The Smashed Jar
“As these men watch you, Jeremiah, smash the jar you brought.”
I've witnessed dozens of children's sermons. In fact, I’ve probably given a few dozen as well. Along the way, I've learned that just about every successful children’s sermon involves some sort of prop. It could be a camping tent, a potted plant, a disco ball, or an oversized flashlight. (Yes, I've used all of these.) No matter the object, it can help to make a strong, unforgettable point.
Jeremiah used a jar in one of his sermons, but his message was not intended for children. Rather, the Lord instructed the prophet to purchase a clay jar and then to assemble the leaders of Judah (19:1). They gathered outside the gates of Jerusalem, in the city’s garbage dump (19:2). There, Jeremiah smashed the jar before them (19:21), uttering the Lord's message of judgment: "As this jar lies shattered, so I will shatter the people of Judah and Jerusalem beyond all hope of repair" (19:11).
The image of the smashed jar powerfully conveys God's judgment upon the sin of his people. It also foreshadows another "smashing" that occurred outside the gates of Jerusalem. This time, however, it was not a clay jar that was broken, but rather the body of Jesus, the divine Son and Savior. His brokenness did not only signify God's judgment, however. It was God's judgment of human sin.
But it was also God saving us from sin. In the broken body of Jesus, we are made whole. In the shattering of this "clay jar," we are restored. Thus, the crucified body of Jesus is much more than a prop. It is the demonstration of God's grace, the ultimate act of his love.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When you envision the death of Jesus, what images come to mind? How have you experienced the power of God to mend your brokenness? In what ways do you still need to be made whole?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, today I thank you for being a "smashed jar." In the breaking of your body, I am made whole. In the tearing of your flesh, I am healed.
How grateful I am, Lord, that your work of salvation was so public and visual. You didn’t die off in a corner, but in a place where you could be seen. Thus we have been given a powerful image that reminds us of the greatness of your sacrifice and the greatness of your love for us.
All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, our “smashed jar.” Amen.