The first picture is of Bryan and I under a vine somewhere in the Shephelah in the Sorek valley. The Sorek valley was where Samson liked to hassle the Philistines (Judges 13-16). The second picture is of a vine orchard also in the Sorek Valley. For such a small country, Israel has an amazingly diverse landscape. Parts of Israel are incredibly green, and others are so brown.
The second picture shows how Israeli vineyards work today. Hanging the vines up this way is a very western approach to vineyards. However, the Palestinians have continued with the older (and middle eastern) way of producing a vineyard. They simply lay their vines on the ground (sorry I don’t have a picture for you). If the vine begins to struggle and stops producing good grapes the the owner will lift up the vine and hang it over a stone to HELP it produce more and better grapes. Hmmmmm….
Now, in John 15:2 the sentence has been translated “every branch that does not bear fruit He takes away.” What the English has translated as “take away,” the Greek word there can also mean “lift up.” The verse could then be translated as “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He lifts up (to help it produce good fruit), and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that may bear more fruit.”
Perhaps what Jesus is saying here is not that those who struggle will be cut off and thrown into the fire. But instead, His Father will help those who struggle so that they can produce good fruit. Only those who have removed their roots from the vine, who refuse to abide in Jesus at all, are in serious trouble (vs 6).
When we get to heaven one day we can ask for sure 🙂 Until then, perhaps this is a new way to look at the passage.
(Alissa, you encourage me, my friend, feel free to stalk all you want 🙂 )