The Parable of the Net: When a Humpy Becomes a Halibut

by Tad Lindley

Jesus was such a phenomenal preacher that the messages he preached 2,000 years ago are still relevant today. Who would think that he could preach a parable way back then, to a different culture, in a different place, in a different language, and yet we can completely understand it today.

We were tossing the chums overboard

You probably remember when CVS started with the small fish plant in Quinhagak. Unable to handle the volume of fish, they put fishermen on limits. I forget now if it was 100 fish or 200 fish. Either way the end result was the same. With red salmon selling for $1.00 a pound and chums for 25¢, it’s no surprise that my friend told me just last night, “Everyone was tossing the chums overboard!”

How did Jesus know?

Jesus preached about this exact situation 2,000 years ago. Check it out: 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. (Matthew 13:47-48 NIV) I love this parable, because it is tuned in to our life today, but I wish it quit here, because Jesus kept preaching and it isn’t pretty.

Not really about the fish

So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:49-50) He went from something in our daily life straight out into eternity with nothing more than a period and “So shall it be…” It’s not about the fish, it’s about us. He was simply using fish to hook us, and now Jesus is preaching about souls and eternity.

Good fish, bad fish

The time will come when all those who have ever lived and all those who are alive and remain will be sorted out. Those who are saved will be kept, and the unrighteous will be cast away. We get a clearer picture of this when Jesus is talking to the Apostle John in Revelation: He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (21:7-8) The overcomers are the good fish and the fearful and unbelieving etc. are the bad fish.

A humpy can’t become a halibut

When you look at the price that fisherman get for humpies and compare it with the price for halibut, you realize that halibut might be worth 20 to 30 times more that humpies. And we might begin to think about the parable of the net and the fact that we are people who lead sin-stained lives and that in fact we might currently be struggling with fear or unbelief, that we might be living an immoral life, or in the past have had habits or addictions that led down dark paths. And we might begin to tell ourselves, “I’m a humpy in the eyes of God. No way would he want me.”

Humpy becomes a halibut

If God hadn’t come manifest in the flesh as Jesus Christ, if he had not been beaten and humiliated and tasted death on the cross, if he had not been buried and resurrected on the third day, then the parable of the net would be our utter condemnation. But he did do those things and now there is hope that if we are a spiritual humpy, we can become a halibut. Look at II Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Did you catch that? He is a new creature! That means maybe you were an undesirable thing in the past, but if you are in Christ, you are a different creature; a humpy can become a halibut.

How can I be in Christ?

If we are sincere about a life change and are willing to turn away from sin (repentance), then we are on our way to being in Christ. I know a lot of preachers say, “Accept the Lord as your personal Savior,” but that is not from the Bible. The parable of the net is pretty clear that it is about him accepting us. That starts with repentance, but it continues with baptism in Jesus’ name. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:27) If we want to become a new creature, we must be in Christ. Apparently 2,000 years ago the way the church taught this was that we needed to be baptized into Christ.

If you find yourself feeling like a spiritual humpy in the eyes of God and you want that to change, the time to become a new creature is now. In the words of the early church, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. (Acts 2:38-39)

Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.