Matthew 13:47

Verse of the Day Devotion Matthew 13:47 

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea and gathering fish of every kind.” – Matthew 13:47 

Today we will look at the parable of the net.   Here is this parable as found in Matthew’s gospel.

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 shall come forth, and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:44.

In Matthew chapter thirteen, Jesus is sitting by the sea and teaching crowds through the use of parables. There were probably fishermen there which would have been able to understand the intent of the message. Starting with our focus verse we read, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea and gathering fish of every kind.” Matthew 13:47.  This parable addresses the intermingling of good and bad at that time, in our present time and the certainty of their separation at the end of the age upon Christ’s return.  The net referred to here was a large dragnet spread out over a considerable area of water. A good catch of fish would require strenuous effort to haul to shore.  This parable though does not focus on the net, but on the catch. The idea regards bringing all the people together, comprised of both what is valuable and what is valueless. There is no discrimination about netting fish; everything in the area, good and bad alike, is caught up.

Now, putting out the net is the first process, but then comes the gathering of the net to the shore with all the fish enclosed. The net is said to be filled, which was denoted as a good catch. It is drawn up on the beach, so Jesus is speaking of the hauling in of the fish at the end of the operation. Then they would sit on the beach and sort out the fish. The good ones would be put into baskets.  The bad fish were thrown away, for they had no value and there was nothing else they could do with them.

Now in the last two verses, Jesus explains what He meant in the first two verses. He starts by saying in the same way. In other words, this was a picture of the end times. It speaks of two very distinct groups of people.  Just as the net is drawn up with every type of fish in the sea, both good and bad, so will all the people be gathered together for judgement, both the righteousness and the evil.  It is important to remember that the division has nothing to do with merit, based on our own efforts.  The righteous are those who follow Jesus and depend on God’s mercy for they know their shortcomings can only be addressed through the shed blood of Christ. In contrast, the wicked are those who rely on their own merit and believe they can do enough to be saved. Jesus then says that the angels will come and take out the wicked from the righteous, just as the fisherman separated the bad fish from the good.  And just as the bad fish was discarded, the evil ones, those who did not accept the work of Christ and relied on themselves and other ways to be made right with God would be cast into the lake of fire, where it says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

It is important that we do not rely on our goodness to save us. Just as a bad fish cannot become a good fish by what they do, wicked and unrighteous people cannot make themselves righteous based on what they do.  Only God, through the shed blood of Christ, can turn us from evil to good.  And He wants to do this for all people. But we must rely on Him to make it happen.  This message must be spread to all so they understand this truth.  And that is where we come in.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

John 6:9

Verse of the Day Devotion: John 6:9 

“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” – John 6:9  

Over the next week we will be looking at seven miraculous signs performed by Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of John.  These signs show that Jesus was not just some ordinary man but was truly the Son of God.  Today we will look at the fourth sign which is the feeding of the five thousand in the wilderness.

This miracle is unique in that it is the only miracle during the ministry of Christ that is recorded in all four gospels.  Jesus had just traveled to Tiberias on the other side of the Sea of Galilee and a great number followed Him.  According to John it was because of the signs which He performed on those who were sick.  Jesus then went up on the mountain with His disciples.  It is not said here the name of this mountain, but because of where the verse describes its location, it very well could be what is known today as the Golan Heights.

Now the Passover was coming up, but they remained in Galilee because of the Jews desire to get rid of Him. “And after these things Jesus was walking in Galilee; for He was unwilling to walk in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill Him.” John 7:1. There was a great multitude of people, and as they were coming, He asks Philip. “Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?” John 6:5. Jesus asked Philip this to test Him. “And this He was saying to test him; for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.” John 6:6. Philip responds telling Jesus that even if they all worked for several months, we would not have the money to feed them all. He could only think in traditional ways, and not beyond to the miraculous. According to D.A. Carson, “Since a substantial proportion of a worker’s wage went into daily food, this was, presumably, enough to provide for a family for eight months or a little longer. But the crowd was so large (v. 10) that even such a large sum of money would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Then Andrew pipes in. “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” John 6:9. Then Jesus responds. “Have the people sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So, the men sat down, in number about five thousand.” John 6:10. How was this going to work?” Now, Matthew clarifies the number of people as, “And there were about five thousand men who ate, aside from women and children.” Matthew 14:21. Based on the amount of food the young boy had, there would be about one loaf of bread for every one-thousand people. However, this did not stop Jesus. “Jesus therefore took the loaves; and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise, also of the fish as much as they wanted. And when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments that nothing may be lost.” John 6:11-12. How could there by any leftover food?  Well, there was. “And so, they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, which were left over by those who had eaten.” John 6:13. As you can see, there was a lot more leftovers than there was food available. There is no way to see this except that it was a miracle. 

Next, we see the purpose for this sign. “When therefore the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, this is of a truth the Prophet who is to come into the world.” John 6:14. They saw this as proof that Jesus was the prophet promised by God through Moses. “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” Deuteronomy 18:16. And, “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. But the prophet who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he shall speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. And you may say in your heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” Deuteronomy 18:18-22. The people find in the miraculous sign sufficient evidence to argue that Jesus is the expected Prophet who was to come into the world.

