Today, we are wrapping up the sermon series “Kingdom Treasure” where we have been searching through the Bible and discovering deep spiritual truths that help us live into the Kingdom of God here on earth.
Week one, we learned that the Kingdom is worth any price, and that no matter what we have to give up to live in relationship with Jesus, it is worth it. Week two, we learned that God’s Kingdom starts small, but grows to make a major impact in the world around us. Week three, we discovered that when the Kingdom of God or the Gospel seed is planted in the hearts of faithful Christians, it takes root and produces a wonderful harvest in them and through them.
Today, we are going to take a look at one more Kingdom treasure that helps us experience the full life of God. The imagery that Jesus uses in this passage is one that my family loves to do and one that I’ve done my fair share of.
When I was a kid, the first day of trout season was a day I looked forward to. My dad and my grandfather would take my sister and I out on a row boat on Laurel Lake in Pine Grove Furnace State Park. It was a tradition my dad and grandfather started when my sister and I were pretty young and continued to do throughout our teenage years. We would leave the house early in the morning before day break, bundled up ready for the cold air on the lake water. We would pile up in my grandfathers old Chevy truck, standard H on the column, with the boat and all our gear in the back.
I have vivid memories of our time on that lake fishing. Finding the right fishing holes, what bait would work that day – worms, minnows, power bait, corn. When you go fishing, you go with one goal in mind: to catch as many fish as possible or at least to catch your limit. I typically didn’t care what kind of fish was taking my bait, just as long as I am catching something to take back home and show Nanny and mom. Usually, the key to successful fishing is being in the right place at the right time and making sure you are presenting something that fish want. That’s the way to catch as many fish as possible. In this next parable in the book of Matthew…
POINT #1 – GOD IS A FISHERMAN
Jesus gives us another parable explaining what the Kingdom of God is like. There are multiple instances where Jesus is trying to give understanding of what God’s work in the world is like and how we can be a part of it. And once again, Jesus is speaking to a large group of people, and here’s what He said.
47 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. 48 When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. 49 That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, 50 throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51 Do you understand all these things?”
Jesus presents God as a master fisherman. One whose goal for His Kingdom, just like a net, is to catch as many people, like fish, as possible. Though today, most of us fish with a rod and reel, the people in the ancient near east had a very different approach to fishing. They used a large net to gather as many fish as possible. The net would be weighted so it would slip beneath the water, and while working as a team, many men would haul up the catch into the boats.
When Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is like a net, this is the imagery He is pulling from. God’s Kingdom is not some little hook and bobber trying to entice a single bite. It’s a massive net that can hold a ton of fish. The fish that are being talked about in this Kingdom treasure are people. This is because God cares about rescuing as many people as possible from the destructive power of sin and welcoming them into an eternity with Him in His Kingdom.
There’s a very important part of the story that Jesus shares in verse 47. This Kingdom net is placed in the water to catch all kinds of fish. The separating of the catch takes place later. At this stage, it’s about getting as many fish into the net as possible. The reason this is such an important part is that it’s a reminder that God desires all people to come to Him. He sent Jesus to earth to rescue the world, not just certain people. There is no picking and choosing who is in and who is out when the net goes down; everyone is welcome.
When you look at a net, it looks like it’s made up of one continuous piece of string that is woven together to make a tool that can catch fish. However, a net is actually made up of many pieces of string or rope that are tied together to make the net strong enough to catch many fish.
You see, the Kingdom of God is made up of people just like you and me. Each person who has decided to follow Jesus and trust God with their life is a different strand that can be woven together to make a way to reach others who are far from God. When individuals in the Church work together to share God’s love through friendship, service, invitation, and love, God is literally fishing for souls.
However, many of us are guilty of only spending time with people who look like us, think like us, vote like us, and act like us. When we do this, we have missed one of the fundamental truths about God’s Kingdom. God’s Kingdom is like a net that is let down and catches all kinds of fish. It’s an open invitation to come and experience God’s love.
When we go to the Servants Work Camp, we never know who we will be doing work for. We don’t know their lifestyle, their back story, if they are a believer or not. The people are not connected to a church or to Servants in any way. They are random people who reach out to Servants looking for help. One of the main goals at the work camp is not to just get the work done, in fact, they tell us it’s okay if we don’t get it done, because what they want us to do is focus on building a relationship with the home owner as well.
