Summary: A sermon on the parable of the dragnet (Matthew 13:47-50)

Sermon for 2/16/2003

The Dragnet

Matthew 13:47-50


The Dragnet from TV.

1. Dragnet = A system of coordinated procedures used in apprehension, especially of criminal suspects.





That program, by the way, captured the intent of this parable better than any commentary I have in my library. It was about a police dragnet which swept through the city of Los Angeles and would capture and bring in all kinds of people to be investigated, to have either their badness or goodness in the eyes of the law exposed. That is exactly what this parable is about. Incidentally, it was located in the right place, the City of the Angels, because in the parable our Lord associates angels with the judgment.


The Dragnet from the Bible (KJV and NKJV)

1. Dragnet = A large net for trawling, for catching a large number of fish.

2. "Dragnet" a large net that was often attached to two boats sometimes a half of mile wide. Fish of every kind would be gathered into the net. The net had floats and nets so as to create a wall of net so that nothing escaped. As the dragnet was filled it was hauled to the shore awaiting those who would begin the process of separation. The useful (good) fish that could be sold at market were gathered and separated from the useless (bad) fish that would be thrown away.

3. Catfish were forbidden for Jewish people. Clean fish were those having scales and fins, those without fins and scales were thrown away.

4. Last parable in a long account of parables from Jesus in Matthew 13.

Thesis: The Parable of the Dragnet gives us three thoughts for this morning. The Righteous and the Wicked will exist together until the end of the age. The righteous and the wicked will even exist together in the “church.” Lastly, only God knows the righteous from the wicked.

For instances:

I. The righteous and the wicked will exist together until the end.

A. Parable of the weeds and wheat (Matthew 13:37-43)

B. Some fish are good to eat, some are not good. Dogfish or carp.

C. What makes the difference between good fish and bad fish?

1. (2 Cor 5:21 NIV) God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2. (Rom 3:21 NIV) But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. (Rom 3:22 NIV) This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, (Rom 3:23 NIV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Rom 3:24 NIV) and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

D. The good and useful will be saved; and the bad and useless will be cast away.

II. The righteous and wicked will even exist together in the church.

A. Different opinions in the commentaries.

B. The dragnet could refer to the “church” (those who are connected to the church in some fashion) - Not my favorite and not the best interpretation but it does apply.

C. Some commentators believe this represents the church since other parables refer to the kingdom in this way, but Jesus in the parable of the wheat and weeds said that the field was the world. However, the world does include the church. Even the church will be judged.

D. Just because someone has their name on a church role does not reserve them a ticket for heaven.

E. At funerals, Otto- Not ever completely sure unless a baby.

F. Quote from Leon Hill, adapted- I’m a Church of Christ preacher. Some one asked me if I was one of those narrow Church of Christ people who think only people in the Church of Christ are going to heaven. Said I, “I’m narrower than that, I don’t believe half of them are going either.”

G. How can bad fish exist in the church?

1. Ungodly beliefs.

a. (Mat 16:15 NIV) "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"(Mat 16:16 NIV) Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."(Mat 16:17 NIV) Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.(Mat 16:18 NIV) And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.(Mat 16:19 NIV) I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."(Mat 16:20 NIV) Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. (Mat 16:21 NIV) From that times on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. (Mat 16:22 NIV) Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"(Mat 16:23 NIV) Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

b. Illustration- We can’t reach out to the minorities. No advertising, no neighborhood visitation, no one knows anything about the church, but we are racially pure.

c. We want to stay a small church. What are your plans for growth? What are your plans to form more small churches?

d. The church is here to serve me, not for me to serve the church.

e. Ungodly attitudes and beliefs affect the church. It affects brothers and sisters and it affects the growth of the Kingdom.

f. Sin affects the church. On a cruise ship, some stewards and sailors became concerned about a clanging noise from one of the cabins. They forced open the door to this cabin and saw that a man was taking a pick ax to the side of the boat. The stewards and sailors restrained this man and asked him, “What are you doing, if you manage to put a hole in the side of the ship, we will take on water and might sink?” The man said, “How dare you! I purchased this cabin and what I do in it is my business. What do you care, it’s on my side of the ship?!”

g. I want to be used of God, not used of Satan.

h. Must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We are saved by faith through grace at baptism to do good works.

i. Hebrews 2:3a how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation,

j. Just a little dab will do you.

k. Those who are useless will be cast away.

l. Must examine our beliefs to see if they are right and true.

2. Never converted.

a. Why are they here if never converted? Love of power, love of fellowship, love of excitement, Love of happiness, love of study.

b. Refer to parable of sheep and goats.

c. (Mat 7:21 NIV) "Not everyone who says to me, ’Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.(Mat 7:22 NIV) Many will say to me on that day, ’Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’(Mat 7:23 NIV) Then I will tell them plainly, ’I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

d. These people have a form of godliness, they look holy and righteous on the outside, but inside they really do not know the Lord.

e. Just going to church will not get us into heaven. If going to church makes us a Christian, then going to McDonald’s makes us a McDonald’s hamburger.

f. Perfect attenders who fail to let the word and will of God take root in their lives.

g. (Heb 10:26 NIV) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,(Heb 10:27 NIV) but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.(Heb 10:28 NIV) Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.(Heb 10:29 NIV) How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?(Heb 10:30 NIV) For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people."(Heb 10:31 NIV) It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

h. I was saved many years ago but I never go to church, I never give any money, etc. Do not know Jesus Christ, He is not their friend, and they do not love His bride, the church, then what are we to think?

i. The letter of Jude is all about false teachers and those who do not love the Lord. (Jude 1:3 NIV) Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.(Jude 1:4 NIV) For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

j. (Mat 7:16 NIV) By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? (Mat 7:17 NIV) Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. (Mat 7:18 NIV) A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. (Mat 7:19 NIV) Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Mat 7:20 NIV) Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

k. We are to watch out for people like this, who are among us but appear to be ungodly. However, we are not to judge their eternal souls.

III. Only God knows the righteous from the wicked.

A. God is the Judge. (2 Tim 4:8 NIV) Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

B. Praise be that God is the Judge for he knows what is in people’s hearts. Acts 15:8 says that God knows the heart. Something that no earthly judge has the ability to do.

C. God will separate them because he knows. We will be surprised who will be in heaven and who will be in hell.

D. What about those people who came forward and were baptized and seemed to go through the plan of salvation? Some people are not sincere.

E. (Heb 10:22 NIV) let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

F. God will change our hearts through Jesus Christ, if we let him. We will have good hearts full of the Spirit. We will be good fish, but some people are not serious about this and they are the bad fish.


A. God knows you! How do you stand with Him?

B. One day Jesus Christ is coming again! Jesus- When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

C. Come forward and give your lives to God! First time, plan of salvation

D. Rededications!

E. In the end the dragnet will get you. Are you a good or bad fish?