “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.’  “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.” His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

This was the last meal that Jesus shared with his disciples before his crucifixion. Indeed, it was the last time he celebrated the Passover meal with them. He was fully aware that this was a most important Last Time and he made the very most of it. He demonstrated the time-enduring Christian principle of servant-leadership and instructed them to do for each other as he had done for them. And then, with this as the backdrop, he pronounced the ‘New Commandment’ that was to define Christianity for all time:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


What then can we learn from Jesus’ example? At least the following:


  1. Strive to be aware when we are experiencing a Last Time, despite confusion or strong emotion.
  2. Take some time to pause and ponder. Don’t be like me, a person who habitually gallops past the present to get to the future as quickly as possible.
  3. Do and say what is of greatest importance to you at that moment and what is most necessary to be heard and received. Not what we think we ought, but what we know intuitively to be right. The proviso is, of course, not to allow negative or destructive emotions to influence what we do or say in that moment.
  4. What we say to others in these Last Times sometimes stays with them and affects them considerably. The disciples must have often recounted to each other what Jesus said to them the last time they celebrated Passover with him.
We will all have one final Last Time on this planet when we will not want our minds to be full of regrets. And what are regrets other than Last Times that we have allowed to slip by unvalued or responded to negatively?


“In life, there are countless firsts and even more lasts. The firsts are easy to recognize; when you’ve never experienced something before – a kiss, a new style of music, a place, a drink, a food – you know exactly when you are encountering it for the first time. But lasts? Lasts nearly always surprise us. It’s only after they’ve disappeared that we realize we’ll never again have that particular moment or person or experience.”

― Frances de Pontes Peebles

Picture of Christopher Peppler

Christopher Peppler



7 thoughts on “Last Times”

  1. Hi Chris
    What a beautiful message for me.
    Thank you for your 30 years of dedication to the Spirit Filled Lonehill Village church where I asked Jesus into my life and got Baptised.

    My relationship with Jesus has grown from the excellent foundation I had under your and Carlos leadership.
    I am leading a Small Group in my house and attend the Olive Tree Church in Florida Road Durban.
    I also regularly attends weekly prayer meetings to bring the Lords plan to light in Durban. We definitely feel a rising of his Spirit.

    Thanks again for your faithfulness and all I learnt from you.

    John Macartan

  2. Thankyou Chris. We all need Gods wisdom and perception… to live with fewer regrets, and making the most of

  3. A wonderful word and TRUE. I’m 75 outwardly but 17 inside as my wise and wonderful grandmother used to say. Now I am her. Redeeming the time is always on my heart but not always on my mind. I’m praying for more mindfulness, more focus. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3. Amen AND Amen.

  4. Grant Thiselton

    Dear Chris,
    Your experience with your sister reminds me of my “last time” with my mother. She had ovarian cancer, which metastasised throughout her body. After nearly three years of living in agony, she was ready to let go. She eventually died in the early hours of a Sunday morning.

    Neither of my parents wanted a eulogy at their funeral, so I wrote one for my mother and gave it to her on the Friday before she died. As I gave it to her, my last words were, “I love you so much”, and then I left, knowing I might not see her again. I didn’t. Only weeks later, my father told me of the eulogy’s impact on my mother.

    Regarding point 2, like you, I am a person who “habitually gallops past the present to get to the future as quickly as possible”. Shortly before I became a father, I took time off work to attend a seminar titled “Stop and consider the wondrous works of God” (Taken from Job 37:14). I recently found the notebook I used to jot down some notes from the seminar. This is just one section that jumped out at me:

    The first stage is to ‘stop’. If I want to contemplate the wondrous works of God, I must stop. After stopping, I can then reflect on His works. This then results in reverence. In other words, reverence is the fruit of reflection, and reflection is the result of being still.

    Our society doesn’t encourage reflection. However, throughout history, the church has emphasised slowing down to listen. If a person desires to participate in true worship in a gathering of believers, that person must slow down to listen, meditate, and wonder.

    Jesus walked on earth constantly, having crowds or individuals seeking his attention. But he always set aside time to pause and pray, finding stillness away from all the noise. What makes me so special that I should be any different?

  5. Savanna Drower-Copley

    Your words are very poignant to me, Chris. Watching Sophie grow, I find the firsts and the lasts hurtle by so quickly.
    Thank you for this important reminder, and for pointing to the example that Jesus gave us.

  6. Dear Chris, thank you for your deep message which reminds me to ‘get matters right’ speak carefully and let God’s love grow in us.
    Thank you for being an obedient servant, we go back to Mahyeno Mission 1986+-. I have sat under you teaching occasionally through the years and still have that blessed opportunity through your present ministry. Thank you.

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.