Today is Mother’s Day and I wish to acknowledge all the mothers in our church family and around the world. It has been five years since Deb and I both lost our mom’s and I have been realizing more and more how much they imprinted on us both. It has caused me to contemplate my own “imprint” in the world around me.
While watching an episode of “Bull” the other day, character Taylor Rentzel said “The world was a better place with Caroline in it; and is a lesser place without her”. Like Debbie and I many of our mothers have gone before us and we may feel the same way about our moms as Taylor did about her friend. While that sentiment may be true, for the followers of Christ there is more to this idea than first meets the eye. Let’s begin with the idea of imprinting. In Biblical terms what we are talking about is the “Fruit” of our walk with the Lord.
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:16-20)
What does He mean when He speaks about the fruit we bear? Is there more to it than just our deeds in this life? I believe our fruit is the imprint we make on those around us and there is no one we imprint more than our children. In fact it is not limited to one generation nor to even two or three.
I never met my Grandmother Harrendorf, (my mom’s mother) she died before I was born, but I contend that Grandma Harrendorf imprinted on me and that I am part of her fruit. You see my mom was imprinted by her and that imprint was carried on in the imprint mom had on my brother, sisters and I. And despite never having met my grandma she also imprinted on Tuck and Chantal through the imprint she had on mom and through mom on me.
We all make imprints on all those around us but like the verse we just read the kind of imprint we make is up to us. When we walk with Jesus, His Spirit, the Holy Spirit abides within us and strives with our old nature to try and guide us to bearing Good Fruit. But our fruit good or bad does not die when we die. Our fruit continues on.
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. (John 12:23-26)
Jesus did not just say this, He was in fact the perfect example of how this is true. All death, all injustice, all despair and hatred is the direct result of Sin. Man’s Sin has been striving for dominance ever since and God in His wisdom overcame Sin with the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. The greatest act of “Bad Fruit” the world has ever known was the crucifixion of Jesus. But God turned that Bad Fruit into the greatest act of Good Fruit the world will ever know. Jesus gave up His life so that “… if it dies, it produces many seeds”.
Simon Peter was one of those seeds. Peter knew fishing and then he met Jesus. He spent the next three years walking with and learning from Jesus, but when Jesus was arrested and tried and crucified Peter denied Him three times and then went into hiding. Even after Jesus rose from the dead, after he had seen Jesus several times he still returned to fishing.
Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. (John 21:2-3)
But the Lord came to Peter there at the sea and reminded him of the first time they met.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. (John 21:4-7)
Then the Lord challenged Peter with three questions to match Peter’s three denials. He went on to tell Peter that he too would one day lay down his life and would by his fruit produce many seeds.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:15-19)
You see our fruit does not die with us, it continues on through generation after generation. In fact our death is often the thing that leads those we have imprinted to step up and to bear the Good Fruit they are called to bear. Peter’s fruit is still imprinting on Christians today almost 2000 years after he first met Jesus. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, death itself was turned from Bad Fruit into Good Fruit for those who love the Lord.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)
Thank you Father for my grandma Harrendorf, for my grandma Loper, and for my Mom and the fruit of their lives which imprinted on me and helped me become the man I am. I ask that you grow me and the fruit of my life, I ask that you help me to become more and more like Jesus every day. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen!