THE POTTER AND THE CHALICE
William F. Holland Jr. Published10/28/18
There was once a potter who was very skilled and talented. He was a kind and thoughtful older gentleman who enjoyed creating unique pieces of pottery on his wheel and sincerely loved each one he made. One day he placed a clump of clay on the wheel and was very excited as he had a special vision for this particular vessel. He was going to make a beautiful chalice and hoped that one day it would serve and bring honor to the king. He worked very hard on it and made sure everything just was just the way he had imagined and finally after adding some highly intricate details it was ready to be removed from the wheel and on to the other phases of development. He allowed it to dry and then coated it with a stunning glaze and then on to the fiery furnace where it would be sealed and become usable. When everything was finished, he placed the stunning chalice in a huge wood and glass cabinet along with the many other pieces he had made. There were plates, pitchers, bowls, cups, and vases and a unique variety of usable containers used to store, pour and serve. Most of the other pottery seemed to be at peace with who they were but there was a serious problem with the chalice. Not that anything was flawed or wrong with how it was made externally but after a period of time, the chalice had changed his opinions about life and was now bitter and frustrated on the inside. Instead of being happy and grateful, the chalice had now become a rebel with a negative and rebellious attitude.
As the days passed, the chalice continued to grow stronger in his defiant views and began to express that he did not want to be some fancy drinking container and as a matter of fact, he resented the idea of being forced to serve anyone, especially a king that he did not know or care about. He was not shy about his opinions and began to openly criticize and complain to all the other pottery pieces. He said he had come to a conclusion that he did not believe he was actually created by the potter but had been deceived and now was convinced he came from another unknown origin and had been designed by some mysterious type of chance and fate. He went on to explain that every piece of pottery should wake up from their fantasy and stand up for their independence and not be controlled by a fairy tale. He said the world was filled with those who want to take advantage of others and who tell lies in order to give the weak ones a false security about the true purpose and meaning of life. One of the plates spoke up and asked, “what is the true meaning and purpose of life?” and the chalice calmly said, “It is to live according to your own feelings and to say and do whatever you want without anyone interfering.” Of course, many pieces of the pottery family were very concerned and upset to hear the chalice talk this way but they also realized that because of free will, each individual vessel has the choice to believe and live however they choose.
One day, news traveled to the area that the king was coming and would be passing through their village in a few days. The old potter was happy and enthused as he remembered that he had made the lovely chalice for just this type of celebration. He removed the chalice from the cabinet and was preparing to take it where the glorious luncheon was going to be served for the king. Suddenly, with boldness and arrogance, the chalice spoke up and said, “Pardon me, but I refuse to serve the king and have no intention of representing or assisting you or the king. I have no respect or allegiance toward you and will have nothing to do with your plans.” The potter was calm as he stared out the window and in a patient and merciful tone replied that he realized the chalice was free to decide its own destiny but continued several more times asking if he would reconsider. However, after pleading with the vessel for a considerable amount of time and reminding the chalice of being so beautiful and what a wonderful opportunity this would be to humbly serve, the potter sadly placed the chalice in a box with several other disgruntled containers. These particular pieces were going to be set out on the street for the trash or whoever wanted them. The wise potter paused and repeated once again as he had said many times before, “It is not necessarily one’s ability but rather their availability” and then walked over to the cabinet and selected an average looking cup who was not the most beautiful but was excited to serve as a willing vessel of honor.
A poor family stopped by shortly after the box was placed on the curb and they took the box home. The mother was happy as she removed a small water jug and a couple of medium sized bowls and when she turned away, her young son reached down in the bottom and pulled out the chalice. As he was looking at it, the mother was curious about why such an elegant vessel would have been discarded. The small boy begged if he could have it, as he had been using some sticks and old spoons to dig out in the yard and thought this would be an excellent toy to scoop dirt. His mother agreed that he could play with it and he ran out the door to put it to the test. He played all afternoon using it as a miniature shovel but when his friend down the road came over to see it, he accidentally dropped it and it broke in several pieces. The child took the pieces inside and asked if it could be fixed but his mother said it was now ruined and good for nothing. The boy and his friend ran to the edge of the river and as they were laughing and playing, they threw the pieces out into the water as far as they could and the chalice was no more.
