Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Parable of the Fishing Net

Matthew 13:47-50

47 Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. 48 When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. 49 That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, 50 throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

S - Scripture
47 Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind.
O - Observation
Jesus gives a beautiful vision for the Church: "fish of every kind." The Greek word for net is sagene. This is a large rectangular net with cords on all four corners. It is also known as a drag net. The net was literally dragged by people from near the shore to the shore. At the harvest on the shore, the good fish were put into containers and the undesirable fish were discarded.
The nature of the net is that it does not and cannot discriminate. It collects everything is its path. God's vision for the church is the same. The church that reflects the Kingdom of God does not discriminate. It accepts the useful and the useless, the big and the small, the good and the bad, the sinner and the saint.
The nature of God at the end of this parable is consistent with the nature of God in The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30). This parable is a reminder that Jesus was not a universalist and that some people will end up in heaven and others will end up in hell. Jesus paints a picture of hell as a fiery, where there will be weeping and the gnashing of teeth.
A - Application
It is important to note the job descriptions in this parable. The fisherman's job description is to cast the net and bring in the fish. God's job description is to sort at the harvest.
The first application for the church, God's instrument for the Kingdom of Heaven in the world, is to cast the net. Not just to people of similar interests, but to everybody. The challenge is to love people into a relationship with God through the work of the local church. This will make us uncomfortable at times. This will most likely take us out of our comfort zone. This challenges to embrace people we may not normally embrace. This will also make us faithful. And that is a good thing.
The second, related, application is to leave the judging to God. And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3)
The twofold mission of the church becomes evident in this short parable: To bring the Kingdom to people and to lead people to the Kingdom.
P - Prayer
God, I pray that you will use me to cast nets that don't discriminate. Help me to see people through your eyes and express love, forgiveness, and grace in Your name. Amen.

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