What do Tiger Woods, Ted Haggard, Nebuchadnezzar's statue, and you and I have in common? We all have feet of clay.
According to Dictionary.com, "feet of clay" means "a weakness or hidden flaw in the character of a greatly admired or respected person." Tiger Woods, a great and popular athlete, crashed into the world of gossip with his parade of indiscretions. Ted Haggard, former leader of the National Association of Evangelicals, shocked us with his shameful confessions. The book of Daniel tells about Nebuchadnezzar's dream of a giant statue representing the greatest world empires. The feet and toes were made of clay which-when struck by the rock representing Christ's coming kingdom-were shattered with the entire statue, prophesying the destruction of all human kingdoms. There isn't room to confess my own weaknesses, many of which are not hidden. Shall I hand you the pencil next?
We are quick to magnify the flaws of others, especially those who are in some way superior to us. We often look for cracks in the armor of famous and powerful people, especially if we are jealous of them or disagree with them. If we can't rise to their level, we try to bring them down to our level. Ironically, this attitude only serves to lower us more.
The bigger the man, the bigger the target. We like to aim high. Prominent figures attract prominent critics. The more threatening the personality or program, the more threatening the threats. No one in history has proven this more prominently than Jesus Christ.
Jesus had human feet but they were not feet of clay. Try as they would, no one could topple him. Sinners like Mary Magdalene kissed his feet and washed them with tears. The chief religious leaders sent their officers to arrest Jesus, but "The officers answered, 'No man ever spoke like this Man!'" (John 7:46). When Governor Pilate examined him, his verdict was, "I find no fault in this Man" (Luke 23:4). Jesus himself asked a question that no one has positively answered in 2000 years: "Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?" (John 8:46). Yet, he was a big target-a HUGE target-He was God in the flesh: "Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen" (Romans 9:5). There is no bigger target; hence, there has been no greater hatred toward any person in history.
Jesus was hated by religious leaders because he threatened their popularity: "For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him" (Matthew 27:18). Men hated him because he exposed their evil deeds: "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed" (John 3:20). People today discount Christ for the same reasons.
One of Jesus' most famous and unsettling sayings is, "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:3). His point is that we have no business fixing others when we have our own cracks to repair first. As Christ said to an adulterous woman's accusers, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her" (John 8:7). "People who live in glass houses" and all that.
If we are looking for people to emulate instead of eviscerate, to exalt instead of execrate, we can do no better than look to the Son of God, of whom it is written, "On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem" (Zechariah 14:4). He is coming again to reign forever, and "[T]he Scripture says, 'WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED'" (Romans 10:11).