Day 15 - The Net
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the corrupt.” --Matthew 13:47-48
[This week as we study some of what Jesus taught about His kingdom, I want to first give a disclaimer: A good bit of content for this week’s study has been inspired by the work of Robert Farrar Capon, an author and theologian whose beautiful writing on the kingdom parables is well worth reading. His book The Parables of the Kingdom, a 1985 Zondervan publication would be a good place to start.]
Whenever you read “the kingdom of heaven is like...” in the Bible, it’s a good place to pay attention; these are windows Jesus gave the world to help us understand what He wanted His followers to do and to look like. In this window Jesus used a word that is not found anywhere else in the Bible: sagene in the Greek, which we translate as “net” or “dragnet.” This word in Jesus’s day was used by fisherman who, rather than baiting hooks to lure a specific kind of fish, would cast a wide net that would drag on the bottom of whatever body of water they were fishing to bring up whatever was down there.
Jesus calls His church, the physical representation of His kingdom on earth, to behave in this way. We live in the age when the net is still dragging along indiscriminately gathering everything. An age will indeed come when God will sort out good from evil, but that time has not yet come and it is not the church’s responsibility to serve as judge. Capon remarks, “Jesus didn’t shy away from sinners, so why should the church?” He told His disciples that they would be “fishers of men” not sorters of men, so let’s keep our focus on the task at hand, not God’s responsibility later.
How do you evaluate yourself in light of this parable? If you’re a part of a church, how do you evaluate your church’s ability to gather people indiscriminately?