We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
–2 Corinthians 5:20
In the parable of the fish in Matthew 13, Jesus warned about the suffering of unbelievers. Based on His teaching, we know that hell is a place of eternal, physical suffering, and it is also a place of sorrow. We see that in the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. Look at what the rich man said in verses 27-28 while he was suffering in hades: “I beg you, father, that you send [Lazarus] to my father’s house–for I have five brothers–in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” This man was in absolute agony in the flames, but he was still thinking about his family members who were alive on earth. And he was saying, “Whatever you do, Abraham, help them to know the truth.”
If you are a parent, are you as concerned about your children’s spiritual well-being as you are their physical well-being, their scholastic achievements, and their athletic accomplishments? Do you know for sure that your children are safe from God’s judgment? I cannot think of anything worse than to spend all eternity knowing that I failed to lead my children to know Christ as Savior, and they are going to be damned forever because I failed to show them the way of the way of escape. That is the sorrowful suffering that will accompany unbelievers.
Jesus closed the parable of the fish with an application. He said to his disciples in Matthew 13:51, “Have you understood all these things?” In the Bible, to understand means to understand to the point that you are willing to do something about the truth that you heard. Jesus was saying, “Are you willing to make a change in your life as a result of this truth?”
If you are an unbeliever and you fail to respond to Jesus’s words here, you are without excuse before God. God has warned us of the awful fate that awaits those who die without Christ. But there is also an application in this parable for Christians. In fact, Jesus was talking to His own disciples here. He was preparing them for their ministry. He was saying, “This is the reason I am sending you out: to warn people of what happens to those who die without Me.” You cannot read this parable and understand it without being concerned about that neighbor, that mate, that friend, that child of yours who does not know Christ. If you really understand what Jesus was saying, you will do everything you can to plead with that person, to convince them to accept God’s way of escape.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Good Fish And The Bad Fish” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2005.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org