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 🙂 )
Alissa encourages you?!?! And I, your own sister, do not?! Sheesh Er, thanks. Love ya too. And the “when there’s love at home” was dad. He just didn’t sign it. Another interesting little tid bit about the vine and branches thing. I like the “lift up” the branches instead of the remove or take them away. Makes me feel a little better. 🙂
You encourage me too, Jen 🙂 … The next question is, though- what does getting lifted up look like? That’s probably not the most fun thing either…
well, in my mind it’s a good thing. Please don’t ruin it.
I thought this was interesting and decided to run it by my Hermeneutics teacher here at FSM (Forunner School of Ministry–IHOP.org). Here is his reply:
An interesting concept. And, in fact, airw does mean “lift up” but most of the time it is used that way it’s talking about lifting up the hands in prayer, lifting up the voice in prayer, etc. Throughout the remainder of scripture, however, most times it does mean “remove” – it’s the word used to describe the rapture – which is a BIG taking away. Before we can make the decision that this is a gentle procedure used by the vinedresser to coax life out of the vine, however, we need to look at the rest of the context. It appears that the decision to menw (remain) is up to the branch. It is only when a branch has made the conscious choice to not produce fruit that the vinedresser makes the cut (so to speak). The overall flavor of the text (in its context!) is that the choice is not that of the vinedresser but the branch. The vinedresser literally commands the branch, “Remain in me! It’s YOUR choice. But if you choose not to do what I command, you will be removed.” The other issue related to the “lift up” understanding is that there appears to be a contrast in 15:2 – one branch that bears a little bit of fruit – that shows a willingness to succeed, if you will – is pruned so that it will bear more fruit. The other branch is simply “taken away.” There is no indication that the purpose of the “airw” is to improve production as with the branch that is pruned – it seems to be a final act. That contrast is substantiated in the remainder of the segment which continues to contrast the branches that choose to remain against the branches that choose to not remain.
There ya go man – you knew you’d get a “context” answer when you came to me. I kind of play one note all the time, don’t I?
I just got done researching this further and writing my own response to this and decided to run it past Katheryn (the family I am staying with) and add to what my teacher gave me.
She told me that I may be be a little insensitive in my enthusiasm to search out the Word. There are so many blogs and forums down here in the IHOP world an people just expect responses. That I just read this and responded.
This is maybe what you are not used to and did not expect. So I will keep my write up off and say that I am sorry if i was abrupt. I meant no ill will.