Have you ever heard someone say after the preacher finished preaching, “Wow! He landed the plane today”?

What did they mean?

While there’s a slight possibility that the preacher is also a pilot and was preaching over the intercom while safely landing an actual plane, it is more likely the person making such a statement is complementing the preacher on the fact that he delivered the message in such a way that made it easy to understand and apply.

For many, the application portion of a sermon/lesson is the most difficult and often left-out aspect of sermon/lesson preparation. It’s not difficult in the sense that making an application is technically more challenging than parsing Greek words or spending the time flipping through the pages of a particular book to see how the apostle Paul used a different word in chapter 2 for “love” than he did in chapter 6. Instead, it isn’t easy how the application stretches us and often moves us out of our comfort zones. We may sometimes spend very little time preparing for the application because we assume the application will be prominent and easily grasped. Don’t assume.

Never leave the plane circling the runway.

Could you imagine the Bible without any of the “Therefore” passages? You know, those passages such as:

  • Matthew 9:38Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

  • Romans 14:13Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.”

  • 1 Corinthians 8:13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.”

  • Galatians 5:1“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

  • 1 Peter 1:13Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Have you ever stopped to consider why these passages and others like them are in the Bible?

Simply put, it’s because the Holy Spirit inspired the writers to “land the plane.” For instance, before Matthew 9:38, we read in verses 36-37,

“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ”The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”

The response of compassion on the part of Jesus and the observation of the great need for workers in the kingdom leads to what He says in verse 38. Thus, the response to the great absence of workers in the kingdom to gather the harvest is the point of verse 38, pray to God that He sends more workers. As we turn to chapter 10, we read of Jesus sending out (v. 5) the twelve disciples to work in the kingdom to gather the harvest found within the house of Israel (v. 6). The “Therefore” passage of Matthew 9:38 is the verse that shows the primary application.

The same occurs when considering the “Therefore” passage in 1 Corinthians 8:13,

“Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.”

Before Paul ever writes this, he explains the problem amongst the Christians in Corinth of eating meat sacrificed to idols. Some disciples were still struggling with their pagan past, where eating the meat was tied to something significant in idol worship. While those Christians abstained from eating the meat, others ate it with no problem. Not only were they eating the meat, but they were also trying to influence the non-meat-eating Christians to do so. After explaining that we all know there is only one God and that eating the meat is of no significance, he writes verse 13, which “lands the plane” on the matter.

That’s what you and I must make sure to do when preaching and teaching. Go out of your way to highlight the central application. You may have multiple points in your sermon. Make sure all your supporting points direct the listener to one primary application. Doing so will help drive home the lesson and help the study you’ve engaged in stick in the listeners’ minds for a more extended period. Whether or not they leave saying, “Wow! He landed the plane today,” or not, is insignificant. However, when they leave and have a clear understanding of how to apply the lesson, and they do apply the study, that will be your “Wow!” moment.

Joe Wells
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Joe Wells holds an earned B.S. degree in Science along with a completion certificate from the Nashville School of Preaching and Biblical Studies and a Masters of Ministry degree from Freed Hardeman University. Joe travels the country as a frequent speaker for youth and family events, men’s days, as well as gospel meetings. He is the co-founder of Kaio Publications, publishers of the Family Devotional series as well as the Finer Grounds Bible Study series for women. Joe is also the author of the book Complete: Becoming the Man God Purposes You to Be and Game Plan: Developing a Spiritually Winning Strategy for Adults and Teens in Today’s Culture. Along with this, he and Erin are the co-host of The Hey Joe Show, a podcast designed to challenge and strengthen families and teens across America. Joe has served God in a public way since 2000 in the capacity of youth minister and gospel preacher, helping people make the connection with the Word of God and encouraging them to be transformed for Christ. He is blessed to the husband to the former Erin O’Hara, and they are the proud parents of four beautiful children: Colton, Michala, Camden, and Bennett.