[Jesus said:] “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:47-50 ESV
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15 ESV
Sometimes when a terrible crime has been committed and the person who committed the crime hasn’t been caught, police might do something that is called a dragnet. What this means is that there might be roadblocks in the area where the crime happened and no one is allowed to drive past these roadblocks until the police check them and let them through. Or perhaps all the people in an area will be stopped in their cars or as they are walking and checked out by the police. Good police officers want to separate the good people from the bad people and catch criminals who need to be arrested, while letting innocent people go free.
Jesus talked about the kind of fishing net called a dragnet, and how fishermen threw this net into the water and dragged it along and caught every fish that swam through it. Then the fishermen sat on the shore and kept all the good fish but threw the bad fish back into the water. He said that this was like the end of the world, when God’s angels will bring all the people before his throne and separate the wicked people from the righteous people, and throw the wicked people into hell. While police officers and fishermen might sometimes make a mistake, we can be sure that God and his angels won’t make any mistakes.
It is very frightening to think about this. We know that we are sinful and do wrong things, and we wonder how we can ever be sure that we will be saved from hell and welcomed into heaven. If God judges us by the things we do in our life, we couldn’t ever be saved. But the good news is that God sent Jesus to live the perfect life that we could never live. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins and for the sins of the whole world. We who believe in Jesus have all our sins forgiven every day, and because of Jesus we can be sure that we are God’s people and will live forever in his heavenly kingdom.
Dear Jesus, thank you for paying for our sins on the cross so that we can be forgiven and don’t ever have to be afraid of your judgment. Amen.