Jars of Clay

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Have you ever had a moment when you felt totally powerless? Imagine you’re trying to open a stubborn jar lid. You’ve tried everything. Rubber gloves, tapping it on the edge of the counter, even running it under hot water. But it’s no use, it won’t budge. It’s a bit like life, isn’t it? We often find ourselves in situations we can’t control, facing problems we can’t solve. Feeling fragile, like a jar that can’t be opened.

Our lives can be like that Bulgarian pottery I came across on a trip to Sofia years ago. Delicate, handmade pieces of earthenware, each pot unique yet vulnerable. They reminded me of something the Apostle Paul wrote in one of his letters. He talked about us being ‘jars of clay’ (2 Corinthians 4:7). Now, I’m no potter, but I do know clay jars are fragile. They crack easily. They’re pretty ordinary. And yet, Paul says there’s something extraordinary about them.

In these jars of clay, we hold a ‘treasure’. What’s this treasure? It’s the knowledge of Jesus Christ. You might wonder how the story of a carpenter who lived 2000 years ago can be a treasure. Well, it’s like the story of John Hunter, the renowned 18th-century surgeon. Even though he lived centuries ago, the surgical techniques he developed save lives today. Similarly, the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection still holds power and gives hope.

But why would this extraordinary treasure be placed in such fragile containers? Here’s where it gets interesting. Paul suggests that this arrangement showcases God’s power in our weakness. Have you ever seen a light in a jar? The jar itself doesn’t shine, but the light within it does. When our jars are cracked and chipped, when life has left us feeling fragile, it’s in those cracks that God’s power shines through.

This is not some abstract theology; it’s the reality that many of us have experienced. Just like my mate, who battled cancer. Despite his weakness, he exuded a strength and hope that was clearly more than human. It was as if he was saying, “For this, I have Jesus.”

What’s the source of this hope and power? It’s the promise of resurrection. The story doesn’t end with Jesus’ death; it carries on to his resurrection. The hope of resurrection gives us strength to endure, knowing that our current troubles are temporary. They’re like a drop in the ocean compared to the eternity that awaits us.

So, how does all this affect you and me in our daily lives? Here’s the crux of the matter. If we believe that we carry this treasure in our fragile jars, if we believe in the power of God made perfect in our weakness, and the hope of resurrection, then we can face our trials with courage.

It’s like that phrase Charles Price, the Canadian preacher, often uses, “For this, I have Jesus.” Whether we’re battling illness, facing job loss, or dealing with a broken relationship, we can say, “For this, I have Jesus.”

And that’s the message I’m excited to share today. No matter how cracked or ordinary our jars might seem, we carry within us a treasure. A treasure that gives us hope, strength, and a future.

So, let’s take a moment to reflect on our own ‘jars of clay’. How has your jar been cracked? And in those cracks, can you see God’s power shining through? We may be jars of clay, but remember, even the smallest candle can light up a dark room. And when our jars are filled with the light of Christ, they shine for all to see.

So, keep shining, even when life gives you a tight jar lid. Remember, you’re holding a treasure. For this, we have Jesus.

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