January 02, 2012

Jesus Is the True Vine

Psalm 80:7-19

You transplanted a vine from Egypt…
Psalm 80:8


When Jesus referred to himself as a vine (see John 15:1), he used a metaphor that was understood better by his original audience than by people today. That’s because they knew the deep roots of this image in Scripture.

In the Old Testament Scriptures, the nation of Israel was often compared to a vine. We see this in today’s Bible reading. When Israel took possession of the promised land, it was as if God planted a choice vine in the fertile soil he had cleared for it. But as Psalm 80 also describes, the vine that initially flourished in the land eventually shriveled and was cut down.

That happened because of the people’s disobedience. The prophets record how the demise of God’s vineyard broke his heart. In Jeremiah 2:21 God laments, “I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?” And Isaiah 5:1-7 describes how God would punish “the vineyard … of Israel” for producing only bad fruit.

Jesus, however, became “the true vine” (John 15:1). He lived the life of perfect obedience that Israel—and all of us—were supposed to live. And his death is the only thing that restores sinful people to God’s original purpose of a fruitful life. The blood he shed on the dead wood of the cross makes the wilderness of our unfaithfulness a fruitful garden again!

Forgive me, Lord, for being unfaithful to you. Draw me close so that I can bear the fruit you created my life to produce. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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