This short essay is taken from the book, The Incarnation and the Exultation: An Advent Devotional. This devotional reflects on the scriptures of incarnation and exaltation in order to take you on a journey of thoughtful self-reflection. It is meant to draw you more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s coming into the world to help you walk your own inner path toward the season of Christmas. As you celebrate the coming of Christ into your lives during Advent and spend time reflecting on the readings in this devotional, may the light and love that entered our world lead you to the cross in wonder and thanksgiving. May you find joy and discover strength as you walk this wondrous journey to Bethlehem, always holding within your heart the image of the Hill of Calvary and the hope of the Age to come when Christ will return to call his people home!
Incarnation – Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, the stock which your right hand planted. They have burned it with fire, they have cut it down; may they perish at the rebuke of your countenance! But let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself! Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name! Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! let your face shine, that we may be saved! (Psalm 80:14-19)
Exaltation – I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
The symbol of the vine is a powerful one. Israel was planted in the Promised Land, cultivated and cared for, and raised up to produce fruit. And yet the disobedience and arrogance of the people led to their destruction and captivity. In their humbled state, they called out to God to restore them. That restoration would come at a heavy price, for the heavy hand of God came to rest upon the One at his right hand, the Messiah who came to earth to die on the cross, that same One who was raised up on the third day for our salvation. Advent is a time to remember the love that entered into the world to restore us from sin.
Jesus referred to himself as the vine and called us to be branches who draw our strength from him. Cut off from the vine, we produce no fruit. We are good for nothing but to be collected on the Day of Judgment and burned in the eternal fire. As we meditate on our restoration in Jesus, let us remember that without him we can do nothing, and with him we have all we need to find joy and strength in this world.
As believers, we are given the awesome privilege of looking upon the face of Love itself. In Jesus, we see the Father. All that the Father is, we can witness in the Son. As we continue in the vine, we draw from the power and purpose of heaven. Let this time of Advent help us to reconnect to the One who is our strength, our hope, and our joy. Let this period of preparation renew us and restore our love for the Savior who came to earth to live among us, to teach us his Word, and to die on the cross for our sins.
Prayer: Almighty Father, may I truly grasp the profound truth about the vine and the branches so that the incarnational power of Christ may produce fruit in me and lead me to love others in his holy name…Amen!
Holy wrath on him is resting,
God’s own Son at his right hand.
He the vine and we the branches,
Fruitful children, Promised Land.