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INTRODUCTION

Have you ever heard the story about the farmer who told his wife one morning that he was going to plough the southern side of his farm ?He got off to an early start so he could oil the tractor . He needed more oil, so he went to the shop to get it. On the way to the shop, he noticed his cows weren’t fed . So he proceeded to the cattle feed , where he found some sacks of feed. The sacks reminded him that his potatoes were sprouting. When he started for the potato pit , he passed the woodpile and remembered that his daughter wanted wood in the house. As he picked up a few sticks , an ailing goat passed by. He dropped the wood and reached for the goat. When evening arrived , the frustrated farmer had not even gotten to the tractor, let alone the field!

How many times have you found yourself in a similar situation? You intended to do something you knew was important, but were distracted and never accomplished what you set out to do.

Or perhaps you can think of something that you have always wanted to do but can never find time for.

By the same question, are you aware of something that you do often that is a waste of time ?

If you are a normal person, you answered “Yes” to both questions and thought of something specific in each case. Isn’t it strange that we can want to do one thing for a long time and never get to it, and yet at the same time we freely admit that we are wasting time on other activities ?

THAT IS WHY WE NEED TO LEARN TO MANAGE OURSELVES.

PARABLES OF JESUS – 15

Parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price

Jesus had just finished explaining to the disciples the meaning of the Parable of Wheat and the Tares, and these two short parables are a continuance of His discussion of the “kingdom of heaven.” He expressed truths about the kingdom in three pairs of parables in Matthew 13 : The seed and the sower (vv. 3-23) and the weeds in the field (vv. 24-30); the mustard seed (vv. 31-32) and the leaven (v. 33); and the hidden treasure (v. 44) and the pearl of great price (vv. 45-46).

The similarities of these two short parables make it clear they teach the same lesson—the kingdom of heaven is of inestimable value. Both parables involve a man who sold all he had to possess the kingdom. The treasure and the pearl represent Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers. And while we cannot pay for salvation by selling all our worldly goods, once we have found the prize, we are willing to give up everything to possess it. But what is attained in exchange is so much more valuable that it is comparable to trading an ounce of trash for a ton of diamonds (Philippians 3:7-9).

In both parables, the treasures are hidden, indicating that spiritual truth is missed by many and cannot be found by intelligence or power or worldly wisdom. Matthew 13: 11-17, and 1 Corinthians 2: 7-8, 14 make it clear that the mysteries of the kingdom are hidden from some who are unable to hear, see, and comprehend these truths. The disobedient reap the natural consequences of their unbelief—spiritual blindness. Those whose eyes are opened by the Spirit do discern spiritual truth, and they, like the men in the parable, understand its great value.

Notice that the merchant stopped seeking pearls when he found the pearl of great price. Eternal life, the incorruptible inheritance, and the love of God through Christ constitute the pearl which, once found, makes further searching unnecessary. Christ fulfills our greatest needs, satisfies our longings, makes us whole and clean before God, calms and quiets our hearts, and gives us hope for the future. The “great price,” of course, is that which was paid by Christ for our redemption. He emptied Himself of His glory, came to earth in the form of a lowly man and shed His precious blood on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

PARABLES OF JESUS – 14

Parable of Wise and Foolish Builders

Jesus famously used the analogy of wise and foolish builders in this well-known parable. The foolish individual listened to Jesus’ words and then promptly ignored them, acting like a man who built his house on a foundation of sand. The wise individual, however, listened to the words of Jesus and put them into practice, acting like a man who built his house on a solid rock foundation.

We’re likely aware that, in the construction industry, there are building codes that must be followed. These codes, devised by man, are intended to make houses safer and more structurally sound. Similarly, one might say that God has given us certain building codes for our lives. These plans, devised by God’s wisdom, are intended to make our lives better and more stable. So, an individual who builds his life according to his own whims is very likely going to find evidence of plumbing leaks, faulty wiring, and the possibility of the whole mess catching fire and burning to the ground. However, the individual who, having chosen a sound foundation, goes on to build according to God’s building plan, will likely find that things work together as they should, and the soundness of what’s been built hasn’t merely a lifetime warranty, but an eternal guarantee.

It’s essential to put all of Jesus’ parables into context, if we intend to understand and appreciate their value and importance. Luke tells us that Jesus was in Palestine where he presented to his Israelite disciples his Sermon on the Mount.

Palestine is a land of hills and mountains; in Jesus’ day, it was subject to violent rains and sudden floods. The Jordan River annually swelled to dangerous levels, becoming rapid and furious, spilling an extensive amount of water onto the plains below, sweeping everything away. Houses erected within reach of such sudden deluges — especially those founded on sand or other unreliable foundation types — couldn’t withstand such forces. Because mountainous rocks are common there, it wouldn’t have been difficult to find a reliable location with a solid foundation on which to erect a structure.

With that in mind, Jesus concluded his Sermon on the Plain (Luke) and his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew) by illustrating the valuable benefit of obeying his Word. It’s not enough to hear his words and nod yes; his words must be actively and reliably obeyed. In both parable versions, Jesus compares a person who hears his word but fails to obey him to a person who hears, then builds his house on a solid rock.

We can live our lives with confidence when we live according to the word of God. It is not just about listening or talking but it is about doing.

PARABLES OF JESUS – 13

Parable of the Lost Sheep

The meaning is simple yet profound: lost humans need a loving, personal Savior. Jesus taught this lesson three times in succession to drive home his meaning. God deeply loves and cares personally for us as individuals. We are valuable to him and he will seek far and wide to bring us back home to him. When the one who was lost returns, the Good Shepherd receives him back with joy, and he does not rejoice alone.

God cares about all of us equally and will stop everything to find us and care for us. We serve a Good Shepherd whose heart is for us to be found, rescued, and renewed. The parable of the lost sheep is meant to teach us how we should care for others regardless of how they look or act. We have been called to love and care for the lost!

Sheep have an instinctive tendency to wander. If the shepherd did not go out and seek this lost creature, it would not have found its way back on its own.

It was a rest-giving act, very likely needful to the sheep which could go no further, and was faint and weary. It was a full rest to the poor creature if it could have understood it, to feel itself upon its shepherd’s shoulders, irresistibly carried back to safety. What a rest it is to you and to me to know that we are borne along by the eternal power and Godhead of the Lord Jesus Christ! “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.” The Christ up bears us to-day: we have no need of strength: our weakness is no impediment, for he bears us. Hath not the Lord said, “I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry and will deliver you”? We shall not even stumble, much less fall to ruin: the shepherd’s feet shall traverse all the road in safety. 

We close by noticing one more matter, which is— THE ONE SOURCE OF JOY. This man who had lost his sheep is filled with joy, but his sheep is the sole source of it. His sheep has so taken up all his thought, and so commanded all his faculties, that as he found all his care centered upon it, so he now finds all his joy flowing from it.

He was for ever with the Father, eternally happy, infinitely glorious, as God over all; but yet he must needs come hither out of boundless love, take upon himself our nature, and suffer in our stead to bring us back to holiness and God. “He layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” That day the shepherd knew but one joy. He had found his sheep, and the very pressure of it upon his shoulders made his heart light, for he knew by that sign that the object of his care was safe beyond all question.

     Now he goes home with it, and this joy of his was then so great that it filled his soul to overflowing. The parable speaks nothing as to his joy in getting home again, nor a word concerning the joy of being saluted by his friends and neighbors. No, the joy of having found his sheep eclipsed all other gladness of heart, and dimmed the light of home and friendship. He turns round to friends and neighbors and entreats them to help him to bear the weight of his happiness. He cries, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.” One sinner had repented, and all heaven must make holiday concerning it. Oh, brethren, there is enough joy in the heart of Christ over his saved ones to flood all heaven with delight. 

PARABLES OF JESUS – 12

Parable of the Two Sons

The Parable of the Two Sons can be found in (Matthew 21:28-32). The basic story is of a man with two sons who told them to go work in the vineyard. The first son refused, but later obeyed and went. The second son initially expressed obedience, but actually disobeyed and refused to work in the vineyard. The son who ultimately did the will of his father was the first son because he eventually obeyed. Jesus then likens the first son to tax collectors and prostitutes—the outcasts of Jewish society—because they believed John the Baptist and accepted “the way of righteousness” (v. 32), in spite of their initial disobedience to the Law.

The key interpretive point in understanding the Parable of the Two Sons comes in defining to whom Jesus is speaking. For that we need to look at the overall context of this passage. Matthew chapter 21 begins with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The whole point of Matthew’s gospel is to show Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. The crowd responds by shouting Hosannas and praises to the King. The King’s first act upon entering Jerusalem is to cleanse the temple (21:12-17). Afterwards, we see Jesus cursing a fig tree (21:18-22). This account may seem an isolated story, but Jesus was making a strong symbolic point. The fig tree is often symbolic of Israel (ref. Hosea 9:10; Joel 1:7). The fact that the fig tree had leaves but no fruit is symbolic of Israel’s religious activity—i.e., all the trappings of spirituality, but no substance. Israel may have had the leaves of activity, but not the fruit of repentance and obedience to God, which is why Jesus tells them the prostitutes and tax collectors will enter the kingdom ahead of them (v. 31).