Christians should also be reminded that their problems are never too large (the “many” of John 6:9) for God to handle. Surely, Andrew was wondering, “What good are we going to do with only five loaves and two fish?” Theoretically, believers know God can easily multiply whatever He wants, to feed as many people as He wants, to meet the needs of all His people —He is God. The problem comes when we are faced with a practical outworking of the theory; we tend to doubt that God will want to meet our need. However, we must remember what Paul wrote to the Church in Philippi.  “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

John 21:9

(Editor’s Note: Christiaan here! William is doing well, still in the hospital but mostly out of danger. We prayerfully hope he’ll be able to return to writing devotions on Tuesday!)

Verse of the Day Devotion – John 21:9 (NLT)

“When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them – fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.” – John 21:9 (NLT)

We’re back in John. For a bit more back story, I definitely recommend you check out my previous two devotions on John 21:22 where I reference Peter’s reaction after the events of today, and John 21:7 where John gives us an account of what happened when Peter realized Jesus was on the shore and I talk about why it’s significant that Peter rushed towards the shore. But, in case, let’s do a quick, long story short.

Peter, the former fisherman turned fisher of men, and arguable leader of the disciples, loved Jesus. So much so that he easily boasted during the last supper that even if everyone else abandoned Jesus, he, Peter, wouldn’t. When Jesus was being arrested, Peter charged forward swinging his sword, missed the head, and hit the guard’s ear cutting if off. Jesus healed the ear, and Peter kept quiet and stayed behind after that. During the arrest and sham trial of Jesus, Peter and John, because of John’s family connections to the high priest, are allowed into the courtyard. It’s a cold night, and John is allowed to go into the house where he witnesses what happened to Jesus. Peter on the other hand is warming himself by the charcoal fire, and is asked about Jesus three times all of which he denies with increasing severity. Jesus is murdered on a cross, rises from the dead, and the account in John 21 is the third time that Jesus met with his disciples.

But, it wasn’t the third time Jesus had seen Peter. In Luke 24, Jesus appears to two unnamed people, who after speaking with him realize it’s Jesus and, as a pair, to tell the disciples that they saw Jesus, but their wording is interesting. “There they found the eleven disciples [therefore Peter was with the disciples] and the others who had gathered with them, who said, ‘The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.'” So, in the timeline, it looks like Jesus waited in the graveyard for Mary Magdalene, then went to see Peter. There is no account at what happened during this meeting!

In John 21 there’s a public meeting. Jesus is on the shore and he has breakfast waiting for them. Peter and Jesus had a conversation alone, and whatever was said had a profound effect on Peter. (One I’ll share why on Monday!) There’s something specific about this fire though, it’s a charcoal fire (greek word Anthrakia) and only the second time one is specified in a narrative as charcoal fires were not commonly made. However, John makes sure to point out that Jesus had made one, why?

Because this is the beginning of a beautiful series of moments of reconciliation, restoration, and ordination for Peter. Jesus recreated the setting of Peter’s denial of Jesus down to the same type of fire. Jesus then served all of the disciples, and after they eat John tells us that Jesus turns to Peter and asks three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon replies yes each time, and Jesus tells Peter to, ‘feed his lambs, take card of his sheep, and then to feed his sheep.’ A lot has been made of the different verbs used for Love and have argued that Peter just wasn’t replying the way Jesus wanted him to. But the recreation of Peter’s denial situation leads me to believe the simpler explanation, that even though not all the disciples weren’t there to see Peter deny Jesus, all of them got to see him AFFIRM his love for Jesus, and Jesus’s restoration of Peter.

Perhaps most importantly, we can look at Jesus’s actions as a point to question our own. If you were Jesus, who would you have entrusted to build your church and look after the following? The headstrong guy you had to keep correcting, who abandoned you in your darkest hour, and who lied, swore, and cursed himself to prove he didn’t know you… or someone like John, who was with you all the time, never rejected you, and you entrusted the care of your widowed mother to? My bet is on John. But Jesus chose Peter, because to Jesus, it wasn’t about what Peter had done in the past. Then, as if to finalize the reconciliation, Jesus tells Peter, to “Follow me” as he did back when they first met.

There’s so much significance, beauty, and intricacies, to be found in this passage, Jesus knows the future, he knows our hearts, he knows our minds. The Old Testament is riddled with instances of God giving commands to his people not for his sake, but for ours. He knows psychologically how we would respond, and he knew in Peter’s case that simply telling people he was forgiven, wouldn’t be enough, in Peter’s heart, to make up for what had happened. I believe that Jesus knew exactly what Peter would need to be able to be free of all doubts and guilt. This freed Peter to lead the first century church without questioning his role. Jesus gave Peter a second chance to be questioned not just about knowing Jesus but about loving Jesus and Peter was able to declare that he did in fact love Jesus. And if that wasn’t enough, Jesus ends that interaction by calling for Peter to follow him, reaffirming, that not only did Jesus forgive Peter, reconcile peter, but he was ordained and restored.

There are no lengths that Jesus won’t go to to reconcile and make all things new with those whom love him, so may you realize it. May you see that Jesus sees all the little things, all the often overlooked things, and whatever it is holding you back and is willing to overcome those things to meet you where you’re at so you can finally embrace him and who God has called you to be – even if it’s appearing on a shore before dawn to feed you and your friends fish and bread so you can make right your biggest and most embarrassing mistake without judgement or condemnation.