As you go

Published 3:00 pm Sunday, June 25, 2023

“These 12 Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: ‘Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do no enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

— Matthew 10:5-7 (NKJV)

For most of us, (this preacher included) we tend to be destination oriented. We go to the mountains on vacation, we go fishing in a distant lake, or we travel to some special historical site. WE have a particular destination in mind, and for the most part, we don’t like to have these plans disrupted.

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In our passage above, Jesus wreaks havoc with the micro planning of the time He has allotted for our use. Where we want to stick to the plan, Jesus says our plan is flawed. We don’t allow time for those chance encounters that are not by chance at all, but by divine appointment. It is in these appointed times that we can make a difference, not only in our own growth, but also in the lives of those whom the Holy Spirit brings before us. We preachers call deviations from our sermon notes “chasing rabbits” or “rabbit trails.” We condition ourselves to stick to the plan, and follow our notes. The Holy Spirit often overrides our attempts at preaching and sends us down a rabbit trail to make the point that He would have us share. Jesus was the Master of “As you go” interaction.

“He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria.” — John 4:3-4

John’s statement that Jesus needed to go through Samaria was not giving us a geographical fact. He tells us this to stress that Jesus had a greater reason, a greater need for His visit in Samaria. In reading John 4:4-42, we find that Jesus made this stop at Jacob’s well for much more than a drink of water. He orchestrated this time at the well in order to reach one Samaritan woman — a woman who was eager to understand His offer of living water, and a woman who would go tell others about this Jesus.

We have no way of knowing what might have become of the woman had Jesus not stopped. Or, what about Bartimaeus, or Zacchaeus, what of the countless souls who have had divine appointments because someone was an “as you go” witness? Slow down, chase rabbits, preach, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Rev. Bobby Thornhill is a retired pastor.