The Broken Jar  

December 5, 2017

If you were in the service on Sunday, you got to witness the moment God took my jar illustration in a different direction. It could have broken at any point. It could have broken when I was cramming all those things into it that represent the substance and filth we try to fill up our empty lives with – the exercise weight, the computer mouse, the cell phone, the food, the money, the pill bottle, the dirt. It could have broken when I poured the water in, or more likely, when I closed the lid and shook it up with all those things inside. But it didn’t. The jar shattered when I was trying to get all those things out. As I was wrestling the weight out of the opening past the phone, I looked down and saw glass everywhere.

Among the miracles of that moment (besides not slicing my hand open) was the remarkable way that the jar broke. It kept its shape - still recognizable as a jar with the top and bottom fully intact. But one of the four sides was shattered with a large hole right in the middle. Without exaggerating, that may have been one of the most profound ministry moments of my life.

Friends, that jar is me. And it’s you.

Had it gone the way I planned, the jar would have stayed the same way it started - whole. I would have just dumped the stuff out, cleaned it up, and filled it with fresh pure water the way I intended. But the shattering happened. And the shattering is a more accurate reality. Oh how desperately we want God to leave us intact. We want the relative comfort of just dumping out the stuff and getting to remain the way we were. But it doesn’t work that way. It isn’t fitting the junk in that’s hard, or carrying it around; it’s getting it out. And sometimes, maybe all the time, it takes shattering the jar to really get it emptied all the way.

In fact, what we most need to be rid of isn’t just the stuff inside. It’s the flawed jar. It’s us. If we’ve learned anything from our study of the Beatitudes, it’s that we won’t really grasp the kingdom Jesus declares until we have nothing else left – including ourselves. Once that jar broke, it became worthless, useless. It had no value. Bingo. That’s the jar Jesus wanted me to show you. It’s the life Jesus wants us to follow him with. When the jar breaks, so does the illusion that we have some value, some worth of our own. We’re left with pieces. But Jesus isn’t looking for intact jars at all:

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)

And the apostle Paul, seeing the true value in losing our lives to gain life in Christ says:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

And again:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Dear friends, we’re missing the point when we try to keep our jar intact as we come to Jesus to be cleaned out and filled up. God’s Word resounds with assurance that in brokenness we find favor, grace, and blessing. Are you clinging to something, something stuck in your jar that you don’t want to face the pain of shattering to get it out? Are you trying to preserve the pieces of your old life and hold it together? Is pride, fear, or unbelief misleading you into trying to stay whole instead of being broken down to be emptied out and receiving fullness of life in the One who binds up the brokenhearted? He has so much more to give us – his life is worth more than keeping ours intact. Getting rid of the junk is messy. It’s painful. And life as we know it may shatter in the process. But the glorious truth of redemption and restoration in Christ carries with it the true fulfillment of every deepest longing we’ve ever felt – even the one that makes us fear losing our jar as we know it. 

I’m excited to see what else awaits us in this study of the Sermon on the Mount together. May our Lord continue to break jars in the process as he shows us the blessing and glory of the life he’s called us to live, that we might boast in our weakness as he makes us strong.

 

     

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