Remaking a spoiled vessel (Jeremiah 18:1-4)

The potter worked quickly and skillfully as he created his vessels from the lumps of formless clay. His working on the wheel was almost as if the two were one unit, with the wheel yielding to and obeying every impulse from the potter as he shaped and molded. Every once in a great while, the potter would make a mistake with the wheel or with the clay, and the vessel that he was making would be spoiled in his hand. In those instances, the potter would collapse the spoiled vessel back into a lump of clay and quickly remake it into another useful shape.

The LORD calls Jeremiah, the prophet, to go down to the potter’s house and he sees what we just described. The potter takes the spoiled vessel and remakes it into another one.

But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so, he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. – Jeremiah 18:4

As interesting as the work of the potter is, it is not the main point of this story. In fact, this story of the potter and the spoiled vessel is just an illustration that speaks to our own ruined human condition. You see, you and I come into this world as spoiled vessels and we need to find someone who will remake us into pristine, useful vessels.


The Bible is the story of God’s pursuit of His people and of how He redeems them and remakes them regardless of how spoiled they are. Included in the pages of Scripture are many pictures of what ruined vessels look like to show me how ruined I am.

So, what does a spoiled vessel look like?

As a spoiled vessel, I was like a demon-possessed man screaming naked among the tombs as I gash myself with stones. Not even chains and shackles could restrain me as I fought wildly against my own depravity (Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:27-39).

A spoiled vessel, I was like a newborn infant thrown out into the open field, squirming in my own blood, helpless and rejected. (Ezekiel 16:4-6)

I was dead like Lazarus, rotting in the grave, stinking in my graveclothes (John 11:39)

I was spoiled like Mephibosheth, crippled in both feet. (2 Samuel 9:3-4)

I was an unclean leper, longing to be touch and cleansed. (Matthew 8:1-4)

I was a spoiled and ruined vessel like the blind beggar, Bartimaeus, sitting in the dust beside the road (Mark 10:46-52).

Those are pictures of what a spoiled vessel looks like.

Watching a skilled potter make pottery and occasionally remake spoiled vessels into beautiful ones is entertaining, but what does someone do if they themselves are the ruined vessel? For the clay vessel was visibly spoiled, but I am comprehensively ruined. A skilled potter can remake a clay vessel into something useful, but who has the power to redeem and remake a ruined life?


And now we come to the main application of the story of the potter. For there is a master Potter who has the power to remake the most spoiled of vessels into a new and glorious creation. But observe that the ruin in the vessel cannot be repaired. This is not pottery repair, but it is pottery made new. The old vessel must go, and the new vessel must come.

For me there came a day when I realized that the vessel of my life was ruined and there was nothing and no one who could repair it. Sin had ravaged and was ravaging my life, and I needed to find someone who had the power to make me new and set me free. I was tired of gashing myself on stones. I was weary of the dust beside the road. I was rotting in the grave and I was crippled in my feet. My life was spoiled and needed to be remade. Then I met Jesus Christ, the great Savior, the one who has the power to remake ruined lives into useful lives. He has the power to give sight to the blind and freedom to the captives and beauty for ashes. He took my spoiled vessel and remade it as it pleased Him to make it.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. – 2 Cor. 5:17

SDG                 rmb                 3/8/2021

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s