Potter and the Clay

Second of a six-week preaching series on Jeremiah.

Jeremiah, image by Holly Hayes via Flickr; licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

June 6, 2021

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Commentary on Jeremiah 18:1-11

• 5/30/2021: Jeremiah 1:1-10; 7:1-11 Call and Temple Sermon
6/6/2021: Jeremiah 18:1-11 Potter and the Clay
• 6/13/2021: Jeremiah 36:1-8, 21-23, 27-31 Scroll Burned and Rewritten
• 6/20/2021: Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14 Letter to the Exiles
• 6/27/2021: Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 Planting and Building
• 7/4/2021: Jeremiah 33:14-18; 31:31-34 Messiah and New Covenant

Week 2: Potter and the Clay

Jeremiah 18:1-11

In addition to receiving words from God, Jeremiah perceives divine messages in actions and events. In this scene at the potter’s house, Jeremiah observes the painstaking process of pottery making (18:4). The potter revises and reworks the clay quite frequently before settling on a finished product. The observation of the potter, here a symbol (18:1-4) points to the possibility of starting over again when things go wrong. However, the conclusion of the interpretation of the sign (18:11) suggests impending destruction rather than creation. Jeremiah hears a word that interprets the potter’s work as an act of dominance over the clay and yet at the same time it appears that the clay has a will of its own (18:6). The clay is not always responsive to the potter’s molding and in fact, frustrates potter’s forcing constant revisions. In this passage, we don’t see the potter lashing out in frustration by smashing his work. However, in the next chapter Jeremiah smashes pottery as a marker of divine judgement (19:10). Threats of destruction appear in Jeremiah’s words in this chapter. This passage expresses divine anger and frustration about the inability to control everything, particularly human behavior.

Where are the spaces for voicing frustrations relating to the loss caused by the pandemic?