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PARABLE OF THE FISHING NET

MEMORY VERSE: “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. – Matthew 13: 47

Have you seen fishing nets before? In the days of Jesus, there were two types of fishing nets. One of them was a casting net carried by a fisherman while standing on the sea. The other was a dragnet, a wide square net at each corner with cords. When the fishing boat stopped, the net hung straight down in the water. When the boat passed, all the fish will be swept into the net and caught within its tracks. This is the kind of net referred to in this Parable.

The dragnet was drawn to the sea. The fishermen would then distinguish the edible and the unusable fish. The net was unable to tell which fish were good and which were unusable or too small. Jesus clarified that at the end of the world, this is the way things will be. God is going to “let down his net” and bring together the entire world’s people, the good and the bad. God would split them then. They will each be sent to their eternal destination.

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Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a net that has been dropped into the lake and caught by all sorts of fish. The fishermen pulled it to the shore when it was finished. They sat down and picked up the good fish in the baskets, but threw away the bad ones. At the end of the age, this is how it will be. The angels will come and divide the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where the weeping and gnashing of teeth will take place.

So, the fishermen were catching two kinds of fish in this story. Some good fish were captured and some bad fish. What have they been doing with healthy fish? (They placed them in holding baskets.)

What have they been doing with those poor fish? (They were throwing them away.)

Also, Jesus said the fish were like humans. The people who believe in God and do the best things that God wants them to do are good people. What’s going to happen to those decent people when they die? (They’ll be going to Heaven.)

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Just like the fishermen kept the good fish in their basket, God will keep them in Heaven.

And the bad guys are people who don’t believe in God and do the wrong things God doesn’t want them to do. What happens to people when they die if they don’t believe in God? (They’re going to go to Hell.)

Just like the fishermen threw away the bad fish, God will send those people to Hell.

It’s sad that God doesn’t want everyone to go to Hell, but some people will because they chose not to believe in God.

That’s why we need to make sure that we believe in God and convince as many other people as we can to believe in God so that, when they die, they can still believe in God and not go to Hell.

What is the primary lesson that Christ, through this Parable, wants to teach us? It is evident from its opening that Christ offers us an illustration of one part of the “kingdom of heaven” (v. 47). We could describe His kingdom as the realm where He gathers people through His Word and Spirit to rule them graciously. This realm, however, includes a mixture of those who profess to belong to the kingdom but do not really belong there in their souls. Much as the first Parable in this chapter reveals that only one of the four soils has produced good fruit, so this Parable shows that “good fish” and “bad fish” are present in the presence of the Kingdom of Heaven.

The kingdom of Heaven passes very imperceptibly in the path of the Lord across the globe. It includes not only real subjects of the kingdom within it, but also those such as Judas, Ananias and Sapphira, Demas, and many others who were also in the domain, but there is no kingdom in them. In this Parable, there are literally two separations: the first is by the net and the second is on the shore.

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Note that, as between “the evil” and “the just,” He unpacks the distinction between the good and bad fish. This is not merely a divide between the good and the bad, for then there would be only one good, Jesus Christ, and all else would be thrown away. On the basis of other scriptures, we are able to infer that the righteous are those justified by a true, living faith.These were just as sinful by nature as the rest; yet, on the grounds of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, offered on their behalf, they were acquitted before the court of God. After all, the Parable focuses on the decision in the end. 

The Lord speaks of a division which will take place at the end of the earth. It will be evident at the final judgment, which Christ has redeemed from the curse of the constitution.

Christ clearly describes the Angels. Among the different duties assigned to angels is that of separating the judgment between believers and unbelievers (see Matt. 13:41, Matt. 25:31-32). As faithful, holy, and moral beings, they will fulfil their task quickly and precisely. They will separate according to the standard of God. What a great separation it’s going to be! It will not be made into Heaven by one wicked person; not one of the saved people of God will unintentionally be lost in Hell. There will be no person pleading his own case. All that matters is what the Lord has given to the angels, and that is what Christ has revealed to us. This is the substance of this Parable of what Christ was teaching.

The Light of Search

There are a variety of ways in which the Parable checks our hearts. It poses the following questions for us:

Are we merely happy to be among the professing people of God? 

Untold numbers of people are happy to be on the net. You look beyond the professing church to make sure they move gladly in the future. They believe that all is good simply because other professing Christians are nearby and believe that they are going to the same place. To the Corinthians, Paul warned,

Do we see ourselves as God sees us?

The great dividing line between the two classes of fish was between good and bad (literally, clean and unclean). God does not care about what we want to worry about — size and appearance. The smallest sign of defilement is seen in his eye. We are dead by nature, spiritually, and God is looking at us as if we were looking at dead and decaying fish, and even worse. We must see ourselves as God sees us in this universe and honour the ideals of God. The Bible makes it clear that no man can see the Lord without holiness (Heb. 12:14).

When God works by His Spirit in our lives, He gives us to see within our hearts, some of the fountains of uncleanness, and we turn away in horror. We begin to ask: “Is that really how I am?” But then He shows us His beloved Son, who was “holy, harmless, unblemished” (Heb. 7:26), and we begin to understand the standard of God. He then also proceeds to show us that we can obtain everything we need in order to be justified and sanctified by faith in His well-beloved Son. In the world of fish, he does something that never happens: an unclean, defiled, dead sinner is renewed and restored to the image of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ went through death and God’s punishment in order to remove His people from the wrath and judgment of God forever. Should we respect The Son of God? Do we respect his holiness and righteousness? Are we counting the reality of Hell on that?

Hell is a doctrine that many have sought to erase from the Bible. Many people claim they believe in Heaven than they believe in Hell, and the majority of people who believe in Hell don’t think they’re going there. However, the doctrine of Hell is taught by Christ in this Parable:

Here and elsewhere, Christ is rather graphic and defines Hell as a place of torture for both body and soul. Darkness and burning, pain and crying, gnashing of teeth and eternal agony will be there. If you never had this reality of Hell before, Christ puts it before you in this Parable. It will come upon us without prevention, relief or cure, forever, unless we escape the coming wrath!

The Redeemer

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If we are reckoning with the reality of Hell and that by default we all deserve it, what then? We need to run to the One who speaks this Parable for mercy. Because of the perfect justice of Christ, who has suffered Hell for them, the righteous in the Parable will escape Hell. Many believe the theory of Hell goes against the concept of God’s love and the Savior’s compassion. The Lord Jesus Himself, though, talked in the Bible more about Hell than anyone else. On the Day of Grace, he addressed it, telling us to run to Him. How hot it is, and how deadly it can be, what parent will never alert his children of fire? As the One who will suffer Hell for anyone of His people, Christ warns us.

Some people think that we should not only follow the Lord out of fear of Hell. But if the Lord sanctifies the doctrine of Hell for us to escape from the wrath to come, let it be the first step away from the verge of Hell and into the arms of Him who forever gives Heaven to His people with Him (Luke 3:7).

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