But now, O Lord…we are the clay, and thou, our potter…”- Isa. 64:8
This past Sunday, our pastor played a short video of a potter forming a lump of clay into a beautiful piece of pottery. I’ve seen something like this before, but I told my husband later, I never noticed before how dirty the hands of the potter became in this whole process. The finished product is smooth and clean, but you or I would be hesitant to touch the hand of the potter at the wheel.
God has chosen to refer to Himself as a potter and those of us who are heirs of salvation, as clay. If one of the results of working with clay is dirty hands, it must be said of our heavenly Potter, as well. Of course, you and I know that God, high and holy inhabitant of eternity past and future, could never be associated with such an adjective: dirty. However, He could allow Himself to take the form of man and mingle with sinful flesh, all the while retaining His sinless deity. Would He do it? Yes, He would and He did!
Jesus Christ, God in sinless flesh, deigned to touch dirty, sinful flesh: He touched the lepers and made them clean (Matt. 8:3); He touched blinded eyes and made them see (Matt. 20:34); He touched and cooled fevered brows (Matt. 8:14-15); He touched deaf mutes and restored their hearing and speech (Mark 7:32-33); in John thirteen, He stooped to wash dirty feet; and on one occasion, He took His finger and wrote in the dirt to give assurance of forgiveness to a fallen woman. On these occasions and many, many others, the God of Heaven (in the Person of Jesus Christ) dirtied His hands to change human clay into trophies of grace.
The longer I’m saved, and the more I learn about Him, the less I think of myself. When I realize His blinding holiness coupled with His absolute humility, and then see my own sinful pride, I marvel at the magnanimous, undeserved grace of God that permeates my very existence. That He would be willing to get His hands dirty in order to make me clean and fit to live in His presence is more than I can comprehend. I am forced to say with the hymn writer:
And did the Holy and the Just,
The Sovereign of the skies,
Stoop down to wretchedness and dust,
That guilty worms might rise?
Yes; the Redeemer left His throne,
His radiant throne on high–
Surprising mercy! Love unknown!–
To suffer, bleed and die.
What glad return can I impart,
For favors so divine?
O take my all, this worthless heart,
And make it only Thine.
–Anne Steele (1717-1778)