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The Dragnet


MATTHEW 13:47-50 09 OCTOBER 2022

Today we are going to continue looking at the Parables as the method Jesus used as He taught the Apostles, primarily teaching about the end of time and what the Kingdom of God is like.

If you remember last week, we looked at the Parable of the Hidden Treasure from Matthew 13:44-46. Today we will look at the four verses following that passage. See Matthew 13:47-50 which tells us about the Parable of the Fishnet.

Some of the Parables are recorded in more than one of the Gospel accounts. This parable, however, is only recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew.

It is like the Parable of the wheat and weeds because both of them focus on the coming of the Judgment Day. Although the focus is quite similar, there are differences between the two parables.

In the parable of the weeds, Jesus emphasizes the idea of patience. Patience is not a consideration or an explanation of this parable.

The weed parable mentions the farmer, his servants, and the harvesters. In the parable of the fishnet, only the fishermen and their labor are described.

Weeds are sown into the field after the farmer has planted his crop. But, in the parable of the fishnet, edible and inedible fish are always together in the Lake of Galilee.

The parable of the weeds describes the condition of the field of the present time and the harvest as a future event.

On the other hand, the fishnet parable describes the separating of the fish in the present time.

READ: Matthew 13:47-50

We know that some, if not most, of Jesus’ apostles, were fishermen by trade. When He told them the parable of the fishnet, they clearly understood every detail of the story. Jesus was telling them something they knew everything about. He was, in fact, talking about their livelihood that they were engaged in at the time Jesus called them to follow Him.

One of the best fishing places in the land of Israel was on the northern edge of the Lake of Galilee. Plants were plentiful along the descending waters of the Jordan River and deposited there at its northern inlet.

The plants attract and feed a large, varied fish population. At least 25 native species have been identified in the lake.

The hometown of Peter, Andrew, and Philip was Bethsaida, which means “house of fishing” as we learn from John1:44. Bethsaida was located along the north shore of the Lake of Galilee, east of the Jordan.

Various fishing methods were used in the time of Jesus, but one of the most effective methods was to use the dragnet.

The typical dragnet used at the time would have been 6-7 feet in height and up to 330 feet in length. Corks held up the top of the net while the bottom of the net was weighted down. The fishermen would use several ways to move the dragnet as they went about their work.

Whatever method they used; it would take as many as a half dozen men to accomplish the net’s movement to harvest the fish crop. Some would row the boat; others would cast the net out or draw it back in. Another would beat the water to try to drive the fish into the net.

Their catch was always a mixed one. We might call it “a mixed bag.” Obviously, they couldn’t sort the fish out at the same time they were collecting them in the dragnet.

Some of the catch would contain good fish, edible fish. Some of the catch would consist of inedible fish. The good and the bad. All kinds and sizes.

According to the dietary laws of the Jews, some of the fish were forbidden to be eaten, and considered to be unclean. According to Leviticus 11:10 where the Jewish law is written, fish without fins and scales could not be eaten. These had to be thrown back.

Only fish that were considered marketable were kept. It was not until after the sorting and throwing back was completed that the fishermen knew the volume of the catch.

Now that we know the life of the fishermen at the Lake of Galilee, we need to learn what all this means and why Jesus used this teaching tool.

The parable shows us a picture of the Day of Judgment. The Day of Judgment. The day when time is no more. It is the end of time. And, if time is no more, what happens next? Look again at what is said in Matthew 13:49. – “So shall it be at the end of the world…”

And as Jesus teaches His disciples, He uses a language and examples they understood. His was a highly effective mode of communicating spiritual truths.

This is how it will be at the end of the age. When the end of the age comes, the time has ended, and eternity begins.

Using the very methods, the fishermen used to accomplish their work, Jesus gives an interpretation of the Parable. The angels will come and take out the wicked from among the righteous. They will throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The words Jesus uses here are very much the same as those He spoke concerning the wheat and the tares earlier in this 13th chapter of Matthew, verses 40-42. We see there, also, that the wicked will be thrown into the fiery furnace and the weeping and gnashing of teeth is also the doom of the wicked.

Jesus addresses man’s spiritual destiny, either heaven or hell with symbolic language. We see that in Matthew 13:40-43. There He describes the fate of the unrighteous – thrown into the furnace, weeping, and gnashing their teeth.

But what happens with the righteous ones? Back up again to verse 43 where we find this: “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, He who has ears, let him hear.”

So, to sum up, our understanding of the parable we know that it depicts the fishermen who cast the dragnet, they gather the catch and separate the fish.

As we interpret the parable, the angels come and separate the wicked from the righteous. The wicked are taken out of the multitude of the righteous. The wicked can also be those who confess with their mouths to be of Christ, but in their hearts, they lack true faith in Jesus Christ. These would include those with hardened hearts, shallow Christians, and lovers of what the world has to offer in possessions and pleasures.

Those would be considered as being “in the church, but not of the church.”

We can be assured that it is a terrible thing to be lost.

In a scientific paper written by several men who were presenting certain scientific evidence in several different fields. Their point was that science was not sure of many things. For example, they were not sure exactly what the atomic bomb would do. They were not sure of the consequences of germ warfare. They were not sure about the effects of the birth control pill. Many other things they were not sure about were mentioned as well.

Then one of the scientists said this, “It’s just like the matter of eternity. You may not know whether there is a heaven or a hell, but you had better make sure that you are going to heaven because even if you happen to be wrong, you will be all right. But if you are wrong, it is surely going to be bad.

And our Lord made it absolutely clear that it is indeed going to be unbelievably bad if we have not made our preparations to be among those separated to be in eternity with our Lord.

As we close let’s look at how we, as Christians are expected to conduct our lives. We must go about our daily tasks; witness to our neighbors, whoever, or wherever they may be. Urge them to come to worship; constantly remind them of their need of saving faith and repentance of sin. Make them aware of the coming of the Judgment Day, and that on that day there will be a separation of the wicked and the righteous

As we witnessed just last week, a hurricane hit the state of Florida. We don’t live in a hurricane-prone area. So, what if were warned one day that a hurricane was headed our way – here in Indiana? Would our response be something like – “That’s crazy. Hurricanes don’t hit inland areas. They predict these storms all the time. Most times nothing comes of it. I’m not going to make any preparations. I will take my chances.”

It will be too bad if we are wrong. The same situation happens with people who are confronted with the Gospel and the possibility of being thrown into the furnace of hell.

Jesus makes it very clear when He says: ”The angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

So many people are willing to take the chance that there is no heaven or hell.

We can go to the Hebrews letter (Hebrews 9:27-28) in the New Testament to see an immensely powerful statement of the final judgment: “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face the judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people.”

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