You have just read a fictional story about a very serious and sobering subject. The symbolism of the Potter and the clay are known throughout the world and originate with the Bible declaring that God is the original Potter of every vessel that has ever been created. In each reference, we understand the meaning to clarify that God owns everything and is the only Creator of all creation. However, as we continue to look carefully, we notice that just because God has created every person, each human being has been given a “will” to choose and decide whether or not to serve the Potter or serve themselves. We are reminded in Isaiah chapter 45 that God is the Almighty Alpha and Omega and basically, we are a spirit that lives in a shell of clay. Unlike the natural world where a cup or bowl is an inanimate object that cannot think or act, The human clay body has a mind and a conscience to make their own decisions. This ability to exercise their own free will also means that every individual will NOT choose to obey and follow His voice. In the first part of verse nine, the holy scripture talks about those who quarrel, strive, and rebel against the very one who has made them. The writer clearly and sternly addresses those who would rebel against God’s authority and declares shame on those who shake their fists and treat the Lord with disrespect, hatred, and arrogance. “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, what are you making? Does your work say, the potter has no hands?”
First, we have a warning from God that is basically saying do not argue with the one who made you. The Lord of all creation does not make mistakes and it is nothing short of blasphemy for God to be questioned or to be subjected under the authority of anyone’s imagination. Next, we notice the writer refers to all people as a pile of broken pieces of dirt. This clearly lets all humans know that if not for the grace of God we would be nothing but worm food. It is only by God’s great love and mercy that He breathed into us and gave us an earthly life along with the possibility of an eternal existence. Are we obligated to worship our Creator and dedicate our lives to Him? Yes! Who else do you believe is more worthy to love and serve? Then in the last part of the verse, we read where the clay is wanting to know why they are being made that way. They are questioning God’s decisions as if to imply the Potter does not know what He is doing or the power nor skill to control what He made. The clay is saying, “I can make myself and I can do what I want!” We can clearly see that with the clay desiring to live independently, they are demanding to live as wickedly and as foolishly as when the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah. Look at the world who believes they have no need of a Savior and are still crying out, “Give us Barabbas.” They proclaim they have no need of God’s righteousness or justification, no need to repent or be redeemed or sanctified. No need to be delivered from the destruction of sin and deception of their self-sufficiency to work out their own salvation.
Next, we turn to a New Testament passage found in Romans 9:20-21. “But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, why did you make me like this? Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? We start out with a similar presentation about staying humble toward God and bowing down before Him in everything, but verse 21 brings a deeper perspective to the subject by declaring that the Potter designates some of His pieces to accomplish special missions. This is a reference to predestination which many people do not believe but the scripture is trying to establish a fact that God truly does select certain people to achieve specific goals. I have always believed that God draws our blueprints before we are born and has high expectations that we will follow His plans. Since He is the designer and knows what He wants to do, it only makes sense that everyone would have a designated calling to fulfill. Whether small or great in the eyes of man, all obedience unto the Lord is very important to God and will be rewarded according to His perfect wisdom.
Every human being has been made on God’s wheel and are a unique vessel that has the amazing privilege and opportunity to be used for His service and glory. As Adam was from the clay, all of the human race is also from the clay, we are dirt from the ground that has graciously been given an eternal spirit and the breath of life for the purpose of bringing honor to the one who made them. Rebellion comes from an evil spirit of arrogance and is the opposite attitude from what we are called to experience and demonstrate. The world is growing more wicked as the atheists and agnostics are multiplying against God and His holy Word. The darkness of sin is a plague that is infecting the masses but the darkness will never be able to extinguish the light of God’s love. The hatred for Jesus originates from the hatred of oneself as the human conscience realizes deep within the soul that sin is offensive to God and will always be the wages of death. The unbeliever is running away from God and trying to hide behind anything they can find in order to avoid the conviction and condemnation of being wrong and deceived. Each person also has been given a spirit that will live forever as the mortal body will eventually return back to the earth and if the individual refuses to accept Christ in this life, they will continue living in darkness and misery in the next life.
We are to be humble and grateful for the chance to live for our maker and to enjoy the opportunity to praise, serve, and worship the creator that loves us more than anything. As the story revealed, how could a beautiful chalice say to the potter, “You did not make me and I will not serve you?” What is the Great Potter to do with someone who refuses to believe and be used? What is the future for a person that defiantly refuses to cooperate? This life is a privilege to yield and surrender our will to the one who made us and who gave the ultimate ransom, His Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross to redeem and save us from our sin. If any vessel willingly chooses to reject the Potter’s plans and instead decides to live a life of independence directed by their own feelings and ideas, there will be no choice in the judgment but for all of these vessels of dishonor to face the dreadful consequences of an unpleasant eternity far away from the light, joy, and peace of God’s presence. At the end of the age there will only be two types of vessels; one of honor that willingly surrenders their life unto God and who will live with Him in eternity, and those of dishonor who refuse to submit to God’s authority and thus will be broken and cast away forever. Hell is as real of a place as heaven as is being reserved for all those who are not spiritually born-again and redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ. We close with this reference from Isaiah 64:6-8, “All of us have become like one who is unclean and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf and like the wind, our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins. Yet you, Lord, are our Father; we are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” May the Lord of endless mercy and compassion continue to give us His revelation of wisdom and truth.