Imagine with me a for a moment. Go ahead and close your eyes if that helps you.
You’re riding your horse through some dark woods on a really cold night. The leafless branches are moving back and forth in the wind. Backlight by the moon, the branches cast a dancing shadow along your path. You’re nervous, your palms are sweating, your body is shaking some because of the fear you are feeling. Your horse senses this and he’s nervous as well, but you continue on. Slowly you make your way down this path.
All of sudden a pack of wolves jumps out from woods onto your path. Your horse panics and rears back. You fall off the horse breaking your lantern as you hit the ground. As you sit up, you see your horse running away. Then between the you and the view of your runaway horse you see a couple of the wolves come together and slowly approach you. You get up and run.
You run as fast as you can to try to get away from the wolves. You see an open gate and as you dash behind it you trip and fall again. As the wolves close in on you, you quickly reach up your foot and slam the gate shut on their faces. Safe, you slowly walk towards this large dark house.
You knock on the large doors and as you knock they swing open. You slowly enter. “Hello? Anyone home? I don’t mean to intrude but I lost my horse and need a place to stay for the night.” Silence. Then you hear a couple of voices talking back and forth as if they’re discussing something. You pick up the candlestick and again say, “Hello? Is anyone there?” At that you feel slight tapping on the side of your head. You turn and the candlestick says “Hell-o!” In shock you drop the candlestick and then notice a little clock walking across the floor talking.
You can open your eyes if you had them closed. Watching you, some of you caught on that I was describing a scene from the Disney movie, “Beauty and the Beast.” But for a moment I want you think about the character I was portraying you as, I want you to think about crazy ole Maurice.
How strange would be it to walk into a house where all the inanimate things talked. The candlestick, the clock, the tea pot, your tea cup as you drank. For that to happen in real life would be absurd.
Likewise, it’d be disturbing walking into a potter’s shop and find all the different pieces complaining loudly from the shelves. “I wanted handles! Why am I a pot and not a pitcher? You left your thumbprint on me! Do you know what you’re doing?” The clamor from the pots would be loud, whiney, and foolish. If you had never seen Beauty and the Beast, who would have heard of pottery talking back to you? Who would have heard of pots complaining about the work of the potter, who has ever witnessed such silliness? Who is the clay and who is the potter? Do the created really criticize the creator?
Yes, pots complain and the created criticize their creator, especially if they are the Israelites of our Old Testament reading from Isaiah. They do if they are sinners living a sin cursed world, they do if they are living in the twenty-first century which means … we do. We complain, we criticize
Throughout our world today, throughout the Bible, throughout the Old Testament and the history of Israel, all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden … man has not been satisfied. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit from the tree because they were no longer satisfied with being a creature but they wanted to be like their Creator, they wanted to be like God.
God in Isaiah says that the people of Jerusalem, “They come near me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (29:13a). They act like they care about God and others, but they don’t really. They play lip service to God in worship, but their hearts aren’t in it. Because of this, because of their lack-luster worship and care for anything God is doing for them, God allows the Assyrian army to come in and put pressure on the Israelites. But instead of turning to God for help, the Israelites turn to Egypt and criticize the actions or what they see as the lack of action from God.
Our cries today aren’t much different. Listen to our cries from the Potter’s workshop, from God’s workshop. “Hey! I wanted to be taller.” “I wanted to be smaller” “I desire greater riches and more power.” “I want to be in control of my own life and my own body.” “I do not want to acknowledge and bow down to anyone or anything.” “I am an accident of nature. I am not a ‘creation.’” “It is not my fault I act the way I do; God made me this way.” The clamor, the whining, the demands of God are loud, the noise is deafening. Every pot on the shelf is violent and harsh in its complaint. How foolish is this? Yet this is the cry we raise, each and every one of us. This is the wailing and whining which rises to the ears of the LORD. This is the dissention of creation as it complains to the Creator.
With all this noise, all this whining and criticizing … what should the Creator of all things, the Maker of heaven and earth, do with such a crew of ungrateful pots? How will God respond to the noisy complaints and the shouting which comes without wisdom? The creation is in rebellion. Humankind even denies its Creator as if God’s hand were not evident in the making. What will God do?
Not what he ought to. God through Noah and the great flood of Genesis 6 had at one time wiped every piece of pottery off the face of the earth in order to start over. God through the bringing down of fire and brimstone took out the outright sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. I’m sure our world is just as corrupt and evil now as it was then. Yet God promised to never destroy the earth again by a flood.
God instead established His very own Son, the new David, in our land, in our world. God took His one and only Son and anointed him as the King of all creation. God raised Jesus, He lifted him up and gave him the name that is above every name so that all who look to him as their Savior will be saved.
Jesus ascended the steps to the throne in order to rule … but it wasn’t the steps of a royal throne of gold and jewels. No, Jesus ascended the steps of a mountain to be crowned with thorns and to be raised up on the throne of the cross. Jesus’ subjects, his disciples, they fled, they scattered like dust in the wind. Jesus’ army of angels held back their might by God the Father’s command, and in doing so … they allowed the evil one, they allowed Satan to work his wickedness.
Yet even though Jesus appeared as a lamb who had been slayed, he rose up victoriously from the grave. He outwitted his foes and he crushed his enemy. Jesus freed his people, he freed you from the chains which hold you in your sin and he poured out his victory upon you.
In the movie, “Beauty and the Beast,” the Beast’s subjects, the talking candlestick, clock, tea pot, tea cup and others, they were strong for their master and tried to help him feel and give love in return. That’s not us. That’s not us because we aren’t strong enough to put aside our selfish and sinful ambitions. We too easily give into our temptations and we criticize against our Creator in some way.
Even though you and I, even though all of creation is weak … we have Jesus. Jesus, who was strong in our place. Though Jesus’ disciples and we tend to run and deny him … Jesus saves, he embraces, and he calls each of us to him to be his. He sits enthroned at the right hand of God the Father Almighty and is preparing an everlasting place for his created ones, for you and me.
Through Jesus, the words of Isaiah are and will be fulfilled. “In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. Once more the humble will rejoice in the LORD; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel” (29:18-19). Our cries are transformed into praises and our complaints rise up as prayers of thanksgiving for what the Holy One, for what Jesus has and is doing for us and others. And what do the pots say to this … amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever. Amen.