In (Matthew 21:23-27), the religious authorities—the chief priests and elders—question Jesus’ authority. Who is this Jesus who comes into Jerusalem receiving the praises of the masses and drives the moneychangers out of the temple? The stage is set for the showdown. It is in this context that Jesus tells three parables—the Two Sons, the Tenants, and the Wedding Feast. Each of these parables is told to the Jewish religious leaders, each illustrates their rejection of Jesus, and each pronounces judgment on Israel for their rejection of their Messiah. In the Parable of the Two Sons, the leaders of Israel are the second son who claimed obedience, but did not do the will of the father.

Encouragement for Those Without an Earthly Father

In the story, the father knew where he wanted his sons to go, and what he wanted them to accomplish. He told them a direction for a particular period of time. By doing so, he gave them a purpose and an understanding of what was expected. One of the two rejected this instruction. The young man who obeyed knew that he was working as instructed, and following the commands of his dad.

For those who grew up in broken homes, such sons and daughters lack some of these directions and expectations. Not that many of us work in vineyards, but fathers (and mothers) help guide their children in the ways they need to go. They teach them what is appropriate in the family, and how to work for others. They also encourage them by acknowledging a job well done.

In a broken home, at least part of that guidance is missing. Such absence hinders the positive development of children. This is a shame, and something that should be avoided.

The great thing about the Bible is that it teaches all of us in the way we need to go, and what we should do. This is the case even if one’s physical father is absent from the family. When we consider the Word of God, we simply have to decide how we respond to such instruction. All of us have the opportunity to benefit from such guidance.

In addition to that, the Scriptures reveal that there is a Father who is available to all of us. To you, and to me. Even if you grew up without a physical father, you can still be a child of GodYou can still have the Father and know His will. You can be a part of the family of God, having Jesus as your Lord and brother, and enjoying the blessings of being adopted as a child of God (Matt. 12:48-50; Gal. 4:1-7).

These are all marvelous, but we all have to change our minds before we can participate in them. I hope that all of us may do so, and be a part of the Kingdom of God.

PARABLES OF JESUS – 11

The parable of the persistent widow

REF : LUKE 18: 1-18

The title of this parable that Jesus told His disciples says everything. It is called the “parable of the persistent widow.” Her persistence is what set her apart and is the basis of what Jesus wanted to teach us through this parable.

What would have happened if “the persistent widow” had given up the first time she was turned away by the judge? What if, when he would not help, she just said to herself, “Oh well, I tried, and that’s that?” Is just having tried once good enough? The parable says that she “troubled him.” She persisted. She came back and continually pleaded her case. She was desperate. She needed to get justice from her adversary, she knew where she needed to go to get that justice, and she didn’t stop until she got it.

Who is my adversary?

“Why doesn’t God answer me when I pray? I feel like I am crying out …” These kinds of thoughts are common. But what is it that I am crying out for? Is my cry to have my own will accomplished, or is it for God’s will to be done in my life? The persistent widow cried out for justice from her adversary. Who are my adversaries? Are they not the things in my own flesh that hinder me from doing God’s will? There are so many adversaries in human nature. Pride, stubbornness, laziness, hard-heartedness. An inability to love and be good to everyone I meet. Envy, dissatisfaction, grudges, worry, a bad temper. The list could go on. Have I cried out and persisted in faith until God has avenged me of these adversaries as I’ve seen them come to light in myself? Until He’s given me the power to resist and to battle them until they are completely overcome? Until I’m free, so that goodness and virtue grow in my life?

Am I a “persistent widow?”

How is my persistence? Can I relate to the persistent widow? Jesus said that God will speedily be there for His elect “who cry out day and night.” Have I cried out about my need? Have I persisted? Or have I asked, kind of hoping for the best, but unsure of the results? This is the kind of attitude that made Jesus ask, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

Jesus also said, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12. These are strong words! Take it by force! Violently! I have to persistently cry out until my need is filled! If I give up because of obstacles or walls, barriers or hindrances of any kind, then did I really have faith? If I had asked in faith, with no doubting, as James teaches us to pray, then I would have persisted. (James 1 :-6) I wouldn’t have given up so easily. I wouldn’t have lost hope.

