My Care Runs Over - Psalm 23, Matthew 9 (Palm/Passion Sunday) - sermon notes

This sermon explores how God's care for us is so generous that it runs over us like the abundance of anointing oil runs over the head and down on the shoulders of the one being anointed.

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  1. Familiarity with a passage sometimes keeps us from asking probing questions and digging deeper into the meaning and significance of each phrase. Yet there is great benefit to digging deeper into each phrase of a passage as familiar as Psalm 23. The same is true with the verse for today.
  2. The first idea in the text for today is that of "anointing." Though we don't use the word much today, it was common in the Bible, and there were four ways in which it was used. It was used to indicate a calling to some office (1 Samuel 16:12-13); or an expression of adoration and worship (Luke 7:37-38); or the filling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:37-38); or to massage with oil for physical comfort (see James 5:14). If we take that idea out to the pasture, many of those pictures can be combined as we see the shepherd rubbing the sheep with oil to keep pests away, relieve stress, and promote healing.
  3. When David shifts to the cup that is running over he has another picture in his mind. Sheep do not do well without water. They can survive on dew from the grass for a short while, but sooner or later they need the shepherd's bucket to go deeply within the well and pour fresh cool water into the stone bowls ("cups") again. Remember also that in Middle Eastern custom keeping a full cup in front of guests was a warm expression of welcome and hospitality. The shepherd's overflowing care is obvious in these pictures.
  4. Matthew 9 is another picture of the same. Jesus was in the middle of people with all kinds of needs. He saw them, he saw their needs; he refused to turn away, and was instead moved with compassion. All the sheep of the good shepherd can find comfort in expecting to receive the same kind of care from him.

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