Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 16, 2010

Kingdom Judgment

Reflections on Matthew 13:47-50

After sharing parables about kingdom growth and kingdom worth, Jesus shared a final parable about the kingdom of heaven with His disciples. In Matthew 13:47, Jesus said “the kingdom of heaven is like a net.” The mention of a net would have immediately caught the attention of the fishermen in the room — Peter, Andrew, James, and John. These men had been working with nets beside the Sea of Galilee on the day Jesus had called them to follow Him (Matt. 4:18-22). Their nets represented their previous profession. However, these men chose to follow Jesus, left their fishing nets behind, and instead became “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19).

Jesus told a parable about a net that was let down into the lake. The net was probably a large and rectangular dragnet. This type of net was generally used in one of two ways. The net was either secured to two boats and pulled through the water or anchored to the shore on one end while a boat pulled the other end through the sea. Either way, this seining process effectively resulted in a catch of “all kinds of fish.”

While visiting the Reindeer People in northern Mongolia, I had the opportunity to observe how men fish with nets on frozen lakes. The fishermen cut a series of holes in the ice and then lower a net through one hole and stretch it under the ice to the farthest hole. Then, they leave the net and return to pull it out of the frigid water the following day. Amazingly, this process results in a catch of all kinds of fish. I observed as these Mongolian fishermen, like those in the parable, sorted their catch, tossing the good fish in one pile and the bad fish in another pile (Matt. 13:48).

All kinds of people get caught in the kingdom net — those who have been truly converted and those who have never actually trusted Christ for salvation. However, Jesus explained that at the end of the age people will be separated on the basis of how they responded to Him (Matt. 13:49). The wicked — those who rejected Christ or feigned citizenship in His kingdom — will be separated from the righteous and consigned to a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 13:50). In light of this, we must not remain silent knowing that one day all people will be subject to judgment. Every person who has a saving knowledge of Christ has a personal responsibility to share that knowledge with others. We owe Christ to all people (Rom. 1:14).

The disciples had listened patiently as Jesus taught them about the kingdom of heaven. Jesus asked them, “Have you understood all these things?” (Matt. 13:51). The disciples replied affirmatively. Jesus continued by explaining that they were responsible for the knowledge they had received about the kingdom (Matt. 13:52) — “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.

The disciples were like scribes or teachers of the law who had received special instruction in matters concerning the kingdom of heaven. This knowledge was like a wonderful treasure deposited in the storeroom of their hearts. They were not to hide and hoard that treasure. Instead they were obligated to share that treasure with the world. We too, are obligated to share what we know about the kingdom. John R. Mott once said that the greatest crime we can commit is to withhold what we know about Jesus from the world. Unless we are willing to open the storeroom and bring out the treasures, many people in the world today will remain spiritually impoverished. So, how should we respond to what Jesus taught about the kingdom of heaven?

First, make certain that you are a citizen of His kingdom. Jesus said that “no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (Jn. 3:3). Have you placed your faith in Jesus for salvation? Have you submitted to His will and rule in your life? Are you certain that you will be counted among the righteous at the end of the age (Matt. 13:49)?

Second, live under God’s rule. Submit to His leadership daily (Col. 1:13-14). Remember that as a citizen of His kingdom you are not under any obligation to obey Satan, your former master.

Third, seek His kingdom ahead of everything else (Matt. 6:33). Make His kingdom the top priority in your life. Abandon selfish pursuits and invest in those things that will advance the kingdom of heaven and last for eternity. Live like a responsible citizen of His kingdom.

Finally, do your part to grow the kingdom. Remember that your life and influence should be like the pervasive power of yeast. Share the gospel of the kingdom with those in your household and in your sphere of influence. And, cooperate with others in taking the gospel of the kingdom to those with the least access to it (Matt. 24:14).

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