Summary: Is there anything about tomorrow we can be certain about? Is there any guarantee you’ll have your job a year from now? Is there any guarantee I won’t get cancer or you won’t die in an auto accident? Is there anything certain in this world? Is there an
October 10, 2004
HOW TO ESCAPE FROM REALITY
Is there anything about tomorrow we can be certain about? For instance, will George W. Bush be re-elected as president? Two weeks ago that almost looked certain. Now, the polls tell us that the race is a dead heat. Will the Utes go undefeated this year? It’s looking good, but we all know what can happen on “any given day.” And how about that new Jazz line-up? The play-offs are a shoo-in—unless, of course, the injury bug bites or team chemistry melts down, or Jerry Sloan decides to retire.
Is there anything about tomorrow we can be certain about? Is there any guarantee you’ll have your job a year from now? Is there any guarantee I won’t get cancer or you won’t die in an auto accident? Is there anything certain in this world? Is there anything about the future we can know for sure?
Jesus says there is. We can know how this world will end and we can know what will happen when it does. In Matthew 13:47-50 Jesus tells a story that opens a window to the future. He warns us of an event that is certain to take place at the end of time. Turn with me to Matthew 13:47-50 and follow along as I read the Parable of the Net. In Matthew 13:47-50 Jesus says, 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.
When we look into the future, is there anything we can be certain about? Jesus not only tells us there is, He draws us a picture. The scene Jesus paints is a fishing scene. It’s a scene very familiar to His disciples because many of them were fishermen. The fishermen in Jesus’ day would often use huge dragnets to gather in their catch. The fishermen attached weights to the bottom of the net and floats on the top. This created a wall around everything that swam inside the area encircled by the net. Nothing escaped when the fishermen drew the net in. Everything got dragged onto the shore. Unfortunately, not everything captured by the net was useful. Some of the fish caught would be junk fish. Some would be too small to keep. And some of the fish couldn’t be eaten because they were unclean according to Old Testament Law. That means the fishermen had to sit down sort their catch. The bad fish had to be separated from the good fish and thrown away.
That’s the picture Jesus uses in Matthew 13:49 where Jesus says, This is how it will be at the end of the age. Did you hear that? This is how it will be… There’s absolute certainty in that statement. Jesus didn’t say, “Maybe this is what will happen at the end of the age.” He didn’t make an educated guess about what might happen when the Day of Judgment comes. No! Jesus is certain about what the end will bring. Do you know why that’s significant? Jesus is God! He’s God. That means He doesn’t just know the future, He determines it. When Jesus says, “this is how it will be at the end of the age,” bank on it—that’s how it’s going to be!
As we sit here today, I really don’t know who’s going to win the presidential election. I don’t know if the Utes are going to go undefeated. I don’t know if I’ll have a job a year from now. In fact, I don’t even know if I’ll be alive. But here’s something I do know about tomorrow. At the end of the age, the angels of heaven will come and separate the righteous from the unrighteous, believers from unbelievers, the saved from the unsaved. I know it because Jesus says it and Jesus doesn’t lie.
So let’s stop and think for a moment about the meaning of Jesus’ parable. When Jesus teaches us about the future, what are the basic facts He reveals? What are the realities of the age to come? The first future reality of which we can be sure is this—at the end of the age, we will discover that there are only two kinds of people. After Jesus tells us the story about how the fishermen separated the good fish from the bad fish he continues on in verse 49 and says, This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous.