“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”
Wild grapevines don’t produce much fruit. But the vines in a vineyard are a different story. With careful management, they produce clusters of fruit, casks of wine, and a decent return on investment.
The Old Testament pictures the people of Israel as God’s vineyard. But the investment doesn’t pay off. Israel resists God’s management and produces lousy fruit. So God cuts his losses and lets the vineyard go wild (see Isaiah 5:1-7).
Yet the story doesn’t end there. Psalm 80 pictures Israel as a single vine that’s barely hanging on. The psalm pleads, in effect, “God, the vine belongs to you. Take care of it!” From there, the psalm pushes harder: “God, the vine is your son. Won’t you take care of your own son?” (See vv. 14-15.)
The psalm is looking back to Egypt, where God told Pharaoh, “Israel is my firstborn son. . . . Let my son go!” (Exodus 4:22-23). Just as God rescued Israel from Egypt, the psalm pleads with God to rescue them again.
From there, the psalm looks ahead to Jesus, because he is the true vine, the firstborn Son of God (see vv. 17-19). And now, by the Holy Spirit and through faith, we are united with Jesus. We have become branches of the true vine, who pours out his life like wine so that we can truly live.
Lord Jesus, sometimes I feel dry and lifeless, like nothing good can come from me. But with your life flowing through me, so much is possible! Thank you. Amen.