Let me sing for my beloved
my love-song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill.
He dug it and cleared it of stones,
and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it,
and hewed out a wine vat in it;
he expected it to yield grapes,
but it yielded wild grapes.
And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem
and people of Judah,
judge between me
and my vineyard.
What more was there to do for my vineyard
that I have not done in it?
When I expected it to yield grapes,
why did it yield wild grapes?
And now I will tell you
what I will do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge,
and it shall be devoured;
I will break down its wall,
and it shall be trampled down.
I will make it a waste;
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns;
I will also command the clouds
that they rain no rain upon it.
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts
is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah
are his pleasant planting;
he expected justice,
but saw bloodshed;
but heard a cry!
-Isaiah 5: 1-7
I have a unique opportunity this week to teach with JCPC. I led both the pastor bible study and our youth bible study on the same passage I'm preaching this week, so I've done a deep dive on that passage. That passage, which you'll see Sunday is from Matthew. In it, Jesus is likely referencing all the prophets in his parable, and specifically these verses from Isaiah 5.
Reading this now, you'll be able to hear the parable like the original crowd with Jesus or the first Jewish converts reading Matthew. The words of this prophet will be in your ears and mind as you hear about the vineyard in the parable and the prophets/servants of the Master in that story. When God tells a story of a garden or vineyard or farm, it often stands for all of creation. The Master is often God and the servants or children are often us or God's people. Would this chapter be hard to hear? Do you think God's people would want to hear about possible invaders? As it turns out, they didn't. Isaiah was killed. He's considered one of the great major prophets by Jews today and in the day of Jesus. But in his own day, he was reviled. Just like Jesus. Hard messages are hard to hear.
That's a message that seemed to come through this week from Isaiah and Matthew. The words of the prophets and Jesus are hard to hear. They're challenging. They're good news to the homeless and hungry and poor and widows and orphans and prisoners and refugees. But for those of us with many blessings, they call us to serve more and give up a lot. What a privilege to be so blessed that the words of the gospel compel us to be generous. What words from the prophets and Jesus are challenging you right now? What will you do next? Please share those ideas and conversations with me. The work is great, but we have each other to work the vineyard and help produce the fruit.