By Brooke Holt
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.” Matthew 5:13
Imagine yourself on the mountain with Jesus as he taught the crowd. At this point in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is teaching the Sermon on the Mount. He has just concluded the list of “blessed” statements (known as the Beatitudes) – blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted. Can you fathom the energy in the air, the curiosity peaking among those listening to Jesus that day?
Then, Jesus moves from these Beatitudes to two “you are” statements: “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). Now these statements may make you quite curious, but they were clear to the people of that day. Salt played a vital role in their lives. It was important as a preservative and also used to enhance the flavor of food. The saying “worth your salt” exemplifies the value the ancient world put on salt.
So what did Jesus mean when he said that his followers were to be "the salt of the earth"? Jesus wanted these people to see their incredible value in society. Many of his listeners were the poor, the downtrodden, and the outcasts of their day. Yet, they were the ones called by God to build his kingdom. They were the ones God entrusted with the most important message ever delivered – the message of the Messiah.
Jesus wanted them to see beyond the ways of the world, to recognize that they were chosen and precious, and then for them to live in the way of Jesus – the way of the beatitudes. In living this way, God would be seen and recognized as their lives would stand out from those around them.
We must recognize here that it was not just individuals that Jesus wanted to live as salt but communities. The disciples of Jesus Christ were and are to relate to one another as Jesus related to them: to love one another, to forgive, to exemplify those attributes taught in the Beatitudes. Can you imagine a community that demonstrated mercy, peacemaking, righteousness, and purity of heart? A society that cared for the poor and for those who mourn? That was and is the way of Jesus and the calling of the church then and the church today.
Are you living as salt? Is your church? Are you exemplifying the ways of the Beatitudes? The Lord longs for you to fulfill this high and holy calling in your life and in your church. May you see your value as a disciple of the Lord today!
What aspects of salt does the Lord want to work in you today – seeing your worth, preserving the teachings of Jesus Christ, or living in the ways of Jesus? Perhaps he wants to work in each of these areas. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Jesus’ great commission to his apostles after his resurrection was to go into all the world to preach, teach, and baptize in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. From the very beginning, baptism has been understood as the doorway into this new kind of family. Explore what Jesus expects of this new family that finds its origin and purpose in him. The baptized are called into a new life of faith. From passages in Matthew to the shining examples of faith in our passage from John, Waters of Baptism is a helpful resource for those seeking the sacrament of baptism or those who want a deeper understanding of their faith. This six week study will help us understand the importance of baptismal living.
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