Texts for the Day
Vine and Branches
This is the second week in the stewardship series. Earth Day is on April 22. In celebration of Earth Day, let us study the use of agricultural imagery in Scripture. Such images appear frequently in the Bible and often seem foreign in our urbanized culture. Next Sunday, we see one of the most fruitful (sorry!) of these images, the vine.
Read Isaiah 5:1-7, the Song of the Vineyard. Jesus did not invent the idea of a vineyard. Here, hundreds of years earlier, Isaiah vividly compares Israel to a vineyard that did not produce fruit. God declares God’s loving care for the vineyard, but now God has no choice but to clear the vineyard away and replace it. With this background, let us now take a look at the use of vineyard imagery in the New Testament.
Now read Matthew 21:33-46, the Parable of the Wicked Tenants. Matthew, even more than the other Gospels, relies heavily on references to the Old Testament. Note the parallel imagery of wall, watchtower, and winepress that make the reference unmistakable. Yet there are differences, too, with Jesus specifically singling out failed leadership as the source of the vineyard’s problems.
Now read Sunday’s passage, John 15:1-8. Like in the Matthew passage, Jesus is drawing on this same Old Testament imagery of the vine. Except now Jesus himself is the vine, giving life to use, the branches. The judgment language of the previous two passages is still present, but within a message of hope. If we abide in Jesus, Jesus abides in us, and we will be fruitful.