Gathering the Catch

Home Church Service 5/8/2021

These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Have you understood all these things?” They *said to Him, “Yes.” And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”      Matthew 13:47-52 (NASB)

We are fortunate to live in an area that has plenty of outdoor activities that allow us to get close to nature and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. We are surrounded by farmland and woods that are home to much wildlife like deer, turkey, hawks, foxes, and coyotes to name a few. One of the most popular activities in our area is fishing, thanks to the many rivers and lakes we have nearby. The fishing we are used to however is far different than what is found in our passage today. We are used to fishing alone or with a few friends using a rod and reel with lures and bait. We cast and reel in whatever we are lucky enough to catch. In this case Gathering the Catch is an individual effort.

In our passage Jesus is speaking directly to His disciples. He has told them that to them it has been given that they can know and understand the parables He uses to teach. Given the fact that most of them are fishermen, they knew what the drag net was and how it was used. What they did not understand is how they would become “fishers of men.” This parable likely brought much insight and understanding to just how they would become “fishers of men” as they are involved in Gathering the Catch.

The kingdom of heaven is like a drag net Gathering the Catch, it gathers every kind of fish so the good fish must be separated from the bad fish. The same must happen at the end of the time when the wicked are separated from the righteous and the scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom becomes like a head of a household sharing his treasure, new and old alike.

The kingdom of heaven is like a net that reaches far and wide Gathering the Catch of all kinds so the so the good must be separated from the bad just as the believers must be separated from the unbeliever. Those who belong to the kingdom share what they have found, both the new and the old.

The question we seek to answer in this message is, “Why is it important of to have an understanding of Gathering the Catch?”

The importance of understanding Gathering the Catch is knowing where we stand at judgment and how we understand the new in the old.

1). Our understanding of Gathering the Catch means we know there will always be bad among the good.

Just as the bad fish must be removed from the good fish, at the end of the age true believers must be separated from the unbelieving.

The drag net is the oldest type of net used on the lake. It was shaped like a wall, 750 – 1000 feet long, 25 feet tall at the center and tapered to 5 feet at the ends. The bottom rope was lined with sinkers while the top rope was lined with cork to keep it afloat. The net was then dragged towards the shoreline by the ends, thus trapping fish along the way. At the shoreline the fish were then separated, an ancient tradition in Israel. The bad fish were thrown away and these included fish that were missing fins or had no scales.

The day will come when the net of the kingdom draws to a close, bringing with it all sorts who have responded to the gospels call, it is God who will then do the sorting, not people now. It is not for the Christian members, no matter how long you have been a member of the church, nor for any pastor, to determine who are the real Christians within the mixed church. This does not mean we do not call out sin or correct bad behavior, we still have a responsibility to sharpen one another’s faith!

The kingdom of heaven has come to this world through the preaching and teaching of the gospel message. Because of this, many have come to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ; however, the coming of the kingdom has not given the enemy his final defeat or prevented evil people in the world. So, on the surface, the disciple of Jesus may look the same as others in the world, but there is a difference, unseen at the moment, as a result of the transformation produced by the impact on a person’s life because of the gospel.

We must understand we will not see the end of evil until Christ returns and God completes the separation of the evil from the righteous. This seems to run counter to our understanding of God’s reign in the kingdom, but Jesus gives us reason for rock solid hope! Evil comes from the evil one – not God! Because of this we can and should expect spiritual warfare throughout our life on earth – simply because we live in a world contaminated by evil. But God has promised that just over the horizon is certain rescue for those who are disciples of Christ Jesus. Likewise, there is certain destruction for those aligned with the evil one.

This parable is a challenge about Christian perseverance until the last day. As followers of Jesus, we must live righteously if we want to live with the Righteous One. There are NO short cuts!! Within the same church we will always find good and bad, real and unreal. Even though we have learned and know not to expect to find a pure world or church, we are not to make the decision about people now, there is a day coming when God will make the separation!

The prayer of Jesus in John 17 asks God to protect us from the evil one, not to remove us from the world. Through the parable of the wheat and the tares we know the plans of the enemy – the evil one will try to invade the church! Knowing this we must be aware and pray against the plans of Satan, he will operate in this world until the return of Christ, but we can hamper his effectiveness by praying against his activities and not allowing those activities a foothold in our churches. We must deal with sin quickly and not allow it the opportunity to spread.

The importance of understanding Gathering the Catch is knowing where we stand at judgment and how we understand the new in the old.

2). Our understanding of Gathering the Catch is knowing how to balance the new with the old.

As disciples of the kingdom of heaven we must learn the new is not opposed to the old – they work in tandem!

Jesus speaks directly to His disciples about their understanding. He now likens them to teachers of the law – scribes in Israel – who are then likened to the head of a household. The Greek word Matthew uses sometimes refers to God, to Jesus Himself or to the disciples of Jesus; it is also sometimes used to picture giving away or distributing the wealth of God, such as wages for a worker or a rental property for a farmer. Jesus now uses the metaphor as a head of a household who brings out his treasure – not to impress with his wealth but to share it for the benefit of others.

