Summary: A look at the parable of the net in three stages and personal applications of this truth.
In Matthew 13, there are seven parables Jesus told about the Kingdom of Heaven. We looked at two long parables, the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds. Then we looked at four short parables, the mustard seed, yeast, a buried treasure and a pearl of great price. This morning we come to the seventh parable I’m calling God’s Dragnet.
One of the earliest police shows on radio and television was Dragnet. The television series starred Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday and his sidekick, Bill Gannon, played by Harry Morgan, before he went on to become Colonel Potter in M.A.S.H. Dragnet had an ominous music theme that still strikes fear in the heart of criminals. Dum-de-dum-dum. Dum-de-dum-dum-dum. The show always began with the same introduction: “Ladies and gentlemen, the story you’re about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.”
Then the case was introduced with the simple facts: “Tuesday, February 12. It was rainy in Los Angeles. We were working the day watch out of robbery division. My partner’s Ben Romero. My name’s Friday.” Actually, on the television series Joe Friday never said, “Just the facts, ma’am.” That phrase became famous from the 1987 Dragnet movie starring Dan Akroyd.
Today, we’re going to look at a parable called “God’s Dragnet.” Ladies and gentlemen, the story you’re about to hear is true. The names have not been changed. And we’re going to look at more than just the facts, ma’am; we’re going to look at the truth. Wednesday, April 19, 30 A.D. It was a warm day in Galilee. The crowds were gathered. His name was Jesus and here’s His story:
“‘Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 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. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Have you understood all these things?’ Jesus asked. ‘Yes,’ they replied. He said to them, ‘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.’ When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there.” (Matthew 13:47-53)
If this parable sounds familiar it’s because it is a twin of the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds. The spiritual message is the same; the only difference is Jesus used the analogy of fish instead of plants. Jesus was talking to fishermen as well as farmers. He knew this parable would apply to all the fishermen in his audience. Let’s look at the message of the parable in three stages, and then we’ll look at some personal applications of this truth.
I. THE FISHING: Jesus came seeking to save lost individuals
In the parable Jesus said the fishermen went out into the lake and let their net down into the water. If you’re going to catch fish, you’ve got to go seek the fish. I grew up fishing a lot with my dad. We would often drive down to Choctawhatchee Bay, which was only about 45 minutes from my house. This is a salt water bay near Destin, Florida. A couple of times we’d just be sitting in our boat when a school of mullet (that’s a fish, not just a redneck haircut) would start jumping around us and a mullet would jump right into our boat. That was easy fishing! But that is extremely rare, because fish don’t usually jump into your boat. You have to work hard to catch them.
In this parable, Jesus is the Master fisherman who came to seek people who needed a Savior. When He called His disciples who were fishermen He said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” You’ve probably heard this verse: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10) But do you recognize the context in which Jesus spoke those words? It was after He sought out a particular individual who was lost. The man’s name was Zacchaeus. Jesus was passing through Jericho and Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see this famous rabbi. To his surprise, Jesus looked up into the tree and called his name. He said, “Zacchaeus, I’m coming to your house for lunch today.” Jesus knew Zacchaeus was a little man with a big problem: He was a no-good-cheating tax collector, selfish and greedy. But Jesus loved him in spite of his sin. After Zacchaeus spent time with Jesus, he was a changed man.