I Have the Table Ready - Psalm 23, Matthew 26 - sermon notes
These notes focus on the fellowship and intimacy we may experience with God-at God's initiative.
- Even though the major Scripture reading is from the New Testament, the text for this sermon is a small statement in Psalm 23. Therefore it will be necessary at the beginning of the sermon to set the Psalm, in particular verse 5a, before the hearers to identify it as the focus of our attention.
- The dominant concept of the text is a table. God prepares the table. God prepares it for me. And it is set in the presence of my enemies. These are rich concepts to explore. Remember that David is speaking as a sheep, describing the care of the shepherd.
- Tables are usually rich, special places in people's lives. Relationships are built over tables. The family gathers at "its table" for dinner and for conversation. Tables seem to serve several purposes: nurture (food), relationships (conversation), and celebration (banquets). But do sheep have tables? Explore the concept of "tablelands"-those high meadows that provide the best grazing for sheep. Tablelands required preparation, for the shepherd often needed to remove poisonous plants and other predators.
- From here it would be helpful to invite the listeners to make some "table-visits" that illustrate the Lord's care for his own. God led Israel out Egypt and slavery and welcomed them to the Passover table. Jesus went to Bethany and met around a table with Mary, Martha, and other friends to celebrate the resurrection of Lazarus (John 12). Jesus met his disciples in the Upper Room around a table to mark the Passover, prepare them for his suffering and death, and reveal his betrayer (Matthew 26). After his resurrection Jesus met the disciples over breakfast on the shore of the Sea of Galilee to reveal himself and strengthen them for the days ahead (John 21). Even the parable of the returned Prodigal Son (Luke 15) culminates in a banquet celebration.
- Jesus is a table-preparing shepherd. Our anticipation of holy week and the sacrament of the Lord's Supper makes tangible and visible the table he has for us. It also sends our thoughts ahead to the marriage supper of the Lamb in the last day.