“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV)
This is a follow-up to Sunday’s sermon where we looked at the “immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Eph. 1:19). Presently at work in us is God’s resurrection power “that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead” (Eph. 1:20).
God’s “immeasurable” power in Eph.1:19 is the same as God’s “surpassing” power in 2 Cor. 4:7. “Immeasurable” and “surpassing” are from the same Greek word which means to exceed in magnitude. It speaks of the degree of God’s power. His power is extraordinarily great. And as we saw on Sunday, God’s supremely great power is at work within you.
Now consider why this surpassing power of God is mentioned in 2 Cor. 4:7. Here Paul is talking about himself and his ministry. His description can be applied to all believers. We are “jars of clay” – fragile, inexpensive vessels. He goes on to describe the vulnerability of these vessels as “afflicted… perpelexed… persecuted… struck down… carrying in the body the death of Jesus” (vv. 8-10). This is to remind us that we have no power belonging to us.
Yet within these jars of clay a treasure is contained. This treasure is “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (v. 6). We have come to see the light of the gospel with the eyes of our heart (salvation). We are now custodians of the gospel – living by its truth and ministering its truth to others.
So we possess a great treasure in these fragile, vulnerable vessels that we are. Why did God deposit His treasure in such jars of clay? To show us that the surpassing power at work within us is His alone.
For although these vulnerable vessels are fragile (afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, dying), they are “not crushed… not driven to despair… not forsaken… not destroyed” (vv. 8-10). The life of Jesus is manifest in us (v. 11). How can this be? Because God’s surpassing power is at work in the lives of His people.
Let us know our place – we are jars of clay. Let us know our possession – the treasure of the gospel. Let us know our powerhouse – God Himself is directing His exceeding power to us.
Thus these jars of clay need not lose heart. “Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day” (v. 16). This is because God’s surpassing power is working in us – conforming us to Christ, preserving us in faith, and empowering us for ministry. So as fragile and vulnerable vessels, let us rely on His great power and rejoice in His great treasure that is ours.