Not knowing what you’re getting into or what this person is going to be like can be a bit uncomfortable. Especially if you’ve not done this before. We are going out and meeting total strangers, hoping they like the work we do, but even more importantly, hoping we can share the love of Jesus with them. And yes, sometimes that means literally sharing the Gospel story with them for the first time.
But what I’ve noticed each year is that once we break the ice with the home owner, either I or someone starts to talk and listen to the person, the others in the group start to be inspired and open up to the home owner as well. What we have found is that sharing God’s love with someone who is different from you ends up leading to beautiful relationships.
Jesus’ parable is focused on the relentless work of catching people for God, because at the end of the passage there is a sorting that takes place. “Do you understand this?” Jesus says. On the shore is where this massive number of fish is either placed in a basket to be kept or thrown away. The fish that are kept are like the souls of those who respond to the overwhelming love, grace, and forgiveness offered by God. These individuals will live with God for all eternity and their sin will be washed away.
But other fish will be thrown away. This represents the souls of those people who reject the offer of salvation given to them by God. And in rejecting His Kingdom, they will spend eternity without Him. “The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, 50 throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” So we need to…
POINT #2 – FISH LIKE SOMEONE’S LIFE DEPENDS ON IT
Jesus chose ordinary fishermen to turn the world upside down who likely asked the same question you are. What do you have to offer? But God is looking for people that can swing a hammer to meet a need for someone else. He is looking for someone who has never met a stranger to share their story of saving grace. He is looking for someone who has financial resources to fund missional projects in our communities. He is looking for someone who can bake a casserole for a family who just lost a loved one.
You don’t have to have seminary training or the Bible memorized, you just have to care about the lives of people so that you will fish in your own unique way, like someone’s life depends on it.
This parable feels like a harsh lesson that Jesus is giving; however, you have to remember that God desires to save the world, not to condemn it. The Bible says…
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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
2 Peter 3:9
9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
God is patient in His offering of grace. Just like a good fisherman, God waits for us to respond to His offer of love. He offers us salvation through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. That offer is on the table, and it never expires. It’s yours if you want it right here, right now.
Jesus Himself uses this Kingdom-treasure principle when He recruits His followers in the Bible. As Jesus is walking along the Sea of Galilee, which would have been full of fishermen tending their nets or counting their catch, He meets some ordinary men.
18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
Jesus finds two brothers who are casting their nets and fishing for their livelihood. They fish to make money and to provide for their family. There is nothing special about them, they have no unique skills that would make them particularly desirable to Jesus. He just chooses them. And that’s because…
POINT #3 – GOD WANTS US TO BE THE NET
Jesus gives them an invitation that is echoed over and over throughout the Gospels. He says, “Come follow Me.” Come learn from Me. Come spend time with Me. Come be a part of this Kingdom of God. Jesus was offering to be their rabbi, their teacher, and for them to be His disciples, his students. The goal of every disciple was not just to know what the rabbi knows, but to do what the rabbi does. Jesus had come into the world to spread the net, and He wanted others to help Him reach the world and pull that net in.
So, the brothers leave their fishing nets and no longer fish for fish, but begin to fish for people.
This invitation is for us here as well. Are we willing to follow Jesus and be fishers of people? Are we willing to share the Kingdom treasure we have found with those around us who are in need of God’s grace and love?
We have something that the world is desperately in need of and doesn’t even know it.
There once was a young salesman who was disappointed about losing a big sale, and as he talked with his sales manager he mourned, “I guess it just proves you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” The manager replied, “Son, take my advice: Your job is not to make him drink. Your job is to make him thirsty.”
So it is with sharing our faith. Our lives should be so filled with Christ that they create a thirst for the Gospel in other people. The Holy Spirit will then do His part. It is not your job to change anyone’s heart. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. It is your job to show them the heart of Christ!
When we find ourselves caught by the grace of God, our lives ought to show it. This is the way that the net works: We show the joy that comes from living in right relationship with God, and the world sees what we have and will want it as well.
When the time is right, we share how God has changed our lives and that He can do the same for them as well.
Being a follower of Jesus means that you have a passion for the lost just like Jesus does. So how are you going to let your life be used by Jesus to reach others?