Christianity 201

February 11, 2016

Vine Imagery in Scripture

This devotional content is Day 1 in Shelly Cramm’s 5-part series on BlueLetterBible.org titled “Garden Stories: Away from the Last Supper,” and is excerpted the NIV God’s Word for Gardeners Bible in which scripture mix with principles of maintaining a vineyard. Click the title below to read at source. The readings are not long, and you can easily do all 5 parts in about 15 minutes including time to click through to the Bible references.

Grapevine’s Intertwined History

John 15:1

“I am the true vine.”

 Genesis 49:22;

“Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall.

Genesis 50:16-21;

16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

In using the grapevine as a metaphor, Jesus not only sharpened his disciples’ understanding of events to come, but drew upon a rich, deep heritage of the grapevine analogy in Israel’s history. Vitis vinifera, the grapevine, a member of the Vitaceae family, is a hardy and long-lived plant, extending roots deeply into most soil types. Preferring a Mediterranean climate with early spring rains, and little moisture on the flowers and fruits as they mature over summer, the vine will grow vigorously for generations. The grapevine pictures the establishing of a household’s prosperity, its nourishment, blessing and forgiveness intertwined throughout the Old Testament. Its particular characteristics of vivacity and need for pruning are vital in understanding God’s ways.

Grapevines are so full of enthusiasm and eagerness to grow that this is only the beginning — never let them get the upper hand; let them know from the very start that you are the boss. An annual pruning is essential and will maintain them in good health and vigor. — Louise Riotte, Growing Grapes and Berries, 1974

In Genesis we read that Joseph had the favor of his father Jacob over his sister and twelve brothers (Genesis 37:3). His father’s adoration grew Joseph’s confidence bordering on comeuppance. When he dreamed that his older siblings were bowing down to him, he used no discretion in telling them so (Genesis 37:5). He displayed “enthusiasm and eagerness,” noted by Louise Riotte in Growing Grapes and Berries, intrinsic to the grapevine. It would take many years and many pruning events — being sold into slavery (Genesis 37:28), thrown into prison (Genesis 39:20), and appointed to huge administrative responsibilities (Genesis 41:40) — to cut back and shape his ambition. Yet at the end of his life, Joseph bore the fruit of such pruning: Wisdom, humility, kindness, forgiveness and deep love of his family. Eventually, he did rule over his older brothers, a wise, benevolent and prudent leader. “Joseph was a fruitful vine” (Genesis 49:22), his father pronounced in his dying blessing.

Joseph’s forgiveness of his family foreshadows Jesus’ ultimate act of forgiveness; in the dark shadows of the crucifixion eve, moving away from the last supper, Jesus alluded to this great ancestor of forgiveness through the grapevine metaphor. In doing so, he prepared the disciples to endure his impending injustice and the trauma of losing their leader with the trusting wisdom that Joseph had spoken, as if to say, Remember, my friends, my Father will use what is intended to harm me for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Genesis 50:20).

…continue to part twopart 3part 4part 5

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