The Postscript – 12/11/17
Yesterday at Baltimore Bible Church Pastor George preached on the final parable of Matthew 13. Each of the five parables in this chapter teaches a different aspect of the kingdom. The parable of the soils teaches of the rejection of the Kingdom. The wheat and the tares describe the resistance to the Kingdom. The small size, yet powerful nature of the Kingdom are taught in the parable of the Mustard Seed. The pearl of great price teaches the immeasurable value of the Kingdom. And finally, the parable of the Dragnet teaches the inescapable nature of the Kingdom:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Have you understood all these things?” They said to Him, “Yes.” And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”
This final parable is a warning to everyone who rejects or opposes the Kingdom of God. There are four aspects of it to consider.
1) The Great Catch
A dragnet was one of many fishing techniques used in the ancient world. It had the ability to catch everything in a given area, resulting in a large catch. Everything in that section of the sea would be caught up in this large net (sometimes as large as half a a mile in area). “At the end of the age,” as the text says, everyone will be gathered up. There is no escape from the reckoning that will come.
The vividness and relevance of Jesus’ teaching is on full display here. If we think back to the beginning of Matthew 13, Jesus delivered these teachings from a boat (and almost certainly a fishing boat). It’s not a stretch to imagine fishing nets literally at his fingertips as he taught the people seated on shore using a metaphor that couldn’t have been clearer to his audience.
2) The Great Separation
Because every kind of fish was caught up in the dragnet they had to be sorted, good from bad. There were many kinds of fish in the Sea of Galilee, but only some were eaten. The net would also bring up dead fish, plants, and any rubbish that might have been there. Not only will everyone be caught in the net of the Kingdom, but everyone will be sorted, just like the fish. Though it sometimes seems like the evil get away with their sin, there is no escape from the accounting to come.
3) The Great Analogy
Where would those inedible, dead, or unusable fish end up? The trash heap. There was absolutely no use for these fish and they were thrown out. The picture Jesus paints of the Great Separation is eternally more grim, however. The angels will remove the wicked, and cast them into the great furnace. Jesus describes a real hell, with real fire, and real, eternal torment.
4) The Great Responsibility
Jesus concludes by reminding His disciples of the grave responsibility they had to preach the reality of Hell. To be Christlike we must teach like Christ did, and no one taught on Hell more than He did. To truly preach the Good News of eternal life, the bad news of an eternity of torment must be faithfully taught as well.