The Day is Coming
Parable of the Net, Mt 13:47-50
I have an
opportunity to go to
There are great spiritual needs and opportunities as people are looking for comfort, for hope, for answers.
At a training meeting, one pastor pointed out how the church never looks as good as when it responds in action and compassion to needs like this. And I’m thankful for an opportunity to be a part of it.
I also think it’ll be a great opportunity for me to meet different kinds of people, see different kinds of needs outside these Emmanuel walls.
I appreciate your prayers.
If you’ve been with us the last couple months, we were going through a series of Jesus’ Kingdom Parables in Mt 13, then we took a little detour to look at the parables of Lk 15 (lost sheep, lost coin, the lost son), and now I want to come back to Mt 13 and pick up the last of the 7 parables.
I remember as a kid my uncle took us and my cousins fishing. I had never gone fishing before, so it was something of an adventure for me. I don’t remember actually catching anything, but I do remember sometimes after one of us caught a fish, my uncle would help unhook the fish, and then sometimes, if the fish were too small, he’d throw the fish back into the lake. And as a kid, that seemed so pointless!
That’s kind of the scene we have in this parable.
A fisherman goes out and lets down his net and catches all kinds of fish.
In Jesus’ day fishermen would sometimes use dragnets, with floaters and sinkers to stretch the net wide and catch all kinds of fish.
Afterward they would sort out the fish. Some would be too small, or would be unclean for Jews to eat. Others were “clean” and large enough. They’d separate out the “edible” fish from the “unedible.” It was a very familiar scene.
Maybe today, Jesus might have said, The Kingdom of Heaven is like a guy who goes to his computer and checks his email. In comes dozens and dozens of emails. He looks through his inbox and separates the good email from the junk email. The junk emails he then deletes and the good email he keeps.
Jesus said the net caught “all kinds of
fish.” The original word “genus” is more
commonly used for “race” or “tribe.” It
usually used to refer to kinds of people, not fish. The
What struck me about this parable isn’t so much what it said, but how much it is emphasized.
In Mt 13 alone, this parable of the Net corresponds very closely to the parable of the wheat and the weeds. This parable doesn’t add a whole lot more to what’s already been said.
In both there will be a separation of the wheat and the weeds, the good fish and the bad fish, and in both, the wicked are “thrown into a fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (42, 50). Judgment Day is coming.
This judgment is implied throughout this chapter. There are basically two kinds of people:
Those who produce fruit, and those who don’t
The wheat and the weeds
Those who’ve found the treasure and those who haven’t
The good fish from the bad fish
There is clear distinction between who a Kingdom Citizen is and isn’t.
In a world of greys, the Bible uses stark black-and-whites. In a post-modern world of no absolutes, the Bible not only claims absolutes, but says there are eternal consequences to those absolutes.
This is not a matter of opinion or preference. This is a God, there is a heaven, and there is a hell. Jesus is saying, either you’re a kingdom citizen, or you’re not, either you’re a wheat or a weed, a good fish or a bad fish, and there will be a sorting of these two groups. This is not politically correct language or inclusive language, but it’s what Jesus is saying.
I’d like to point out not just that this is said, but that this is emphasized.
Throughout the Gospel of Matthew, there is this language of the day of judgment.
I tell you the truth,
it will be more bearable for
But I tell you, it will be more
But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. (Mt 12:36)
The men of
There are other passages that refer to this day of judgment without using those words (Mt , )
I’d like us to turn to Mt 24-25; it’s all about the End, the Day of Judgment
Signs of the End of the Age
Jesus talks about how difficulties and dangers will come at the end of the age. There will be famines, earthquakes, violence, wickedness, persecution and false teachers.
The Day and the Hour Unknown
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (24:42)
Always be ready. He’ll return like “a thief in the night.”
Chapter 25 has 3 parables about the Judgment: 10 Virgins, Talents, Sheep & Goat
Basically, the Parable of the 10 Virgins is telling us we need to always be ready, even if we have to wait a long time.
The Parable of the Talents says we need to be faithful, we need to be serving the master and advancing his cause. And there’s judgment for those who have shown they are not faithful servants of the master.
The Parable of the Sheep and Goat says again, there will be a judgment, and the basis of that judgment is on what you did or did not do.
Chapter 25, with these 3 parables, ties with Mt 13, with at least this connection. It starts with:
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.”
Maybe we’ve forgotten, maybe we don’t really think about it.
Kingdom Citizens live in light of that coming Day. It defines their reality: they think about it, they prepare for it, they live their lives with the perspective that the Judgment Day is coming. It brings focus and perspective to their lives.
This parable was preached, not to the general public, but to Jesus’ disciples. This message is for believers.
