Matthew 13:47-50 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 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.
It is true that the Jewish nation was not a seagoing people. However, their livelihood relied heavily on fishing and the agricultural processes of raising crops and livestock. Salt water fish came primarily from the Mediterranean Sea while the Sea of Galilee provided an abundance of fresh water fish. History tells us that fresh, as well as cured, fish were generally available daily in marketplaces throughout the Palestinian area. Although other methods were used, fishing with throw nets and dragnets were the most common method of commercially catching fish for marketing.
As an example of dragnet fishing, read the wonderful story of Peter, James, and John as recorded in the Luke 5:1-11. They were partners, and, by profession, fishermen. Jesus met them and entered one of their two boats in order to teach His disciples from this vantage point. Afterwards, Jesus told Peter to launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. Peter replied, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing, but he still did as Jesus requested. Immediately they were rewarded by catching a great multitude of fishes that filled both the ships. They were astonished, and when Jesus told them henceforth thou shalt catch men ...they forsook all, and followed Him. Another event occurred using the dragnet and is recorded in John 21:1-14. Here, after His resurrection, Jesus appears to His disciples for the third time at the Sea of Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) and desired to eat with them. Having caught no fish, Jesus told them to cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. Doing so, they caught a multitude of fishes. After landing the catch, fish and bread was prepared and the disciples dined with the resurrected Lord. Both of these events well describe fishing with the use of the dragnet. By using this fishing technique in this parable, His disciples could easily understand the lesson Jesus was teaching.
Jesus currently sits on His throne and is the Divine Ruler of the kingdom of heaven having dominion over all things in heaven and on earth. His kingdom on earth is his church, the body of Christ, made up of saints that have obeyed New Testament commandments by which they were added to His church. The word of God tells us all we need to know about becoming a Christian, growing in faith, and living an obedient life by demonstrating our love for God and for our fellow man. In this parable, as well as the parable of the tares, Jesus teaches us about the Day of Judgment.
The seas are full of all kinds of fishes. There are good and bad fishes; some are edible and some are not. The dragnet does not discern as it is drawn through the waters of the sea, and gathers all fishes in its path. When drawn on board or on shore, fishermen sort through the catch, save the good edible fish, and cast away or destroy those that are undesirable. In the kingdom of heaven, Judgment Day is likened to this fishing process. The sea represents the world, and is filled with all people - good and evil, obedient and disobedient, children of God and children of the world. The dragnet represents the kingdom of heaven as described by the word of God. It is the New Covenant He established through the promised Messiah, His Son, Jesus Christ. It is this dragnet that will catch and accumulate all people of the world.
Some theologians think that the separation of people, the good from the bad, is to be done on earth by ministers, elders, and other so-called "holy men of God". However, it is obvious from this parable that the dragnet is still plying the waters of the world collecting all mankind. It has not yet been closed and drawn on board or on shore. This will take place, as taught in the parable of the tares, on Judgment Day. As fishermen separated the good fish from the bad, on this day the angels of heaven 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. Such is the word of God, and such are His guidelines by which the angels of heaven shall separate the wicked from among the just. Such is the message of Jesus in this parable.