So, Jesus draws a contrast between the scribes – teachers of the law – and the disciples of Jesus. These scribes trained in the Torah, studied under great rabbis and passed on those traditions and teachings to others. However, those who became disciples of the kingdom of heaven turn to Jesus as their only teacher and now they must faithfully pass on the teachings of Jesus to others. They not only understand the truth that Jesus teaches, but they also understand the arrival of Jesus fulfills the coming of the Messiah and the Messianic kingdom.

When Jesus asked the disciples if they understood, He really wanted to know if they were at one with the crowds. Do you really understand the teachings of Jesus through your own diligent reading and studying of His word? Or do you remain at one with the crowds who are just going along, playing at being a Christian? Are you at one with the crowds in thinking that being a good person is enough to get you into heaven? Or do you hunger and thirst for righteousness that only comes through Christ Jesus?

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we must know what we believe. We must also understand the “mysteries of the kingdom” if we are to share the treasure we have found with others. Christ has not come to erase what we have gained in our lifetime, in fact, He has come that we might have life and life in abundance. Jesus has come to enrich what we already have!!

As disciples of Jesus, we have received treasure through His instruction – His word and commandments – so now we are to bring those teachings to others. As His disciples, therefore, we are to pay close attention to the priorities of the kingdom in our lives so we may continue to reveal the presence of Jesus in our lives. This should also impact our understanding of the Old Testament today, for we cannot fully understand and interpret the New Testament without an understanding of the Old Testament. The Old and the New do not work against one another, but work in tandem to provide a full and complete picture of the kingdom of heaven.

The importance of understanding Gathering the Catch is knowing where we stand at judgment and how we understand the new in the old.

We are blessed to have an area surrounding us that provides ample opportunity to get out and enjoy nature. There is plenty of farmland and wooded areas that provide homes for the wildlife in our area but the one thing that is most popular in our area, thanks to the nearby lakes and rivers, is fishing. The fishing we know is using a rod and reel to cast and catch using lures and bait. In this type of fishing, it is the individual who is Gathering the Catch.

Many of the disciples are fishermen and they know what a drag net is and how it is used. What they really did not understand is how they were to become “fishers of men.” With this parable Jesus explains how the kingdom of heaven works like a drag net and brings in all sorts who have responded to the gospels call. Like the disciples we who follow Jesus are involved in Gathering the Catch.

The only time the bad will be in the presence of the good is now. Very soon the bad will be separated from the good. Christ will come and separate the bad from the good. If a person has lived bad all of their life, even if they are in the church and among the good, they will not be allowed to continue with the good. They will be taken and cast out of the presence of the good.

What must we do going forward? How can we prepare ourselves and make certain we remain in the kingdom? First, we must learn not to judge a person by how they look. Many times, the one who “looks” like a Christian is in fact living a life of sin, while the one who “looks” sinful has a heart completely given over to Christ. The Scriptures are very clear that we NOT look at the appearance of a person. When Samuel was sent to anoint David, God warned Samuel not to look at the stature of the brothers who passed before him.

 “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

We learn from Saul of Tarsus the same lesson, for Saul met Jesus on the way to Damascus and was changed from the inside out. As Saul the reputation was that of one who persecuted and hunted down Christians to take them to jail or have them stoned. But after meeting Jesus we meet Paul, one who is now preaching and teaching the Risen Jesus though he does not “LOOK” the part of a Christian given his earlier reputation. Therefore, we should look to the fruit of a person and not their outward appearance!

Secondly, confront sin. This is not a “get in your face” confrontation, this is a loving rebuke or correction. We must get past the fact that Christians are to love. What kind of love allows a person to commit sin against God knowing that will only lead to eternal separation from God? Christian love is to go the extra mile and sometimes that extra mile comes in a rebuke or correction. Did Jesus stop loving Peter when He very bluntly said, “Get behind Me Satan!” No, He did NOT!! His rebuke came as a loving reminder that Peter was thinking in the terms of man, not of God.

Thirdly, stay in the word to know and understand the plans of the enemy. This should help us gain further understanding of the Ephesians 6 passage about the full armor of God. We must have the truth of God’s word protecting us from the top of our heads to the very soles of our feet. The word not only renews our mind, but it helps to protect and preserve our heart and our faith against the schemes of the devil.

Finally, share your story. This is your HISTORY!!! People can find many different ways to refute and deny the Bible, but your life has been lived in the flesh, in the moment, before people you know. It is much harder for them to deny the changes and growth they have seen in your life, happening right before their eyes!! So, as Paul wrote to Timothy be ready!

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”                               2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NASB)

At the end, when the Lord calls you, what will your response be then? Are you at one with the crowd or do you hunger and thirst for righteousness found only in Christ Jesus?

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord.

Amen and Amen.

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