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All of human history is moving toward a goal that God has ordained for his creation. Generally speaking, from the time of Jesus there are four major events.
(1) The coming of God’s kingdom in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
(2) An interval of unknown length. We are living “between the times,” when the kingdom has already arrived with the ministry of Jesus, but the coming of the Son of Man is yet to appear.
We pray, “Your kingdom come,” to welcome both the present and completed rule of God over all creation.
(3) Judgment and vindication of Jerusalem and Israel. Judgment came upon Israel in 70 AD as they were defeated by Rome.
The history of Jewish people has been one of the most painful to witness in all of history.
Paul writes in the Letter to the Romans 9-11 that God will vindicate Israel. The discussion is long and complicated, but two verses summarize God’s activity.
“I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11.25-26).
(4) God’s final act will be to gather to himself people who have lived in a relationship with him and to judge those who have refused God’s love.
Many of Jesus’ parables focused on this final stage to warn people of future judgment. In fact, there are approximately 14 separate references to judgment in the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew alone.
The Parable of the Net
The parable of the Net is part of a collection of parables in Matthew 13 that each build upon the other.
— Matthew 13.36-43 – The explanation of the parable of the Wheat and the Weeds answers the question: “If the kingdom of God is present, why is evil so prevalent in the world?”
— Matthew 13.44-46 – The parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price reveal the extreme value of living as citizens in God’s kingdom.
— Matthew 13.47-50 – The parable of the Net is a warning to people to not neglect the great treasure that is the kingdom of God.
Jesus told the parable like this: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad” (Luke 13.47-48).
Jesus, then, explained the parable: “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13.49-50).
A Message of Judgment
Jesus did not shrink away from speaking about judgment. If humans didn’t have a problem, he never would have come to earth on a rescue mission.
I often quote from Abraham’s prayer, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Genesis 18.25), because it reveals so much about God and justice.
God is the Judge of all the earth. Whatever judgment we receive for our actions will be perfectly just.
In addition, we know that whatever judgment we receive will come from the most loving Being of all.
However, we do not want to be like the “fool” in Psalm 14 and believe that God will do nothing about how we oppress and harm other people.
The Bible is clear, there will be an accounting for our behavior. People will be separated like wheat from weeds or fish in a net.
The Basis of Judgment
John the Baptist stated quite clearly God’s standard of judgment. Let’s analyze his words.
— Matthew 3.8 – “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.”
Like the pearl merchant in the parable of the Pearl of Great Price, when we discover something of great value, it will make a significant difference in our attitudes and actions.
— Matthew 3.9 – “Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.”
Judgment is based on behavior, not our heritage or profession of faith. This is the consistent message of the entire Bible.
A relationship with Jesus will change our attitudes and actions. We can gauge our relationship by what we do.
John spoke these words as a warning to the crowds. We should receive them as a warning and make sure that our behavior aligns with the will of God.
— Matthew 3.10 – “Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Judgment involves a separation. Not everyone will be treated the same on judgment day.
Judgment is based on how we have responded to the amazing opportunity to live a Jesus-kind-of-life in God’s kingdom.
Judgment will be just and delivered by the most loving Being of all. Still, there will be judgment and the separation of people based on the way they have responded to Jesus.
Application of the Parable
I don’t like talking about judgment and I doubt if Jesus enjoyed it either. However, Jesus spoke about judgment after almost every one of his major discourses, according to Matthew.
The message of judgment makes parables like the Treasure in the Field and the Pearl of Great Price more significant to people.
One one hand, there is this amazing offer. We are given an opportunity to live the kind of life that the Greatest Being to walk the face of the earth has for us.
We are blessed to be his friend, to receive his guidance, and have his power working through us.
On the other hand, if the blessings of God’s kingdom don’t draw us into that kind of life, possibly the idea of judgment will. Jesus told parables to challenge us, shock us, and confront us to change our behavior.
If the idea of God’s blessings won’t change us, possibly the potential of judgment will.
Let’s make the right choice and begin enjoying the blessings of living a friends and followers of Jesus.
About This Blog
Klyne Snodgrass has devoted 12 years of study to produce the book, Stories With Intent. His book is recognized as the best book on the parables in print. I am indebted to Dr. Snodrass’ work that helps shape my articles.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and so will the prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church.