47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
51 Jesus said to them, “Have you understood all these things?”
They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”
52 Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”
Matthew 13:47-52, NKJV
Parable of the Dragnet
As Jesus continued speaking with the disciples, he again used a very common illustration in this parable to teach them a profound and sobering Biblical truth. Several of the disciples were fishermen so they certainly understood the concept of casting out a net into the sea and dragging in fish. Were fish the only thing caught in their nets? No, often other debris or unwanted fish were also caught in the net. The contents of the net were spilled into the boat where the fishermen quickly separated the good fish from the unwanted fish and other debris.
Jesus told the disciples that the angels, like the fishermen, would have the job of separating the wicked from among the just at the end of the age.
Three things come to mind to me as I think of this parable. First, we are reminded that God does not separate the wicked from the just right now--that will not happen until the end of the age. Second, the job of separating the wicked from the just has not been given to us. Thirdly, the time will come when God will separate the wicked and the just. Only the true believers will be ushered into heaven to live with Christ forever.
As believers, God has given to us the task of living among the people of this world. Even in the church, though all may profess to believe, often there are those who are worshiping with the true believers who do not actually have faith in Christ. Why does God allow this? God commands that we separate from the world in our thinking and in the goals we have for this life. No longer should we, as believers, be consumed by the things of this world, but rather, we should be seeking to learn more and more about Christ. By God's grace, we should be seeking the things above--the things of heaven--rather than the things of this earth. But, we are left to live among the people of this world that we might be a testimony to them of God's working in our hearts and lives.
Second, as we consider our task while on this earth, it is not our job to separate the wicked from the just. Because we do not know the heart of man, that would be an impossible task for us. Only God knows our hearts, and therefore, only God, through His angels, can correctly separate the righteous from the wicked. Let us, then, pray for our friends, neighbors, and relatives that Christ would be known to them, but let us not be overly consumed with the goal of trying to identify God's true people from those who truly do not love Him.
May we remember the third teaching from this parable. Christ will return, time will end, and the righteous and wicked will be separated forever. God, who alone can look on the true heart of man, will righteously separate the wicked for punishment, and the righteous will live with Him forever. Let us not take the long-suffering of Christ as an excuse to believe that Christ will not actually return. He will, indeed, return, and when He does, time will cease forever.
These are sobering thoughts. What profound truths Jesus taught to His disciples by using such simple illustrations as in the parable of the dragnet. May we, in this the 21st century, take these same parables to heart and apply their truths to our hearts and lives today.
We may pretend that we are true believers and deceive our fellow man, but Christ knows our heart of hearts. May our hearts be pure before Him. Only Christ can take a heart of stone and turn it into a heart of flesh. Let us turn to Him today so that at the end of the age He will say to us, "Welcome, my good and faithful servant."
God Bless You,