It is a bigger emphasis in Scripture than it is in our own lives. We act like there is no judgment day. It doesn’t make a big difference in our lives.
In some graduate classes, there are no assignments, no quizzes, there’s just one final exam. Some students go through their classes specifically mindful of the final exam. They listen to lecture and read their assignments with the perspective that the final exam will come.
Some atheletes practice with the understanding that the championship tournament is coming. They will have to compete with the very best. They will be tested.
Some parents raise their kids knowing that their kids will one day leave home. One day Dad and Mom won’t be there to guide or protect them. One day that kid will face his own challenges and make his own decisions, and they raise their kids seeing that coming Day.
Kingdom Citizens have that kind of perspective. They see beyond today. They see that Christ is coming back and a Day of Judgment will come.
I can’t say I’ve heard too many sermons about Judgment Day, but I’d like to suggest that there is a lot of benefit from understanding and meditating on this impending reality. Meditating on the reality of the Day of Judgment, there will be a separation.
In the parable of the wheat and weeds, I believe Jesus (addressing his disciples, then and here) was trying to comfort and encourage his disciples, who will suffer for Christ for a season.
Friday, Friday them forces that oppress the poor and keep people down, them forces that destroy people, them forces are in control and they’re going to rule. But they don’t know. It’s only Friday. Friday. Sunday’s a coming.
Friday, Friday people are saying, “Darkness is going to rule the world, sadness is going to be everywhere.” But they don’t know, it’s only Friday, Sunday’s a coming.
There is comfort for the righteous. The wicked may seem to have the day today, but this day will end and a new one will come. There’s another chapter to the story.
I saw articles about how some politicians and businesses are getting big government contracts in the post-Katrina clean up and recovery work. 60 some billions dollars have already been approved, and some companies and politicians are cashing in big. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a coming.
There’s a big threat for some terrorist activity in the NT subways system earlier this week. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a coming.
We’re bombarded with media and entertainment that preaches materialism and comfort, and sometimes its really hard to follow Christ, to go the narrow road. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a coming.
Mt 13 presumes that life will be hard for the followers of Christ today. The weeds attack, the righteous suffer. Earth has so much it seems to offer. Remember, the Day is coming. Christ is coming back. The followers of Jesus will be separated and taken home—so stand firm!
There is a judgment for the wicked, but there is also a judgment for the righteous.
We want to be clear that we believe that because of Jesus, we are forgiven, we are declared righteous. On the judgment day, God will see us white as snow, completely acceptable and loved. There is no condemnation, no fear.
Yet, there is another sense in which we also will be judged.
The interesting thing is that many times, this warning of judgment day is directed to believers. And believers are to live with that mindset.
There is a sense of reward for the righteous. It matters how we live. Is there fruit in our lives?
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Cor )
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. (Eph 6:7-8)
Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. [addressed to believers] ()
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. ()
It matters how we live. For believers, our judgment has no condemnation. Rather, for us, our judgment is about our reward.
And we are to be motivated by this hope of reward, by this future judgment day.
It matters if we give a cup of water in Jesus’ name.
It matters if we run the race to win the prize.
It matters if we’re faithful with the talents God has given us.
I want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
It matters if feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the imprisoned
If we knew Katrina was going to hit and the levees were going to break, wouldn’t we do something! So when Rita came, how much less the devestation.
Something far more widespread and devastating is coming. And the Church has the early warning that the end of the age is coming, that the Judgment day is coming.
There will be a judgment, there is a heaven and there is a hell.
If you don’t know Christ, I want to be gentle but clear: we believe there is a judgment, and the only thing that matters then is whether you really are a good fish and not a bad fish, whether you are a Kingdom Citizen or not.
It’s not about being a good person, doing good things, it’s about finding Jesus.
The only thing that separates the good fish from the bad fish is whether you trust in Jesus, whether you say, “Jesus I need you to forgive me of my sins, to take away my guilt and shame. Jesus, I believe that you love me, that you willingly offered yourself to die in my place. And so now Lord, I love you. I trust you. I follow you.”
Kingdom Citizens aren’t necessarily more righteous, more moral, more religious. They simply cling to Jesus. Their righteousness comes from Jesus.
I have a cousin who was in the marines at the time of the war in
And for those of us who believe that, there is an urgency to tell others.
We’ve been saying, people matter to God. God is chasing the lost sheep, on his hands and knees looking for the lost coin, running toward his prodigal son.
The day is coming. We need to live like we believe that.
We’re going home. Don’t lose focus, don’t get discouraged. Press on.
Be found faithful. It matters how we live.
Bring others to the Kingdom as well. We’ve got to tell.