Monday, November 28, 2016

The Heart of Christmas: The Vineyard that Caused Christmas


During the Advent Season, we celebrate the Christmas story. The Virgin Birth. The Baby in the manger. The star of Bethlehem.

What we often forget is the story of why the Baby in the manger was so necessary. 

Isaiah explains the problem in terms of a vineyard that, in a way, caused Christmas.

The Vineyard Owner searched carefully for the most fertile plot of ground. He wanted the land with the best potential. When He had chosen His spot, He cleared the land, removed the rocks, and dug out all the weeds. He planted the best vines, then built a garden shed so that everything needed to care for his vines would be close at hand.

In anticipation that the best vines in the best location with the best care would bring forth the best fruit, He built a wine vat to process his grapes. 

He waited with anticipation to see the beautiful fruit that would be produced. Every vine had terrific potential. Every vine would produce lovely, high quality fruit. He would blend it all together and make a wine that was magnificent, a quality never before seen. 

The sun shone. The rain fell. Nutrients surged into the plants from the fertile soil. The vines grew and flowered. Fruit began to form.

When the first grape ripened, He eagerly tested it. Bitter. Tasteless. Worthless. 

More fruit ripened. Equally poor quality. (From Isaiah 5)

What should He do?

He had already done everything He could do, but there was something inherently wrong with the vines. There was nothing to do but pull them up and start again.

That's where we were. Our sin nature had marred us at the deepest level. Nothing we could produce would ever be pure enough to satisfy our Lord. We were the worthless, failed vines.

We deserved judgment. Annihilation. Destruction.

But our God...

He was determined. He would not be defeated by a vineyard full of worthless, failed vines.

He did what had to be done. 

He chose His Son as the only Vine. He made it possible that we, the branches that failed, could be grafted in because of His great love. Same perfect care. Same rich soil, bright sun, timely rain. 

At last, lush fruit could be produced, even from the wild branches that were grafted in. 

The Vine wasn't sent as a sprout with roots in a bag of soil. The Vine came to us as a tiny baby boy, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. He was, and still is, the most precious Vine of all. 

Christmas, the Flesh-wrapped God come to live among us, was possible because of God's great love, but we must never forget that it was necessitated because of our great failure, our sin.

Because of Jesus, we can be grafted into His vine. We can bear quality fruit that lasts. And we must. 

But do we?

Today, let's take a close look at our lives from God's perspective. After all, His is the only perspective that matters. Let's invite Him to make whatever changes need to be made, prune what needs to be removed.

The objective is not showy leaves or long branches. The objective is fruit that lasts.

"I am the vine and you are the branches..." John 15:5 nasb
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Heart of Christmas: Stripping Away the Glitter to Find the Beautiful 
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