The parable starts in Matthew 13:47 and goes to verse 50.
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some fish of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
When He was on earth, Jesus said that the Kingdom had come near. Jesus was stressing that the Kingdom of God was not something to be searched out, but that it was close at hand. The Gospel of Jesus is that everyone has an opportunity to participate in God’s Kingdom. We are all born into the Kingdom of Satan, and need to be re-born into God’s Kingdom. I will talk more about this in Chapter 30.
Before telling this short parable, Jesus had been talking about the Kingdom of God. He had been teaching on a series of things about His Kingdom. First, He spoke about the parable of the tares and the weeds. A farmer went out to sow seeds. He came out a couple of days later and there were tares. There were weeds growing amongst his wheat. He then waited for the tares and the wheat to grow fully. Then, at that time, he sent in harvesters to rip out the weeds and to throw them into the fire. The harvesters then gathered the wheat. In this parable, the world that we live in is the field. The wheat that is grown is the people who have become Christians. The tares are the people in the world who hear the message of the Gospel, but remain hardened to it and do not grow up into maturity and bring good fruit. Everyone is given the opportunity, but some people do not become Christians because they refuse to accept God’s only way of salvation. They are absolutely convinced that they can win favor with God by their own effort.
Then Jesus goes on and says the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field that a man finds. He goes and sells everything he has, to possess that one treasure: to buy the field. Jesus is alluding there, that the Kingdom of God can be preached to a person, regardless of where they live on earth. Today this is certainly true, The Kingdom of God is preached right around the world, by way of radio and television satellite stations. It is each person’s choice whether or not to enter the Kingdom of God or to remain outside.
Through the parable of the treasure, we see that you cannot enter the Kingdom of God with one “haphazard” decision! It must be a decision that carries some weight. Anyone who makes a decision to follow Christ, without considering the need to forsake their sinful lifestyle, is a person whose faith does not last for long. They are open to the lies of the devil and they continually struggle in their walk with God: they themselves give up. The people of the world are given an opportunity and they need to understand that they must give their new found faith everything they have.
Jesus goes on in verse 45 to say that the Kingdom of God is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who when he had found a perfect specimen, went and sold all that he had to order to purchase that one pearl. This pearl is Jesus Christ. This trader was collecting pearls. In the world, people collect sports, hobbies, careers, religions, philosophies, fame, power whatever! These are all worldly ambitions but in the end they don’t count. Jesus states clearly in John 14:6 that “He is the way, the truth and the light and no man comes to the Father except through Him.” So in a way, when you decide to follow Christ, you must give all these other things over to the Holy Spirit to judge and to sort out, for some of these pursuits will hinder your from following Jesus.
In this parable, the Kingdom of Heaven as likened to a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some fish of every kind. The dragnet is the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. You remember when Peter was told to lay down the net on the shore? He laid it down and caught so many fish that it almost broke the net. Jesus was alluding to some greater meaning here. In the Gospel, He said Peter would become a fisher of men. This is what this parable means. The dragnet here is the Gospel going out on TV, on radio, through Christian’s lives witnessing to other people. The dragnet is the Gospel: “the almost too good to be true news,” going out to the world.
It says that the dragnet caught fish. When it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels but the bad they threw away. In other words, the Gospel is preached to every person and they hear it. Everyone hears the message that Jesus Christ was sent by God to be our Savior. He is the one you need to submit to. There is no purpose in life without Him. Everyone is told that message, so you can say that the dragnet, the Gospel, catches all the fish. Now, the fish who don’t transform into any resemblance of the Master; their lives don’t reflect any noticeable change whatsoever, they are the bad fish. This means, they never did surrender to the Master in the first place! So they are discarded as not being worthy of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus is totally fair because He can read a person’s heart. Therefore, He is never deceived by outward show. Are you a person who believes that you don’t need Jesus because you are totally content with your present situation? You have found true happiness and just love your comfortable life and you enjoy all the fruits of your labor. That seems to be good now, but the Bible warns us that to enter Heaven you must be perfect, not just happy. Jesus Christ alone is perfect. If you don’t have His Spirit in you, then you will not meet the entry requirements, no matter how good or happy you have been on earth.
