The Kingdom Net
If you have ever been fishing, you will definitely be able to relate to this series for the next few weeks. The series is called Hooked and we are going to talk about fishing but not about fishing for fish. I’m sure I will tell you some fish stories and we will talk about things related to fishing like, fishermen, nets, and the wide open sea.
And last week I told you that each series that I am doing this year will fit into at least one of our core values. This series will fit into our core values of Discipleship, Reaching Multiple Generations, Church of All Nations, and Ministry Involvement. By the end of this series you will get a better understanding of each of these values. So, let’s take a look at today’s message.
During Jesus’ time, fishing was a very common and important activity. In fact, many of the original disciples were fishermen, many of Jesus’ parables involve fishing, and the area around the sea of Galilee was where Jesus did the majority of His earthly ministry.
Fishing was an integral piece of New Testament life, and learning to become “fishers of men” was an integral piece of New Testament discipleship. And unless you’ve never been fishing before or never seen a Bass fishing Tournament on ESPN you know that fishing requires patience, skill, mental and physical strength, a willingness to get your hands dirty, and of course the right tools.
And, if you think about it, fishing sounds a lot like ministry. Maybe that is why Jesus made the connection in the gospels. Maybe that is why the metaphors and parables still hold so much value for us today, even though we’re thousands of miles and hundreds of years apart from the original disciples and their communities.
When you most of us think about fishing, we think about one kind of fishing. When we go to the pond, lake or river we usually grab our gear. We grab a pole that already has a hook, weight, and bobber on it, we will grab our tackle box in case something happens while we are out there, and we will get our bait if we are using live bait. But this is not the type of fishing Jesus is talking about in our text today. Jesus is talking about net fishing.
So, what is net fishing? Net fishing is the practice of throwing a large net into the water either from the shore or from a boat and scooping up as many fish as possible in the net as you pull it up. So, if you have your bible go with me to the book of Matthew. I want to read from chapter 13, beginning at verse 47.
47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.
Jesus refers the Kingdom of God to a net here. And when He says this He’s referring to the type of net I just described. But to be even more specific, in this passage he uses the word, sagene, which describes a large drag net. This type of net was “dragged” over the bottom of the sea with the ends of the net drawn in together, trapping everything inside. Once full, the net would be pulled to shore, or on board the fishing boat. So, in Jesus’ example, the kingdom of heaven is like a drag-net in that the kingdom is spread wide and lowered over the earth.
Some versions like ours says “let down into the lake,” and other versions say, “cast or thrown into the sea.” Either way it means the same thing.
Instead of using a singular line or spear to catch fish, which would be more precise, the net was simply thrown or lowered into the water. These people were professionals for the most part. They knew where the best spots were. They would try to throw their nets in those directions. The main idea of this was so that the net would engulf anything in its path.
The sea or lake mentioned here, represents the earth and probably more precisely, humanity. The body of water is representative of all the people in the world.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
That is why the net is so important. God isn’t just wanting a certain kind of trout or snapper. He wants all different kinds of fish. God sent Jesus to redeem the whole world. The Father lowered the gospel net of salvation over the sea and the net is gathering up anything and everything in its path.
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
We read that God’s Kingdom is going to be full of every type of person. From every nation, every tribe, every people group, and every language. We will all be standing around the throne singing praises to God.
That is why Jesus had to use a net for illustration and not just a pole because when you are dragging a net you are collecting everything that the sea has to offer. Every kind of species gets caught in the net. And that is what Heaven will be like, an uncountable multitude. Every tribe, nation, people and language standing before the throne, ready to worship.
This is a beautiful representation of the kind of multi-ethnic end times community we can expect to be a part of as believers. The kingdom, like a drag-net, is gathering up all kinds of people. The righteous, the unrighteous, and everyone in between and eventually it all has to get sorted out.
If you have ever watch the show, “Deadliest Catch”, you know that after they bring in their baskets they have to throw back what isn’t legal.
This past summer, I got to go on the Destin trip with the Royal Rangers. One of the events that we did was we went Deep Sea Fishing. They would drive us two hours out into the Gulf of Mexico, we would fish for two hours, and then they would drive us back. During those two hours of fishing, we were only allowed to keep certain types of fish. Others were out of season or they were too small or they weren’t edible. We would rely on the deck hands to tell us what we could and could not keep. We would throw back what they would call the illegal.
Or if you don’t like fishing think of it like this. I would guess that all of us have that one drawer in the house that collects all the little junk for years. And about every 5 to 6 years you go through that drawer and you make a keep and throw away pile. You are getting rid of the bad junk and keeping the good stuff.
The lesson is the same here. There is going to come a time in history when the contents of the kingdom net needs to be sorted out. Look at verses 49 and 50 of Matthew 13.
49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
What Jesus describes is a harsh reality for those who don’t believe. But it’s also a wake up call to those of us who do believe; we still have time. As long as we’re all in the net together, we still have time to share the gospel with those around us. We still have time to pray and seek salvation in our families, neighbors, co-workers, strangers we meet at the coffee shop, and so on.
But, there will come a time when the final trumpet blasts, and the end of the age comes, when there won’t be any time left. When this happens it will be time for sorting, and that job is up to God, the chief fisherman, the divine creator of the cosmos.
So, I want to make sure that you understand that we are all in this together. And not just us in this church, but our neighbors as well. We have to take the time to tell everyone about Jesus. We have to show people that we care for their soul. We have to show them that God loves them and wants the best for them. We have this information and we have to share it before it is too late.
That is what our job is. We are ambassadors of Christ. We are to join God in spreading the kingdom net by sharing the good news of Jesus. Our job is not to only offer the kingdom to people we see as worthy. Our job is to offer it to as many as possible and let God deal with sorting it all out in the end. That’s God’s job, sorting it all out. He will be faithful in doing His part, we just have to worry about doing our part.
So, the question today is, Will you do your part?
This week that is what I want you to think about. How can you participate in spreading the kingdom net?
That’s a big net and each of us have to do our part.
At the beginning of this message, I shared with you some things that fishing takes. I said that it requires patience, skill, mental and physical strength, a willingness to get your hands dirty, and the right tools.
So, just like fishing, doing our part in this kingdom net is going to require patience. So, where do you need to exercise more patience?
Our part in this kingdom net is going to require skill. So, how can you grow your skills in sharing with others?
Our part in this kingdom net is going to require mental and physical strength. So, we definitely need to pray and ask God to increase our mental and physical ability.
Our part in this kingdom net is going to require us to get our hands dirty. So, humble yourself and get in there and get your hands dirty in serving other people.
Our part in this kingdom net is going to require us to get the right tools. So, if you need to spend a little extra money to get some better tools for the journey, then let me encourage you to do so.
Everyone of you has part to do in this kingdom net, so let’s come together and pray for one another that we do our part.
Can we stand? I want all of us to pray for one another. Can we stretch out across the aisles and pray for each other? Can we lay hands on one another and pray that each one of us uses what God has given us to make a difference in the kingdom net. If you use your prayer language, then pray in that language for each other. God wants to do something amazing in our church. God wants to do something amazing in our community. And God wants to do something amazing in you. Let’s pray.