The True Vine
Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, the stock that Your right hand planted, and for the son whom You made strong for Yourself .... But let Your hand be on the man of Your right hand, the son of man whom You have made strong for Yourself! Then we shall not turn back from You; give us life, and we will call upon Your Name!
The psalmist writes, "You brought a vine out of Egypt; You drove out the nations and planted it" (Psalm 80:8). God set His people free from slavery in Egypt and planted them, His chosen vine, in the Promised Land. This vine of Israel was the son God called out of Egypt (see Hosea 11:1). God planted them to be a people made strong to worship and serve Him, to be a light for the nations. Yet the vine became rebellious and turned away from the Lord who had saved them, refusing to produce the fruit of faith that God sought from His vineyard. The Lord allowed His vineyard to be overrun by enemies, its walls torn down. The psalmist is pleading with God to have mercy on the suffering vine of Israel: "Have regard for this vine, the stock that Your right hand planted, and for the son whom You made strong for Yourself."
In speaking of the vine of Israel planted so long ago, our psalm foretells another vine planted on earth. This descendant of the vine of Israel is the Son of God, made strong for God's own purpose. Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, said of Himself, "I am the true Vine" (John 15:1a). This true Vine, this Son, would become the Man of God's right hand, but before Jesus was exalted to that high position, the true Vine had to die in order to give life to its branches.
As the vineyard of Israel was once broken and trampled, Jesus, the Son of Man, was put to death at the hands of His enemies. The Son made strong was beaten and mocked and nailed to a cross. But even then the Son was strong enough to bear the weight of the world's sin, strong enough to suffer in helpless weakness, enduring the penalty of death that we deserved. But God had regard for this Vine, the obedient, perfect Son He had made strong for Himself. The true Vine was raised to life on the first Easter morning, and after 40 days the risen Son ascended in triumph, exalted to reign at God's right hand.
Jesus, the exalted Son of Man, the true Vine, rose from death to give us life, both now and forever. In Baptism, we are united to Him, buried and raised with Him. Through faith in His Name, we bear the fruit of love and good works, bringing glory to the Father and demonstrating to the world that we are disciples of Jesus, branches of the true Vine.
Lord God, look on us with mercy and forgive our sins. As branches of Jesus, the true Vine, help us to grow strong in faith and active in love. Amen.
Dr. Carol Geisler
1. Why does the Old Testament refer to ancient Israel as a vine? Does using illustrations of vine, vineyard, and fruit create helpful word-pictures for you?Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
2. How would Israel remain strong with God's hand upon them?
3. Is there someone in your life who has strengthened you by his or her steady presence, someone aside from your wife or husband?
Why does the Old Testament refer to ancient Israel as a vine?