God does not mince words when it comes to His love for His people. He does not attempt to conceal his feelings. He does not hold anything back. He is bold, passionate, and makes it clear that he is willing to do whatever it takes to have the heart of the one he loves. Often, we make the mistake of thinking that because he is God he must have greater things to attend to than his love for us, but what we fail to see is that everything he does he does for the ones that he loves: that’s you and I and everyone else.
If you’ve never read The Song of the Vineyard passage in Isaiah 5, take a moment and go read it right now. Even if you’ve read it before, go read it again. In this passage God is portrayed as the owner of a vineyard, and as the owner he goes out of his way to provide everything the vineyard needs to be successful.
He labors to break up the hard soil so the nutrients are available to the plants. He meticulously removes all of the stones so that there are no obstacles to the root systems. When he plants his vineyard he does so with the very best of vines. He not only builds up a protective wall, but constructs a tower in the middle of the vineyard that he might personally watch over it. And he is so sure that his vineyard will produce an overabundance of choice grapes that he digs out a winepress prior to the first yield. That is how proud and certain he is of his vineyard, and why shouldn’t he be? After all, he has done everything he could for his vineyard. All the vineyard has to do is what it is designed to do – produce good grapes.
Instead of producing good grapes, though, the passage informs us that the vineyard produces worthless grapes. Notice that the issue is not that the vineyard did not produce any fruit at all. Rather, the fruit it produced was worthless. How is that possible? The vineyard owner did everything he could possibly do, why did it not produce the fruit he expected? The fault lies not in the vineyard owner but the vineyard. It is clearly not capable of producing good fruit.
The prophet uses this illustration to demonstrate God’s love for His people, and their refusal to reciprocate that love. The Israelites, time and time again, abandoned God’s love for them and instead chased after empty idols. Instead of justice and righteousness, good fruit, God’s people were known for their injustice and wickedness, worthless fruit. There was literally nothing more God could do in this instance. Much like the vineyard that was incapable of producing good fruit, God’s people had an endemic problem.
God could have stopped there. He could have said, “It’s impossible. The people simply are incapable of doing what I require of them.” Yet, he did not. Instead, he made a new way. Instead of relying on the vineyard (i.e. his people) to produce good fruit, he placed himself, as the perfect vine, into the vineyard, so that the vineyard, as long as it relies upon him, would have the ability to be successful. This vine, of course, is Jesus. He is not the vineyard, but is in the vineyard, and makes it possible for the vineyard to be successful.
Since we are connected to Jesus, we can be successful. We can produce the good fruit of righteousness that God requires of us not because we are special, but because Jesus is special and we are connected to him. This is how the vineyard is redeemed. This is the love story we are to tell. God has gone out of his way because he deeply, passionately, and whole-heartedly desires a relationship with us. There is nothing more important to him, than that we share in the experience of this love and reciprocate it. We are the motivation for everything he does. The question is, “Is he the motivation for what we do?”
News and Notes
As Resurrection Sunday fast approaches, we are preparing for an incredible time of worship. Mark your calendars now, and plan to join us on Good Friday, April 14th for our second annual Worship at the Cross evening service. Through Scripture, song, and powerful symbolism we will reflect upon the magnitude of the sacrifice of Christ, as we look back at the Savior’s final hours. This time of reflection will set the stage for a wonderful time of celebration on Sunday, April 15th as we rejoice in His resurrection and our future hope. Come and share in this gospel retelling and invite a friend to come with you.
At the end of this month, members of our worship team will be traveling to Winston-Salem for the Leadnow Worship Conference, led by Paul Baloche, March 31-April 1. If you plan to attend this conference and have yet to register, please do so as soon as possible.
We are in need of new SALT (Sound And Light Team) members. If you, or someone you know, is interested in providing production assistance for our worship services at Rose of Sharon, please notify either myself or Mike Meier.
If you’ve ever played an instrument or considered playing one, let me invite you to join us on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month. These are our Music Lab sessions and are open for anyone who has any level of skill or interest. We meet in the worship center from 6:30-7:30pm, and would love to have you join us.
Thank you for the opportunity to lead you in worship each week. It’s a true honor to serve alongside each of you.
In His Service,