Walk with me through the vineyard. We stroll between the vines in the early morning sunlight. The vintager has worked hard, caring for this land that he loves, doing all he can to encourage a good harvest. Do you feel a sense of satisfaction, peace, and contentment as all seems well with the world?
Come closer and look for the grapes. Cup a small cluster in your hands. In the midst of this tranquil scene you make a disturbing discovery: rather than tasty edible fruit, the foliage masks wild grapes. The wild fruit will not ripen and produce a sweet crop.
God, the vintager, chose fertile land cleared of stones to plant the choice vines of the people of Israel. With such care, God expects a high yield of grapes for good wine—not a failed vineyard. Like the grapes, the Israelites seem to be doing okay; externally, all looks well. But in reality they have turned their backs on God; they yield only inedible sour fruit. So God asks, “What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done?”
We have to ask ourselves if we differ from the Israelites. As the green leaves concealed the sorry state of the fruit, so we too conceal whatever is wrong in our personal, inner worlds. That may be a situation beyond our control—an illness or retrenchment. Or we may have turned our back on God and refused to acknowledge what we know deep inside—that we are sadly imperfect.
Do we as choice vines of God’s choosing, whom God protects with a watchtower, ignore God’s clarion call, God’s love-song for the vineyard? What more must God do to redeem us?
Abba, make me aware of your Spirit’s movement in my life. Let nothing come between us so that I can bear fruit for you. Amen.
Isaiah 5:1-7 and Psalm 80:8-19 employ simi- lar images to represent the people of God—a vine or a vineyard. The image clearly communicates the careful commitment of God to God’s people. Unfortunately, the people do not respond in kind, so God must destroy the vineyard. The people plead for restoration, and their future life will depend not on their repen- tance but on God’s repentance! Jesus issues a radical call for human repentance in Luke. God will bear the burden of human disobedience, and God’s gracious turning to humankind makes life possible. Hebrews shows that the story of God’s people does contain outstanding episodes and exemplars of faith and sug- gests that God never gives up on calling us to follow, to run the dif cult race that leads to life.
• Read Isaiah 5:1-7. What fruit are you growing—wild grapes or sweet ones? How can God redeem you?
• Read Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19. How do you recognize God’s love and presence?
• Read Hebrews 11:29–12:2. Think of a cirumstance when your faith in God was all you could rely on.
• Read Luke 12:49-56. Where do you recognize the urgency of the kingdom of God? How does this awareness affect your daily actions?
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