Dave spoke this morning from Matt 13:47-50, another of the short parables of Jesus which reminds us there will come a day of judgment when the righteous and unrighteous will be separated. A parable about nets to a group of people for whom fishing was a daily reminder of life must have resonated with local people. There were different types of fishing practised in the area (using a line and hook as mentioned in Matt 17:24 or one person using a net), but a common type of fishing was to use a dragnet, where two or more men would use the net to collect fish. In this parable, we see all kinds of fish were collected in this manner and these would be separated (good from bad) later on.
Jesus spoke much about judgment and hell (see Matt 8:12, Matt 23:33, Mark 3:29, John 5:29) and it is necessary for us to take this subject seriously. Jesus said, ‘If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.‘ (Mark 9:23) The reality of hell and judgment was something Jesus spoke about frequently, stressing that what is required is a response now to God’s open invitation to repent and be born again (see John 3:16-21). God does not want anyone to go to hell (see 2 Pet 3:9, Ezek 18). He offers us a way to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:20-21), but we need to have ears that hear God’s warnings. Not only is it imperative that we follow God on the narrow path that leads to eternal life, it is also imperative that we take this message of reconciliation and hope to the world which is largely ignorant of and indifferent to God’s ways.