A while back I was studying Jesus’ parable of the dragnet found in Matthew 13: 47 – 50.
47“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; 48and 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. 49“So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
My thoughts immediately began to go back to my “growing up” days on a farm where we raised catfish. As I thought about what Jesus’ was saying, God began to formulate the following story in my mind. I hope it will motivate all of us to be more aware that time is drawing near when those who are Christ-followers will be separated from those who are not followers of Christ. We need to try to bring them into the kingdom of God before it is too late!
The Parable of the Fish Pond
Life was really great in the pond. The water was deep and wide. The fish had freedom to swim and explore the limits of the pond to their heart’s content. They had learned all about the pond. They knew every inch of it, but no one really knew what lay beyond the surface or past the water’s edge. Sometimes they even speculated about the unknown beyond the surface.
One day at a local gathering Large Mouth told about the time he struck at what he thought was just an easy meal. “Suddenly I found myself being pulled toward the water’s edge,” he recounted. “Frantically I fought to get loose, but I couldn’t until finally, in utter desperation I leapt through the surface, and with all my might I shook my head and the thing let go of my lips.” He shook his big head and said, “It’s a strange world up there. It’s brighter than anything I’ve ever seen before, and it’s dry too. Why, I don’t think we could live up there more than a minute or two.” He shuttered, “We fish were made for the pond and nothing else.”
“What about when we die,” Channel Cat asked? “Surely there is more to life than just this pond.” “What do you mean? When we die, we die, that’s all there is,” growled Mud Cat. “We just become fertilizer for the algae.” “But think about it,” Channel Cat persisted. “Where did our pond come from? It is so complex that surely you don’t think it just happened? And, what about all that food that falls on the surface every day just before dark, doesn’t that show us that there is Someone up there who is interested in us fish? And if He cares enough to see that we have food to eat, don’t you think that he has plans for us beyond this life”?
“How can you be sure there is Someone up there who cares for us,” questioned Grass Carp. “Have you ever seen Him, smelled Him, touched Him, tasted Him, or heard Him speak?”
“Well, no, but I’ve seen that food come every day. I’ve seen the light come on above and then go off again just like clockwork. I’ve seen fresh water gush into the pond when it had become alarmingly shallow. I’ve seen the surface churn violently when the water was so hot that we were all about to suffocate, and realized that all of a sudden we could breathe more easily and we felt renewed and refreshed again. I have to believe that there is more to life than just this pond. I believe that there is someone up there that watches over us and cares about us and has a greater purpose planned for us.”
Well, I’m glad you believe that fish tale,” retorted Mud Cat, “because I sure don’t.”
Even though the fish couldn’t all agree on what lay beyond the surface, they continued to live in the pond together, each going about his days in his own way. Channel Cat ate his food each day before dark and wondered what the One who provided it was like. Mud Cat wallowed deep into the cool muddy bottom of the pond and slept away most of his days. Large Mouth was usually busy gobbling up the smaller fish in the fish eat fish world of the pond. Mean-while, Grass Carp was constantly carping and complaining about the poor quality of the grass he had to eat.
One day they encountered something new in the pond; something they had never seen. It ran the entire width and depth of the pond. Try as they might, they could not get around it, under it, over it, or through it. They were trapped! Slowly, but surely, it cut them off from more and more of the pond, herding them all closer and closer to the water’s edge, until finally there was nowhere else to go.
Bumping against one another, like sardines in a can, they were enveloped by that strange thing until suddenly and violently, they were yanked out of the water into that dry world beyond the surface. There they lay, helplessly, and hopelessly flopping about on that previously unknown shore.
Quickly, workers of the owner began to sort through the wiggling, writhing fish, gathering Channel Cat and all his kindred into an aerated tank where they were transported and soon released into their new home. Their new home was a lake with the freshest, cleanest, and clearest water they had ever seen. This lake had no surface, no bottom, and no shores. But best of all, in this lake, no fish ever died. It was such a wonderful place that they called it “Heaven.”
Sadly, not all of the fish went to the lake, but only those who were suitable for the Owner’s use. Mud Cat and his type, Grass Carp and his type, even ole Large Mouth and his type, along with a large host of other trash fish, were thrown up on the dry shore in the blistering hot sun. Gasping for air through their dried out gills, they lay there wishing to die, but death would not come.
Grass Carp complained, “I thought you said there was nothing more for us fish beyond the surface except to die and become fertilizer for the algae!” “How was I to know there was something more beyond the surface? Besides, you’re the one who denied that there was Someone who was taking care of us,” murmured Mud Cat.
I just wish I’d listened to Channel Cat and not spent all my time trying to be King of the Pond,” lamented Large Mouth. And so it continued for all eternity; suffering death, but never dying. Dry and waterless, hot and hotter, why, if you think of it, you might call it Hell.
But you know, as well as I, that this parable is not about fish, but about people; men and women, boys and girls. It is not about a pond, but about a world filled with people of many kinds, but only two different types; those who are citizens of God’s kingdom, and those who are not citizens of God’s Kingdom. It is not about a pond owner, but about the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
This parable is about separation. It is about heaven and hell. It is about where each of us will spend eternity. It is about choosing who you’re going to serve.
Colossians 2: 13 – 14
13When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.