I recently had the opportunity to travel to Napa Valley, California where they are famous for the large amounts of vineyards that are located there. Scripture is highly populated with vineyard metaphors and it was extremely impactful to me to see some of the examples Jesus and others use in the Bible played out in real time right in front of me.
John 15 says:
1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser.
2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.
11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
I witnessed this process happening right in front of me. I stood and saw endless rows of vines propped up by their trellis, I saw the harvested fruit from the productive vine, I heard stories of how when the wind blows the vine takes more water from the soil to thicken itself protecting the fruit, heard how the fruit was saved by the vine through harsh weather, and I saw the discarded non fruit producing vines in large mounds of blazing fire.
Sometimes when you read the Bible, you can skim over each word taking for granted the meaning or imagery displayed. So often I look at word pictures like the vine and while I understand what it’s conveying, I miss out on the weight behind the words. I’ve been challenged, and my challenge to all who read scripture, is to immerse yourself in the culture of the Biblical writers. There you will find depth and beauty to accompany the amazing truths of scripture. This depth gives rise to worship and the ability to see God more clearly, which after all is the aim of why we're here.