There are many types of people in the world. One time Jesus was warning us about false prophets. These are people who say they are born-again, but they are not! Jesus said in Matthew 7:15-20, “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”
We are not saved because of our works, but “good works” are the natural fruit of salvation. Good works come from faith in Jesus. But faith in God, without good works is dead! Faith in God can mean anything! Ask anyone do they believe in God and they will say “Of course!” Bear in mind: even the devil believes in God, but that’s not going to save him. When we are saved the type of good works that are pleasing to God will always follow our true faith.
The people who share the Gospel come with that message. “Are you suffering? Are you tired? Do you have a meaningless life? Do you have a life without purpose? Jesus is pleading, “Come to Me, the living Son of God, who came to earth and lived a life of purpose and miraculous power. Come to Me.”
Jesus is fair: He wants everyone to understand His message of salvation! Are you caught in sin and despair? “Come to Me!” Jesus says. Are you satisfied in life without Jesus? “You are deceived, come to Me! I am the one who holds your future in My hands. I am the one who knows your deepest fears. I created you, I gave My life for you, and I love you just as you are. Come to Me all who are weary with life and who have heavy burdens. All who are weighed down with the burdens of the world, come to Me” (Matthew 11:28).
So the Gospel goes out to the people. It is God’s love message to us, the Good News. It goes out to all of the people. Some of them hear the message, but reject it and continue to be sinners, whether they realize it or not. They continue on in their sin of unbelief.
Not everyone always does bad things: there are more people who do good things. They fall in love; they make money and achieve success. Many Christians are very successful, but in financial matters, people in the world seem to have the monopoly. They can even seem to have better families. They can seem to share more love. When Jesus talks about the wicked here, He is not saying that everything they do is wrong. What Jesus is referring to in wickedness here, is a person who has been given the opportunity to become Christ-like and a spiritually fulfilled person, but blatantly refuses to.
So, this casting out of the net and sorting out the good from the bad is an image of what is going to happen at the end of the world. At the end of the age, when the Father says it is time, the angels will come forth and separate the wicked from among the just. They will come and take all the people off the face of earth. Those who have not decided to follow Jesus, those who have heard the message like this and have decided: “No, I am not going to submit my life” or, “No, I am not going to sell all my precious things to possess Jesus Christ” or, “No, I am not going to give away my philosophies and my other religious ideas in order to embrace the faith of Jesus Christ.” Those people who have been given the opportunity are going to be cast into Hell and that is an abominable place to end up in! (See Chapter 33 of this book.)
So, what is the application? It is the job of believers to cast that net out to the world. It’s our job to be a light on a hill. It is our job to be good and faithful to people, to love them, forgive them, to treat them with integrity and compassion. It’s our job to tell a person the reason why we do such things. When they ask why, it is our job to say, “It’s not me. It is Christ in me. It is the fact that Jesus loves me. I act this way because Jesus has changed my attitude about life. Do you want to know Jesus? Do you want to change as I have?”
It is as simple as that! The Holy Spirit needs to live inside of you. He then empowers you to change. If you try to change in your own strength, then you will fail miserably and will not please God. All you need to do: is to go out into the world and shine out Jesus to others, as the Holy Spirit leads you. Dare to be different! Be kind and treat others like you would like them to treat you.
Be the most diligent worker in your job. Be the most conscientious and loyal worker your boss has ever had! Take the time to help others when they need help. If you can do a job well, teach others. Help other people become more creative to assist productivity. Whatever you are good at, help other people with it. Not everyone has to preach the Gospel to bring salvation. You are part of the dragnet. You are one of the people that Jesus depends on to save this world, to give God’s message and to expose the lies of the devil. Will you do it? People are heading for a lost eternity. Love them!
The reason for this parable is not just to understand that at some time in the future, Jesus is going to come back and bring the Christians to Heaven and send the non-Christians to Hell. The reason Jesus told this parable is: He needs you to cast that net out into the world. He needs you to be part of that net.
You know, a net is made up of many strings all sewn together. Not a few strings can make a net, but many strings bonded and held together: the bigger the net that goes out, the more fish that can be brought in. In a little African village, they only throw a little net out by hand. They catch a few fish. Out in the ocean, fishermen throw massive nets out into the water and they catch heaps more fish.
You need to be part of that net. You need to go out and share your love. You need to get this article—this chapter—and send it to a friend. Go and do your part. Fulfill this parable. God bless you.