THEME: A Warning
Jesus’ parable tells us that the final separation of the saved from the unsaved is awning.
“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.“Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
In the second century before Christ, the great rival to Roman power in the Mediterranean world was Carthage, the Phoenician city-state located on the north African coast. It had been founded in 822 B.C. and had become so powerful that for years it threatened the supremacy of Rome. What was to be done about Carthage? One Roman senator, Marcus Porcius Cato the elder, thought he knew—Carthage should be overthrown. From the time he arrived at that conclusion, it is said he never made a speech before the Roman Senate on any topic that did not end with the warning: Carthago delenda est (“Carthage must be destroyed”). At last the warnings got through, and as the outcome of the third Punic War, Carthage was annihilated.
Cato’s technique in dealing with the threat of Carthage is not the only time in history a point has been won by repetition. We think of Hitler repeating his lies against the Jews until seemingly the whole of Germany believed them; or in quite a different way, of Winston Churchill telling the boys at the public school where he had been educated, “Never give up! Never, never, never give up!”
The Lord Jesus Christ used repetition, too, and nowhere is it more evident than in the parables of the kingdom recorded in Matthew 13. There are very few points in any one of those parables that are not repeated in some form in at least one of the others. One point is that the work of the kingdom, begun by Jesus, is like sowing seed in a field. That is taught in the first parable on the different kinds of soil, and is repeated in the second, which tells of the devil’s work in sowing tares among the wheat. The work of the devil is likewise repeated, if our understanding of the fourth and fifth parables is correct. He hinders God’s work by sowing bad seed (parable two), encouraging an unnatural and secular church growth (parable three), and causing even the lives of true believers to be weakened by sin (parable four), Parables five and six, those of the hidden treasure and the valuable pearl, teach that the people of the kingdom are so changed by God that they perceive the value of Salvation through Jesus Christ and give everything they have to obtain it.
When we come to the last of the parables we find more repetition, Jesus introduces a new imagery (fishing), but the parable makes essentially the same points as parable two. The earlier parable told of wheat and tares growing up together until the time of the harvest. Then there is a gathering in of both followed by a separation. The wheat is gathered into the owner’s barns; the tares are burned. In this, the last of the parables, there is also a gathering in of many kinds of fish followed by a separation of the good fish from the bad. In both parables Jesus describes a separation of the wicked from the righteous. We see the work of the angels. We even have a repetition of keyphrases from Christ’s explanation of the second parable: “the end of the age” (vv.40-49), and “throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vv.42-50).
Why did Jesus repeat his themes in many of the parables?
What points were repeated and in which parables?
Identify the new image introduced in the last parable. How does this compare with the parable of the wheat and tares?
Repetition is used in the Bible to make important points