Written by Danika Delello
“What more could I have done for my vineyard than I did? Why, when I expected a yield of good grapes, did it yield worthless grapes?” Isaiah 5:4
In Isaiah chapter five, a song is written about a vineyard. The singer had a loved one, he says, and his loved one had planted a vineyard and had done everything to make it thrive. He had tilled the soil and cleared out every rock. He had selected the finest sapling vines to plant. He had fenced it in and even built a watchtower so he could protect his vineyard from thieves.
He had worked so hard and planned so carefully for the success of his vineyard, that there was no doubt of a wonderful crop. He built a winepress to press the succulent grapes he would harvest.
That good harvest never came. Instead, the entire garden produced only wild grapes. Tiny, measly little things not worth the time it would take to harvest them. All of his effort was a waste.
“What more could my loved one possibly have done?” the singer cries.
He put his heart and soul, his sweat and his pain into this venture, and he reaped nothing. Perhaps many of you can empathize with his sense of futility. You invested yourselves wholeheartedly into a ministry, or business venture, a relationship, or raising your children and it seems like all you had to show at the end of it all was wild grapes.
What more could you have done for your business but buy your own merchandise? What more could you have done for your children except live their lives for them? What more could you have done to reach lost souls except change their hearts yourself?
What more could the gardener have done for his garden… except produce the fruit himself?
The vineyard song is widely regarded as an allegory for the relationship between God and Israel. God had selected people for his own. He had given them leaders, teachers, and prophets. He had protected them from their enemies, armies, and natural disasters. He had placed them in a gorgeous and prosperous land. He had entrusted them with His written word. He had lived among them in the tabernacle and, later, the Temple.
He had chosen them to be a people who followed him and pointed the surrounding nations to Him. He had done everything to set them up for success, and yet, they had failed. They turned away from him and worshipped idols. They sinned against him, time and time again. They produced nothing but worthless fruit.
What more could God have done, to create a people who bore fruit for him, except produce the fruit himself?
Nothing at all. So, He began again. He called out a new people, the Church, who would be united by their faith in Him. He put His Spirit within them to produce the fruit He wanted. It was clear that mankind was too rotten to produce anything but foul fruit. The failure of Israel was set down in Scripture so that all people for all ages will know that men and women cannot produce God’s fruit, even in the best of circumstances.
Now, God produces the fruit himself.
The Holy Spirit dwells in us when we put our trust in Christ, and He produces in us the fruit that we cannot bear ourselves. Our old, corrupted selves are crucified with Jesus, and His resurrection life is now at work within us, flowing through us like sap through vines. We have simply to rest and abide in Him.
There is nothing more for Him to do. He’s already done it all.
“Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you remain unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.” John 15:4-5