28/7/05 : Matthew 13:47-53
47 "Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51 "Have you understood all these things?" Jesus asked. "Yes," they replied. 52 He said to them, "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old." 53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there.
Jesus was talking about the kingdom of heaven, or the rule of God in an individual's life. He uses parables, stories with a meaning, to do this. Matthew grouped a number of these together ending with this one
Earlier Jesus had told the parables of the mustard seed and of the yeast make which the same point, that the rule of God would have small, humble beginnings but grow rapidly.
Jesus then told two parables of the lost treasure and the valuable pearl which tell of two people who gave up everything they had to gain something of greater value. This show how precious God's kingdom really is, and the need to give up everything to gain it.
Having taught that the kingdom was growing and should result in wholehearted commitment, Jesus then tells the parable of the net to show there will be a final separation of those who have given everything to follow Jesus, and those who have not.
A "drag net" was drawn along between two boats or tied on shore at one end and put out by a boat at the other end, which was then drawn to land by ropes. "All kinds of fish" refers to "good" and "bad" fish (v. 48). The word "bad" can mean "decayed," but here it simply means "worthless." In the parable itself, "good" and "bad" fish have no moral overtones but refer simply to fish ceremonially suitable and large enough for eating and those for some reason unacceptable.
From this parable we can deduce that, one day judgment will take place. This will happen when Jesus returns to dispense God's justice and to fully establish his rule. For the moment God has let the world follow it's own way, so that people can say "Where is God?" when they watch the television news and hear of suicide bombers or famine and death. The judgment of Jesus will demonstrate that God is just, sovereign, and fair.
Everyone, living and dead, will appear before God to answer for the way they have lived their life. No-one is good enough for God except Jesus. The only way we can hope to be with God is by being united with Jesus, so he no longer sees us in our sins, but sees Jesus' righteousness in us..
Those who are followers of Jesus and who have lived according to His ways, enabled by His Spirit, will continue in that relationship and more. True believers will receive new, perfect, resurrection bodies. They will be able to spend eternity in praise, worship and service of God
Mere profession of faith is not enough. Jesus said to those who claimed to minister in His name, "I never knew you".
Everything about us will be exposed on judgment day. If someone's treasure has been to follow Christ, rather than the ways of the world, God will honour this. If someone has decided not to follow Jesus God will also honour that, and, when that person stands before Christ they will be banished from God's presence forever.
Judgment will be fair and based upon our response to Jesus, God's treasure growing in someone's life. We are to ensure that we have given up everything of value to follow Christ and be ready for his return.
While on a South Pole expedition, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left a few men on Elephant Island, promising that he would return. Later, when he tried to go back, huge icebergs blocked the way. But suddenly, as if by a miracle, an avenue opened in the ice and Shackleton was able to get through. His men, ready and waiting, quickly scrambled aboard. No sooner had the ship cleared the island than the ice crashed together behind them. Contemplating their narrow escape, the explorer said to his men, "It was fortunate you were all packed and ready to go!" They replied, "We never gave up hope. Whenever the sea was clear of ice, we rolled up our sleeping bags and reminded each other, 'He may come today.'"