“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net ...” (Matthew 13:47-51)

“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 fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Have you understood all these things?” (Matthew 13:47-51)

What does the 'net' symbolize?

Here Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a net let down to catch fish. Why a net? A net symbolizes the effort that the Supreme Being makes to bring us back to Him. God knows that we will only be happy when we re-establish our loving relationship with Him. The net symbolizes His process of bringing us out of the physical world and bringing those who want to return to Him back home.

The kingdom of heaven is about our relationship with God. The word "kingdom" is translated from the Greek word βασιλεία (basileia), meaning "royal power, kingship, dominion, rule; not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom."

Jesus is not referring to a physical location. He is referring to a particular consciousness. The consciousness of loving and serving the Supreme Being.

What does the 'end of the age' mean?

What does Jesus mean by the “end of the age”? Many have speculated a point in time in the future where the world ends and everyone is judged and sent to their respective places. This "apocalypse" scenario has been predicted by preachers and priests for centuries yet the end of the world has not come yet. Were they lying to us?

The problem with this theory is: Where do all the people go who die before this "apocalypse" arrives? To cover this “end of the age” interpretation, ecclesiastical teachers and their institutions have conjured a speculative concept called “purgatory.” This concept assumes that people will just wait in a limbo state after they die, waiting for the “end of the age.”

This would mean, of course, that billions upon billions of people have been waiting in this limbo state for thousands of years (all the way back to the dawning of man?). This ridiculous postulation means that trillions of people are hanging out in this purgatory state, all waiting to be judged and waiting for the "second coming." What are they doing all this time? Is it like a big Cocoon movie or something? Does this really make sense? And where did Jesus (or any prophet) say this?

This concept of purgatory is simply speculation based upon mistranslated and misinterpreted text. The word "age" is translated from the Greek word αἰών (aiōn), which means, according to the lexicon: "period of time, age."

The "age" that Jesus is speaking of is the "age" related to the lifespan of those he is speaking to. What other "age" could he be speaking of? Isn't he speaking personally to people regarding their spiritual welfare? Certainly, Jesus is not a historian, speaking in terms of a certain future event in time, an event that would occur outside the timeframe of those he was speaking to.

Thus, the “end of the age” Jesus spoke of relates to that day each physical body dies. Each of our bodies have an “age” right? And there is a day and time when each body dies, right? At this point, it is the end of our aging, right? So it is merely logical to conclude that the “end of the age” for each of us is the day each of our bodies dies.

The event of bodily death is common to each of us. Every body must die. Therefore, each of us shares a common event: our bodies will die, and they will cease to age, and thus this is the "end of the age."

We also understand that this is what takes place at the time of death - we are judged for our lifetimes and the angels will separate the "wicked form the righteous."

The word "righteous" comes from the Greek word δίκαιος (dikaios), which means "observing divine laws" according to the lexicon. This relates to following the Supreme Being's instructions, as coming from Him or His representatives. This means becoming devoted to the Supreme Being.

Why has this been misunderstood?

The key reason Jesus' statement has been misinterpreted is because of a lack of understanding regarding our identity. This is the key essence of Jesus' teachings:
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." (Matthew 10:27)

“Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
(Matthew 8:22)

"The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (Matthew 25:42 and Mark 14:39)

"But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." (Luke 12:5)
Let's get real here. Dead bodies do not dance on graves, nor do they wait in purgatory. They decompose. This is verified scientifically simply by digging up a buried body. In fact, during the body's lifetime, every molecule in our body is recycled at least every five years (also scientifically established).

This means the body we wear today is a different body we wore five years ago. What is constant? We still exist, yet our body is constantly changing composition. What remains unchanged is the living spirit - the person - the soul - who temporarily occupies the physical body for a temporary period of time (“the age”).

What takes place upon our leaving the body at the time of death? This has been confirmed among thousands of cases of clinical death: Once a person's body clinically dies, the person floats above the body, watching it as it lies at the deathbed. Following this view of the body, the person is carried to a place where they are judged, and their life flashes before them (this is also referred to as "Judgment Day").

For clinical death patients who have revived to tell about this experience (hundreds of thousands have), this is usually where they turn around and head back into the body. For those whose body dies completely, Jesus describes above about our fate:

How will the 'angels come and separate the wicked'?

Each of us is sorted according to the activities and desires carried out during our lifetimes, just as the fishermen sorted the fish in Jesus' parable: "Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away."

Should we have used this lifetime for our selfish physical ambitions, we will be "thrown away" into hellish circumstances exactly appropriate to our actions (“as you sow, so shall you reap”). If we have utilized our life to renew our relationship with the Supreme Being, then we will be escorted (by "angels" as Jesus says) back home to God.

This "Judgment Day" takes place for each one of us individually just after our body dies. There is no group “waiting room” where we all wait in “purgatory” for some future date. Why would God need to have such a cumbersome process? He is the Supreme Being. This is the same God who created the universe. This is a God that designed this perfect virtual reality (the physical universe) to allow us to get away from Him, yet provides us with a constant supply of lessons to help us grow and possibly - if we choose to - return to Him.

What about the 'gnashing of teeth and weeping'?

What are the physics of this? The body is dead. The teeth are decomposing. The eyes also decompose so there can be no weeping. Thus the only way for this to occur is if the spiritual soul is given a new body, complete with teeth that can “gnash” and eyes that can “weep.”

In other words, after the death of this body, the self-centered soul is pushed into a new physical body within new circumstances. And what would those circumstances be? They are specifically supplied in the form of a unique physical body - designed precisely to suffer the consequences of the choices we made in our previous physical body.

This also answers that question posed by many about why there is suffering in the world. Why are some born into situations where they are subject to starvation, war and rape, while others are born into nice situations? Why are some born into healthy bodies and others are born into sick or deformed bodies? Does this mean that God is not fair - they ask?

The Supreme Being is certainly fair. Those who are born into hellish situations are simply experiencing the consequences of what they inflicted upon others. They are experiencing suffering precisely as they caused others to suffer.

The Supreme Being set up a perfect system. We get put into precisely the situations we created for others when we had a choice. This is the true definition of "reaping what we have sown." This also allows the state of "gnashing of teeth and weeping" that Jesus is describing.

Each of us who occupies a physical body is living in a relative degree of hell, depending upon our consciousness and consequences from past activities. Our body is designed to teach us lessons. And whatever our body's physical suffering, this is caused by our previous choices.

But we are always offered a way out of this hellish system.

Should we choose to use our lifetimes to re-develop our relationship with the Supreme Being, we will be like the "good fish" of Jesus' parable. At the time of our body's death (the "end of the age") we will be able to leave this hellish dimension and return to the spiritual dimension. We will be carried back home by the angels into the loving arms of God, Who has been patiently awaiting our return to Him.