If I am seeking first the kingdom of God – seeking first to grow in virtue and get the life of Christ within myself – then I will also receive everything I need, both spiritually and practically. God wants me to be free from the things that bind me. Everything I experience in life works towards that end. If I want to be free, then, just like the persistent widow, I know exactly where to go and what I must do to become free.

PARABLES OF JESUS – 10

The Log and the Speck

It’s easy to see all the little deficiencies and annoying things in others, but not so easy to see our own much-larger character flaws.

In his parables and sayings, Jesus got the attention of His audience by using familiar images. Since farming, herding, and fishing were the three most common occupations in first-century Palestine, the odds were high that there were at least a few farmers, herders, or fishermen in every crowd. Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised that Jesus often spoke about such things as sowing seed, herding sheep, and casting a net into the sea.

The parable in today’s Gospel is different from Jesus’ other parables because He draws upon His own experience as a carpenter instead of tailoring His comments to the interests of His audience. In this story, two men are sawing wood when one of them gets a speck of sawdust in his eye. The other man cannot help his friend because there is a plank blocking his own line of vision. Although Jesus’ audience readily understood what He was talking about, the imagery of this parable eludes us because modern machinery has replaced ancient ingenuity.

Since there weren’t any sawmills in the first century, men used a rather primitive procedure to turn logs into planks of wood. After placing a log across the tops of two stepladder-like braces, one man climbed on top of the log and the other stood beneath it. Each man then grasped an end of a long saw, pushing and pulling as they cut the log lengthwise. If the man under the log looked up as he was working, sawdust fell into his eye and he was unable to continue. The other man could not get the sawdust out of his friend’s eye because his own vision was obscured by the log. This situation is what Jesus was talking about when He said the man could not take the speck out of his brother’s eye until he got the plank out of his own.

The speck of sawdust was symbolic of a small fault, while the log or plank represented a more serious problem. Just as the man had to move the log obstructing his own vision before he could help his friend, we must remove from our lives whatever gets in the way of our relationship with God before we can help someone else see God more clearly.

PARABLES OF JESUS – 9

Parable of the Good Samaritan

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is precipitated by and in answer to a question posed to Jesus by a lawyer. In this case the lawyer would have been an expert in the Mosaic Law and not a court lawyer of today. The lawyer’s question was, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

The Parable of the Good Samaritan tells the story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, and while on the way he is robbed of everything he had, including his clothing, and is beaten to within an inch of his life. That road was treacherously winding and was a favorite hideout of robbers and thieves. The next character Jesus introduces into His story is a priest. He spends no time describing the priest and only tells of how he showed no love or compassion for the man by failing to help him and passing on the other side of the road so as not to get involved. If there was anyone who would have known God’s law of love, it would have been the priest. By nature of his position, he was to be a person of compassion, desiring to help others. Unfortunately, “love” was not a word for him that required action on the behalf of someone else. The next person to pass by in the Parable of the Good Samaritan is a Levite, and he does exactly what the priest did: he passes by without showing any compassion. Again, he would have known the law, but he also failed to show the injured man compassion.

The next person to come by is the Samaritan, the one least likely to have shown compassion for the man. Samaritans were considered a low class of people by the Jews since they had intermarried with non-Jews and did not keep all the law. Therefore, Jews would have nothing to do with them. We do not know if the injured man was a Jew or Gentile, but it made no difference to the Samaritan; he did not consider the man’s race or religion. The “Good Samaritan” saw only a person in dire need of assistance, and assist him he did, above and beyond the minimum required. He dresses the man’s wounds with wine (to disinfect) and oil (to sooth the pain). He puts the man on his animal and takes him to an inn for a time of healing and pays the innkeeper with his own money. He then goes beyond common decency and tells the innkeeper to take good care of the man, and he would pay for any extra expenses on his return trip. The Samaritan saw his neighbor as anyone who was in need.

Because the good man was a Samaritan, Jesus is drawing a strong contrast between those who knew the law and those who actually followed the law in their lifestyle and conduct. Jesus now asks the lawyer if he can apply the lesson to his own life with the question “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:36). Once again, the lawyer’s answer is telling of his personal hardness of heart. He cannot bring himself to say the word “Samaritan”; he refers to the “good man” as “he who showed mercy.” His hate for the Samaritans (his neighbors) was so strong that he couldn’t even refer to them in a proper way. Jesus then tells the lawyer to “go and do likewise,” meaning that he should start living what the law tells him to do.

