Text: 2 Corinthians 4:5-12

Sunday June 2, 2024 – Pentecost 2

Trinity Lutheran Church – Creston/Mount Ayr.


       Grace, mercy, and peace is yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!


       Our text for the Second Sunday in Pentecost is the Epistle lesson from 2 Corinthians 4 that was just proclaimed.


Let Us Pray:  Dearest Jesus, you send your Holy Spirit to remind us that we, your creation, are claimed by you in baptism and equipped to serve others with your saving Word as we bare the crosses and trials in life.  Amen.


Dear Fellow Redeemed in Christ:


We’ve all heard people proclaiming a prosperity Gospel:


If you are a child of God, everything will be great. Life will be easy. You’ll be prosperous, healthy, wealthy, and happy. And, of course, if those things aren’t happening for you, there must be something wrong with you.


We recognize that theology of glory in others, but deep down, we all can feel that way. When things are tough, we ask, “Why me?” “Where is God?” Yet when we’re blessed, we don’t ask, “Why me?” but we may be tempted to say, “Look at me! Look what I did!”


That’s why challenges can so easily create a crisis of faith. Our perspective is coming from our own desires and not from God’s teaching.


But the Christian life often is not so easy. Jesus tells us that those who follow him will face challenges in the world—that we need to take up our cross daily and follow him. But Jesus also tells us how we will be able to endure and that we will be blessed.


Paul calls life in this world, with all its crosses and suffering, “jars of clay.” But he knows that the blessing Christ promises will follow. He teaches us that

Though We Are like Jars of Clay,
God Fills Us with His Glory in Christ.




I. We live under the cross as jars of clay.


A.  Even in the early church, people struggled with this idea of suffering as Christians. Consider Paul.


1.  He endured hardship—arrested, beaten, imprisoned, run out of town. He suffered for the faith, yet endured.

2.  Some critics tried to use these sufferings of Paul to discount his ministry. If he were really an apostle, they argued, these things wouldn’t be happening. They must be God’s judgment.


B. We can understand that argument, but it is wrong. Paul addresses it.


1.  Consider some of the things he notes in this passage: he says we are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, and even given over to death.


2.  Paul calls himself a jar of clay—a simple, earthenware vessel. Nothing remarkable in itself, but still something with a purpose. What matters is not himself but who fills him.


3.  That’s why he isn’t proclaiming Paul, but Christ Jesus.


C. Paul addresses his own situation, but he’s talking about all of us.


1.  Paul uses “we” in this passage, plural. We all may be afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, and given over to death. We all are jars of clay.


2.  This is the human condition, a result of sin.  (not payment for sin. Our sin was paid for on the cross.) The human condition experiences illness, natural disaster, persecution, starving, suffering..etc… Just look at the disaster to the north in Greenfield.


  II. But Christ takes on our clay.


A.  It is not all about us. We don’t proclaim ourselves—we proclaim Jesus!


B. Why? Because he became one of us.


1.  As we are made of the dust of the earth—the clay—so he took on the clay of our bodies.


2.  As we fail to resist temptation, he overcomes temptation in our place.


3.  As we suffer afflictions, persecution, suffering, and death, he faced these things for us.

a. He faced all we do—and more—dying on a cross and buried in a tomb in the earth.

b. His vessel of clay was crushed for us.


C. But death could not contain the Son of God. He rose in victory.


1. This changes everything!


2. We were in darkness, but the light of Christ has shined in our darkness and given us life and the knowledge of the glory of God.

III. With that, Christ fills our jars and transforms us.


A.   We are simple clay jars, but he has filled us with his grace and blessing, making us precious beyond words.


We are cracked, humble vessels, but he has covered us with himself, and God now sees us as precious and beautiful both inside and out.


C. When we are filled with Christ and united with him in his death and resurrection, all things are transformed.


1. Yes, in this life, we may be afflicted. But by God’s power we will not be crushed. We will overcome!


a. We may be perplexed and struggle to understand at times, but we are not driven to despair. We have true hope in Jesus!


b. We may experience persecution, but we are never forsaken; we are filled with Christ!

c. We may be struck down, but we are not destroyed.


2. United with Christ, nothing in this life can overcome us.


3. We have this treasure in clay jars because the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.


C. In Christ, the future for clay jars is glorious!


 Clay cups serve a purpose and can be remade into something new.


On many city corners in India, vendors sell little cups of chai tea. In exchange for a few pennies, you are handed a small clay cup filled with scalding hot chai. Customers drink the chai and then, surprisingly, toss the clay cup to the street.


It had one purpose: to serve that single cup of chai. Now that it was finished, it is discarded.

Later, those cups are scooped up, cleaned, soaked in water, and then a potter makes them again into a new vessel, ready for use once more.


The apostle Paul says that we have a treasure—“the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of  Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6)—within us, but he calls us “jars of clay” (v 7).


We are clay jars, but we’re filled with Christ. He gives us value and transforms us into useful, beautiful things by his presence and by his life, death, and resurrection.


Though our bodies are but clay, fragile and passing, they have been washed in the water of Baptism. God, who is the potter (Jeremiah 18), will one day remake our bodies in the resurrection, raised in glory to live with the God who fills us now and for all eternity.



1. Unless our Lord returns first, the time will come when these clay jars will have served their purpose on earth. Our bodies will die and return to the earth. But even this is not the end.


2. God who called light into being, God who took the dust of the earth to make humanity with his hands and breathe life into us, will take our lifeless bodies and re-create them, raising them from the dead to a life that will never end.


3. We will recognize these bodies—but there will be differences. They will not be subject to sin or the consequences of sin. They will not know affliction or suffering or death.


 What is now a humble clay vessel will be re-created as a vessel of beauty and honor. Perfect. Holy. And just like now—filled with the presence and beauty of God. Amen.



Now may the peace of God which far surpasses our human understanding guide and keep us in the one true faith until life everlasting…Amen