Lifting Up

During an April study tour to Israel we made a visit to Nebi Daniel which was a vineyard, fresh and green from the latter rains of spring. Here we examined John 15 and Isaiah 5 together.  It was the first time for me to see illustrated what you may have heard me teach at the Abiding Life for Difficult Times Advance.  In one portion of the vineyard, the vines were not on trellises but rather lifted up as they would have been during the days of Jesus.

In John 15:2 Jesus describes two things His Father, The Vinedresser, does to encourage fruit from those who are in Christ.  One is the Greek word “kathairo” translated “to prune,” referring to cutting off certain branches in order that other branches may bear more fruit.  God is in charge of the pruning shears and the time for pruning, determining which branches need to come off and which type of pruning shear to use.

The other activity performed by the Vinedresser described in verse 2 is the word “airo” which may mean “to take away” or “to take or lift up.”  Because one who is “in Christ” cannot lose his/her salvation  and be cast away, the best translation here seems to be “to take up or lift up.”  “Airo” is translated “taking up” when the disciples took up 12 baskets of food after the feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14:20) and when Simon was forced to “airo” Christ’s cross (Matthew 27:32).

During the days of Jesus, vinedressers would “lift up” branches of the grapevines when they trailed along the ground, becoming dusty, muddy or wet from the heavy dew or rains.  He would carefully and tenderly lift the branch, clean it up and tie it to a large rock.  Then the sunlight could get to the plant in order to grow fruit where there had been none.  Before long the tiny grapes would grow.  The vinedresser was and is always looking for fruit!

Looking across that vineyard with the branches lifted up on those rocks I was moved deeply as I thought about my life and the Joy of Abiding ministry, whose name originated from John 15.  I am so grateful that God did not take me away when I was down and fruitless.  I am so grateful that he carefully and tenderly lifted me up as he cleaned me up and disciplined me to bring forth fruit.  I am so thankful for the words of Jesus who said, “I am the vine, you are the branches, he who abides in Me and I in him, he bear much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

My prayer is that that the amount of fruit in our lives will go from none, to some, to much…producing fruit that will remain and that whatever we ask in the Father’s name, He may give it to us, even as He has said He would (John 15:16).    He has chosen and appointed us to be fruit bearers!

Take a few minutes to ponder this picture of the “lifting up” and thank God for His tender care.

Delaine Blackwell