“And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.” (Hebrews 13:22, AV)
One of the things that pilots must master in their training is how to land an airplane. I’ve never flown a plane, but can imagine that the most difficult part of the process would be the landing. I watched a television show on this and one of the things a pilot was doing was called touch-and-goes. Doing a touch-and-go, the pilot would make a landing as normal, but as soon as the wheels touched the runway, he would apply power and lift off again. Then he would circle back around and either land the plane or do another touch-and-go.
As a preacher, one of the things we have to work on is what I call, landing the plane. After a 30–40-minute sermon, we have to come to a place where we conclude the message. It is a distinct stopping point that takes the audience from the flight, so to speak, to the destination. Unfortunately, in many circumstances, preachers do not know how to land the plane. They often negotiate a series of touch-and-goes, and in doing so, tend to lose the impact of the sermon. Beyond the touch-and-goes, often preachers can have a rough landing or fail to land the plane at all. These also will negatively impact the effectiveness of the sermon.
I cannot be too judgmental on this as I, no doubt, have been guilty of the same problem on more than one occasion. Yet, I understand the problem because very early in my Christian life, I sat under preachers, which at times could not land the plane.
One of the key parts of landing the sermon is a concise challenge to action. I was discussing preaching with an evangelist one time, and he was talking about great content, and then stated, “So what?” In other words, with all the 30 minutes of talking, what is the listener supposed to do with the content. When the challenge is left out, the listener will ask the question, “So what?”
In this section of Scripture, the author of Hebrews is now landing the plane. He has just written a masterful letter which laid out the purpose of the Mosaic law in the Old Covenant, and the doctrine of salvation by grace under the New Covenant. He is now giving this one final word of challenge. He is landing the plane. He stated, “suffer the word of exhortation.” In other words, act upon the words written in the letter. Make a decision. Firmly establish your faith by trusting in Jesus Christ alone as Messiah, your Lord and Savior.
At times, we who sit under a pastor’s preaching, when we hear the words, “Now in conclusion,” often shut down our attentiveness. We stop paying attention. We fall asleep during the landing and wake up at the gate. Thus, we can miss the most important part of the message, the challenge. The challenge is there for a purpose for the word of God demands a response. When you hear the words, “Now in conclusion,” pay special attention, listen and pray that you will respond to the challenge given. That is the entire purpose of the word of God and its preaching. It is designed to cause us to be transformed. Stay alert as the preacher lands the plane and hearken to the challenge.