I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. “Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?” . . . The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.
It was back-breaking work to plant and care for a vineyard—the plowing, the clearing of stones, the planting. You had to wait two years to see any fruit. Yet, this farmer did everything possible to make his vineyard fruitful. But when he went to find good fruit, all he found was rot.
God told this story to describe the people of Israel. He had given them everything they could possibly need to succeed: a homeland, a guide to live by, a place to worship, leaders to help them, prophets to lead them. Nothing more could have been done. Yet, when the harvest came, God found no fruit. His people had rejected him.
Friends, this isn’t a picture of Israel alone. This is a picture of every single person on earth. Even though God has done everything for us, by nature, we hated God. We were God’s enemies. We produced only rotten fruit.
But God was determined not to give up on us. He sent his one and only Son, Jesus, to live in our place, to produce the good fruit that God desired. And Jesus not only lived for us, but also died for us to take away all of our sin and establish peace between us and God again. This good news creates a desire in us to do what God desires to produce the good fruit he’s looking for. Because of Jesus, we can once again be the garden of God’s delight!
Lord, have mercy on me for the times when I take your care for granted. Let me never receive that love in vain, but help me to produce the good fruit that you desire and deserve. Amen.