Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: The angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
This parable illustrates and warns of the final separation between the wicked and the righteous. This is a judgment parable and it serves to warn us of the consequence of rejecting God. The fishing technique used in this parable was familiar to Jesus’ audience, especially to those of His disciples who were fishermen. Fishing was done by different means in their day as it is in our day. Sometimes fishermen fished with a line and a hook. Other times, they fished with a smaller net called an amphiblestron. However, when fishermen were going after a large school of fish they would use a dragnet. A dragnet was used by a team of fishermen and was set up between two boats, in deep water. Such a net could span a distance of as much as half a mile. Floats held up the top of the net while weights pulled down the bottom. When the net swept through an area it picked up everything in its path. When fishermen arrived at shore they began separating the good, usable fish from the bad fish and other sea creatures.
This is the picture. God’s end-time dragnet sweeps the earth and gathers all of humanity onto the shores of the judgment seat of Christ and angels separate the wicked from the righteous men and women. The bad fish are those whom the angels throw away. These wicked are cast into the furnace of fire where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is to be feared above all things, to be thrown into the furnace of fire.
Friend, are you a “good fish?” Are you a “bad fish?” What if you were to be gathered into God’s dragnet today, having a heart and soul condition like you presently do? Are you ready to be sorted and sifted? Or do you need to undergo a great inward change? The answers to these questions are too important to ignore. Friend, settle the question of your soul’s salvation. How do you settle the question? Open your eyes to what Jesus has done for you. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth to die for sin. He did not die for His own sins; He died for your sins and for mine. We are sinners. He is sinless. We are guilty. He is innocent. We deserve judgment. He stepped forward and suffered judgment on our behalf, that we might be forgiven. Jesus Christ was crucified and laid in a tomb. Then, in three days, He rose from the dead.
Friend, it is not your own personal self-righteousness which will make you a good fish. The righteousness of Christ is there to stand in your place. Jesus Christ’s is the only sacrifice that will satisfy God. If you have not already done so, you must accept the righteousness of Christ, His finished work. This righteousness must be accepted. It must be applied to your life by repentance and faith. Repentance is making the choice to turn from self rule and surrender your life up to God, to follow Him and His way. Faith is believing and trusting in Jesus. Faith is a voluntary trust in Jesus and it follows an awareness that we have sinned against God and are in desperate need of His forgiveness. Faith is like the hand that grabs on to a rope to be pulled to safety. Faith grabs ahold of God’s promises and fastens the heart to them like a drowning man fastens his grip onto the side of a lifeboat. Friend, have you responded to God with faith and repentance? If you have not, let your whole heart and mind be taken up with the thought of Christ’s sacrifice for you. Then make your decision to turn to the Lord, forsake your old life and follow Him. This decision must be a decision of the heart, not just a thought in your mind. Your decision must be a voluntary trusting in Christ. This is faith. Friend, if you are trusting in your own good deeds and your own goodness to please God, you are making a big mistake. You need to be converted spiritually. You need a new heart. God wants to give you a new heart but you must turn to Him in faith.
Friend, if you have not done so, pledge your life to God. Commit yourself to His mercy. Renounce your self-rule. It is better to gnash your teeth now in contrition and repentance than to gnash your teeth on the Day of Judgment. Tell Jesus that you want to be a good fish in His dragnet. Faith and repentance are voluntary and the choice is yours. Repentance is voluntary surrender. Faith is voluntary trust. Friend, there is coming a day in which God’s great dragnet will sweep the world. We will all be gathered and separated for eternity. The choice of becoming a good fish is open to you now, in this life, in these days of God’s mercy. Jesus died on a cruel cross so that you and I could be forgiven of sin and rescued from God’s judgment. Make your choice today of voluntary surrender and voluntary trust. Pray to Christ in your own words. He loves you enough to die for you.
Finney, Charles.The Original Memoirs of Charles G. Finney. Grand Rapids : Zondervan.
MacArthur, John F. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary : Matthew 8-15. Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute, 1987.
Scripture taken from the King James Version.