2/27/2020 – The Parable of the Net
Passage: Matthew 13:47-50
Written By: Remy Wells – Undergrad
History can be interpreted from many perspectives. There is almost always a winning side and losing side in history, and history is different based on which side you ask. No matter which side you ask, the both seemingly are trying to remove, in a sense, the other side’s policies, power, or people altogether. I recently learned in my Early National and Antebellum America history class of one such case: The American presidential election of 1800 pitted bitter political rivals against one another. Incumbent President John Adams was coming off a rough four years filled with both domestic and international struggles. His opponent, Thomas Jefferson, had known Adams for years, but the two had never seen eye-to-eye and were always at odds with each other. Neither candidate was overly popular, so the race was tight from the beginning. Because of this, Adams and Jefferson resorted to something that had never occurred in any previous American presidential election – slandering each other. To do this, the two candidates hired people to smear the other person’s name and spread rumors about the opposing candidate in order to make their own popularity grow. John Adams went so far as to spread the rumor that Thomas Jefferson had died in order to decrease his popularity in the states at the time. This rumor actually worked! Because newspapers took so long to circulate during that time, it was a while before this rumor reached Jefferson for him to put a stop to it. In a sense, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson tried to “rid” each other from their presidential race in order to lift the burden in the election and lower their competition. While this may seem like a weird and extreme example, Adams’ and Jefferson’s actions in this election depict a theme that is important to many of us throughout the season of Lent.
While the parable of the net is often related to the final judgment, a different interpretation of this passage from the notes in my study Bible really focused on ridding oneself of bad influences. As it says in verse 48, “Then [the fishermen] sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.” This, to me, symbolizes separating the good things from the bad in your life and throwing those bad influences out of your life completely. While reflecting on this passage, I was reminded of the ‘giving up’ part of Lent. I think this passage really interprets the perception that many have on giving things up for Lent. Every year in the days leading up to Lent, we rack our brains trying to think of things that are bad for us that we could live forty days without. Often, we think of food items, like sweets, chips, or sodas. Others give up social media or other electronically related things that occupy time in their lives. Some people even joke about giving up doing chores for Lent. While all of these are great things to give up for Lent for the right intentions, I think, however, that the parable of the net is calling us deeper as far as the things we give up in our lives, both in Lent and beyond. It is telling us rid to ourselves of the bad influences in our lives. This can be things like negative social media, adverse relationships, or anything that occupies your time so much that it gets in the way of your relationship with God. I think that is truly what this parable is teaching us. While it may have implications of the final judgement, the parable of the net tells us that we must rid ourselves of the negative influences in our lives and grow closer to God in order to be one of the good fish in the end and not be thrown away.
While ridding yourself of something might not be as harsh as trying to remove a political opponent from a race, the methods that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams used against one another might not have been too far off in terms of the effort that we should put into eliminating things from our lives. These two opponents put in the maximum effort and used every means necessary to expel each other from the election. Likewise, we should give it our all to remove things from our lives that stand in the way of our relationship with God. If we try to get rid of something that God does not want us to discard from our lives, don’t worry; He will intervene and make it right.
In closing, I invite you to reflect on these words from Hebrews 12:1-2, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” This Lenten season, I challenge you to find the things you need to rid yourself of in order to truly fix your eyes on Jesus and grow closer in your relationship with Him.
Dear Lord, thank You for the season of Lent as it serves as a time for us to reflect on our relationships with You. Help us to remember the parable of the net as we look for the things that truly get in the way of our walk with You. Help us to rid ourselves of the bad influences in our lives and become good fish as we grow in our faith and seek to do the work of Your kingdom. Amen.