Here is another possible way to interpret the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and that is as a metaphor. In this interpretation the injured man is all men in their fallen condition of sin. The robbers are Satan attacking man with the intent of destroying their relationship with God. The lawyer is mankind without the true understanding of God and His Word. The priest is religion in an apostate condition. The Levite is legalism that instills prejudice into the hearts of believers. The Samaritan is Jesus who provides the way to spiritual health. Although this interpretation teaches good lessons, and the parallels between Jesus and the Samaritan are striking, this understanding draws attention to Jesus that does not appear to be intended in the text. Therefore, we must conclude that the teaching of the Parable of the Good Samaritan is simply a lesson on what it means to love one’s neighbor.

PARABLES OF JESUS – 8

The Parable of the Mustard Seed – 2

Some interpreters try to connect the previous parable―The Parable of the Sower―with this, believing that all the parables spoken by Jesus were linked together to bring forth one substantial meaning. The Parable of the Sower in Mathew 13:3-9, states, “And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.’”

There are some experts who link the two parables together, therefore, bringing about a completely different symbolism of what Jesus said. According to their understanding, the birds in the Parable of the Mustard Seed, just like the Parable of the Sower, refers to the evil that comes and devours the word of God sown in our hearts (seed). They also suggest that the birds that take refuge in the tree are no one else but sinners, false teachers, and agents of the Devil who dwell within the good only to make the believers weak and keep them distracted.

There has also been some criticism regarding Jesus’ choice of citing an example of the mustard seed, which doesn’t grow up into a tree at all. On this note, there have been interpretations that perhaps Jesus meant that the word of God has the power to change the nature of our hearts. While we expected the seed to grow into a shrub, it in fact, flourished in such a way that it grew up to become a strong and mighty tree rather than a delicate shrub. Possibly, Jesus was directing on the powers that the kingdom of God possesses, the miraculous strength it can give its people.

Because there is no sure way to judge as to which interpretation is correct and which is not, we tend to accept what we wish to accept, and reject which we don’t. However, a simplistic approach towards things is the right way of understanding them. As far as this parable is concerned, let us remember the one who delivered it, our very own Savior, Lord Jesus Christ. An epitome of simplicity, love, and mercy. If we keep Him in mind in all our ways, He will guide us all towards the right understanding of everything we come across. Amen.

THE END

PARABLES OF JESUS – 7

The Parable of the Mustard Seed – 1

Jesus has used the example of the mustard seed twice in the Bible. Once in the Parable of the Mustard Seed, and second when He explains about faith. Mathew 17:20 English Standard Version (ESV) states, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Being the only Son of God, Jesus’ knowledge about all that comprises heaven and earth was infallible. He knew exactly what He had to choose as an example to put forth a spiritual message that is comprehensible by one and all. Speaking of the example of the tiniest of all seeds, the mustard seed, Jesus efficaciously emphasized on the power of small beginnings and how they could turn into manifold growth reaching all throughout the world. Invariably, Jesus taught us all that in order to reach out to far away lands, you must start with a small beginning. The small mustard seed not only emphasizes on the degree of faith in the Lord, but also the power of a little endeavor spreading out to great multitudes.

Various experts have interpreted this one parable in many ways, with its meaning varying from both positive and negative. For starters, let us begin with the simplistic explanation of this parable.

Jesus began by saying, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed,” So, literary, as it has been written in the Bible, Jesus clearly states that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. Although this may not stand true in today’s time, but back then, it was the case. It was only Jesus, who with the help of His twelve disciples held the key to the kingdom of God, or to say, were eligible to be a part of the kingdom of God. As compared to the population worldwide, or only in Israel for that matter, their strength was equivalent to the tiny size of a mustard seed, a grain so small that it was almost difficult to locate it in case it fell on the ground.

He then proceeds, “… when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches,” thus implying the ground to be the people of earth and the sower being none other than Jesus Himself. The Gospel of the kingdom of heaven (the mustard seed) is introduced (sown) to the people of earth (ground). The tiny size of the mustard seed implies the few numbers of the preachers, but when they, with the power of God, did their task to introduce the lost men to the loving and caring shelter of the Father, the word spread throughout the world and became larger than all the other powers in the world (becomes larger than all the garden plants), which is the case now.

The work of Christ and His disciples that started with a small beginning has become a dominating part of the entire world, and has paved way for many people to take refuge or shelter in the kingdom of God which is symbolic of the Church. The parable states, “when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” This only implies that the kingdom of God has room for one and all, enough for all of us to build our safe haven in its branches and thrive under its shelter.

