February 15, 2019

The Net

Matthew 13:47-50

“The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish.”

—  Matthew 13:47

I remember fishing with my brother-in-law on his commercial fishing boat. It was a gill netter, and we were fishing for salmon. We laid out the half-mile-long net into the water across the current and then spooled it back into the boat, anticipating that we had caught our salmon. But on that day the tide must have been very low, because we caught mostly mud sharks (dogfish). The ratio of mud sharks to salmon was forty-two to one. We placed the mud sharks in a pile off to the side, while the prized salmon went into a special container to keep them fresh.

Jesus says that “the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish.” Then he says that the net was found to have both bad fish and good fish—like a catch of both mud sharks and salmon.

Fish do not know if they are going to be kept or discarded. But Jesus knows his fish. He can see through our facades; he knows our hearts; he knows the righteous from the fake-righteous.

Good fish and bad fish, wheat and weeds—Jesus uses these images to remind us that he sees what is in our hearts.

Jesus, break our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh. Put your Spirit in us and save us, we pray. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Dale Melenberg

Dale Melenberg is a second-career pastor. He received a theology degree through Calvin Theological Seminary and a doctorate of ministry degree at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is married to Gloria, and together they have raised three sons and are enjoying their four grandchildren. Growing up in an immigrant community shaped Dale’s view of family, church, and community in a profound way that continues to inform his life-view toward kingdom living with God, neighbors, and the creation.

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