2 Cor 4:7-12 - Treasure in jars of clay
The year before Maz and I moved to GWAC, we made our fist trip together to visit her family in Sicily. It was a special trip for so many reasons and there were numerous new experiences we shared together. One significant experience was visiting an archeological site called Morgantina, an ancient city now in ruins but dating back to 900 BC although most dominant in the excavations are ruins from Greek civilisations of 450BC. Maz's family are very involved in the excavation work and enactment of various festivals of the ancient era so they were able to take us on a special tour across parts of the dig. At one point I found at my feet two tiny pieces of terracotta jars, each of differing thickness and from different civilisations. Looking closely at them, one was was of a fine clay jar. Numerous quantities of these jars had been found since 1955 when the first dig took place. The jars were inexpensive, easily made and more easily broken; I held in my hand a broken piece of one of those jars of clay. As Paul writes to the Corinthian church, he reminds them of the treasure of the gospel of Jesus Christ and that this treasure is found in the care and possession of fragile jars made of clay.
Note the significance of the contrast in this image; the 'all surpassing power' which is from God (vs 7) completely overshadows the vessel that carries it. Paul makes four paradoxical statements; paradoxical because the first part of each would seem to indicate utter despair and disaster and yet the reality is that the power of God sustains the servants of God and results in lives lived with purpose and potential in the work of God. (vs 8-9). However in verse 10, Paul demonstrates the wonder of the gospel, for he declares that the follower of Jesus carries around in their 'earthen-ware' vessel, the reality of the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, demonstrated in the resurrection, might be revealed in their body. Unlike the pieces of broken jays that I found in Morgantina, the jays of clay that Paul speaks of, while, crushed and dropped are never destroyed. We are those jars of clay and regardless of the apparent mistreatment that at times is the life of a disciple of Jesus, we continue to hold in our bodies, the life of Jesus, with all his splendour, grace and hope of the promised ultimate transformation, that is, the resurrection and eternal life. As you live this life of a disciple, what are you thankful for today, and what might God be calling you into? Are you in the midst of feeling perplexed or hard pressed because of your faith in Jesus? If so, how might you avail yourself of his strength and power as you live for him today?