TO BE CONTINUED ..

PARABLES OF JESUS – 6

The Parable of the Net

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which 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 vessels but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” (Mt. 13:47-50)

I imagine that the Lord Jesus might have taught this parable by the Sea of Galilee, where the people might have just been watching the fishermen drawing in the nets. What is the picture that they see? Well, let me try to paint the picture for you. This type of fishing is called seine fishing, that is, fishing with seine nets, although the word “seine” does not appear in your English trans­lation. Seine fishing is done by a very long net with one or two boats. One end of the net is fixed by the shore, and the other end is drawn by a boat that sweeps out towards the lake, then it sweeps in again, and so encloses the fish against the shore. Or else two boats would go out together and then circle in closing the gap, therefore trapping the fish inside. Then the two boats would come to shore together, towing all the fish that got trapped in the net. This method of fishing is not used in the middle of the lake where the water is very deep. It is always used fairly close to shore. Now the top end of the net would have floats like corks or empty containers that will hold up the top of the net to float on the surface. The net is then dropped downward until it touches the bottom of the lake. Weights would hold the bottom of the net down, so that it sweeps along the bottom of the lake, or at least fairly close to the bottom of the lake, so that not all the fish go underneath the net and get away. In this way, this very long net being towed by the boats, spreads out in the water and sweeps towards the shore. Now you can imagine how this process traps all the fish within that net.

Even to this day, this way of fishing is still being used in commercial fishing in the Sea of Galilee. These very long nets are drawn by modern trawler fishing boats. Thus when the ships come to shore, fishermen haul the nets ashore, and draw in the big and small, good and bad fish, all trapped inside. Once on dry land, they are sorted out. Fishermen do not want fish which died in the nets; fish which are simply too weak, not in a healthy state, already turning onto their stomachs; and those which are too small, for they have little commercial value. That is the picture of fishing with these nets. Once you see that picture in your mind, you can see the parable the Lord Jesus uses to speak about the Kingdom of God.

These different kinds of fish might portray the different nations, the different types of people in the world, and there are an awful lot of varieties of fish. Then there are some fish which are big, some which are small; there are some with very sharp teeth that are always biting others; and there are others which are very peaceful, and just feed on insects, or crabs and small lobsters. There are all kinds of fish, like different people with different appearances and different characteristics. For example, in Habakkuk 1 : 14-15, – “You make mankind like the fish of the sea, like crawling things that have no ruler. He brings all of them up with a hook; he drags them out with his net; he gathers them in his dragnet; so he rejoices and is glad.”

When is the net being brought in? The net is brought to shore when it is full. This reminds us of Romans 11:25, where the apostle Paul says, when “the fullness of the Gentiles has come,” then the end of the age will take place. “Why is the end of the age not already taking place?” It is because the net is not yet full. When the net is full, when God’s purpose is complete, the end will come, and the net will be taken ashore.

Now the Greek word translated as “to gather” in Matthew 13:47, is translated as “to welcome” in Matthew 25 : 35, 38 , 43—“When I was sick…, I was in prison…, I was hungry…, you did not welcome me.” Or to the righteous ones the Lord Jesus says, “you welcomed me”—in the English Bibles. This means that the kingdom of God stretches out a welcoming hand to everybody. It is not exclusive in its invitation. Everybody is invited to enter the kingdom of God. If you are not a Christian, you are also invited today, to enter the kingdom of God. That is more than can be said right now for most countries, which have very strict immigration laws. You are only welcome if you are a certain type of person, and you meet the immigration requirements of that particular country. But the kingdom of God welcomes everybody! It is not that this welcome is unconditional, but it is a welcome. The point is, God so loved the world that whosoever wills may come!

We conclude bearing in mind this important point. What does the Lord Jesus say at the close in Mt. 13:49? It is the righteous which are separated from the evil. He doesn’t speak about believers and unbelievers but about evildoers and the righteous. Who shall be saved? It is the righteous who will be saved. And on this point, we shall expound more fully what the Lord Jesus means by the righteous.

One thing he makes plain in this parable is: “Be careful lest the light in you become darkness. And if the light in you become darkness, how great is that darkness. If Christians, the salt of the world has lost its taste—then like the fish, they are no longer fit for anything, but are thrown out and trodden under foot by men.” Remember these powerful and frightening words that the Lord Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5 : 13-14, 6: 22-23).