“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Jesus talked far more about judgment, gnashing of teeth, blazing furnaces and hell than most of us are comfortable with. The whole concept of a final judgment upsets our modern, enlightened, tolerant sensibilities. There are no bad fish, just fish who do bad things! We might rather ignore some of what Jesus said than face the hard realities He so often taught, and when it comes to people being thrown into a blazing furnace, it might be easier for us just to look the other way. But Jesus said it, and we believe his words are true, so we better deal with it.
Anytime we read about the coming judgment of all mankind in the Bible, we should bear in mind two critical truths. First, you and I and everyone we know deserves every harsh judgment Jesus ever talked about. We are low-down, no-good sinners, and in God’s perfect justice, He must condemn people like us to the blazing furnace. Eternal suffering and separation from God is our rightful due. Second, Jesus died and rose again to save us from the fires of hell. If you have accepted Jesus’ free offer of new life through faith in his name, then you don’t need to fear the final judgment. Your sin has already been forgiven. You have already been redeemed. You have been declared righteous in God’s sight. Not because you are good, but because Jesus paid the price to set you free, according to the wonderful grace of God.
Jesus came proclaiming good news, not judgment and condemnation. Yes, there will be a final judgment, and some sinners will be forever cast away from God’s glorious presence. That Biblical truth is undeniable, but so is the amazing assurance that Jesus came to save sinners. He came to make it possible for everyone who trusts in him, to become good fish destined for everlasting peace in heaven. That’s the good news Jesus taught, and the message of salvation we still share today.
Father in Heaven, Your justice is perfect, and Your grace is wonderful. Thank You for forgiving my sin and promising me a place in heaven. Help me to share with others the good news of Jesus my Savior, through whom I pray. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian