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.Matthew 13:47-50
This parable is very similar to the wheat and tares parable earlier in this chapter. Both of these parables speak about the same event – the general resurrection and judgment at the end of time. But whereas the former parable seems to focus on the liberation of the righteous, this parable’s focus is on the sure judgment and punishment of the wicked.
In every aspect of life here on earth, the wicked are among the righteous, even in some churches! But as John the Baptist told those he baptized in Jordan, Jesus is coming and He will “throughly purge His floor.” (Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17)
Therefore, even if there are false professors and wolves in sheep’s clothing that have infiltrated churches, Jesus will sever them from among His sheep. Consider the language of Matthew 25:
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.Matthew 25:31-33
Even at the time of judgment the elect have nothing to fear. Jesus says He is a Shepherd, not a judge toward them. His act as a judge will be like a Shepherd protecting His sheep from danger. Those that are severed from among the elect are described as wicked or “the goats.” These will be cast away into everlasting torment.
What I find comforting in this parable is that the righteous are described as being placed in vessels. When the general judgment happens, the elect will be once again declared righteous by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ and they will be placed in safety forever. What a blessed hope! Their joy will be eternal.