Summary: This sermon looks at and compares how a Christians life should be like that of salt to others.
5th Epiphany 2011
Matthew 5: 13-20
Are you salty?
This week I heard someone ask this question about the church, it asked, “If your church was removed tomorrow from your neighborhood, from the community, would anybody notice?” I know YOU would notice, but what about the people in our community?
I thought about it, and realized that we would have some Parents who might notice if they tried to drop off their kids for Sunday School and we were gone, that’s an important need in our community that we as a church are trying to meet.
Then I asked myself, and I ask you this morning; “If you were removed from your neighborhood, and from the community, would anybody notice?” What would people miss the most about you? What would they miss the least?
In Matthew 5:13-16, we read, "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
In this passage, Jesus gives us no explicit explanation of the word pictures of salt and light that he uses in these verses, unlike the Parable of the Sower in chapter thirteen, where he tells us exactly what he wants us to understand. Here the reader is left to come to an understanding of these images on the basis of how these things are used in the world around them. We must then seek to understand “What Is It That We Are To Understand About Salt, And How Are Christian’s Like Salt?”
First, Christians Like Salt Are Of Infinite Value.
Jesus said to his followers “You are the salt of the earth.” But we miss something in the modern English translation; the KJV translates this verse “YE are the salt of the earth.” Now “Ye” is a good Southern word, it means “Ya’ll” (that is “you all” for you people that are not of Southern origin). Jesus is saying, “You all are the salt of the earth.”
Jesus refers to his handful of basically uneducated disciples and referred to them as the salt of the earth. What great dignity Jesus bestows on his followers. What a great compliment! Because in Jesus’ day, salt was a necessity of life and thus great value was attached to it. Salt was so important that it was sometimes used for money. The Roman soldiers of Jesus’ day were at times paid with it. In fact, our word “salary” comes from the Latin word “salarium” which referred to the payments to the soldiers with salt. We still use the phrase saying that someone either is, or is not, “worth their salt.” We don’t think much about salt today because we can get as much of it in pure form as we want. It is just that little bottle with holes in the top on the table. But when you are completely dependent on salt to preserve your food, and when it is so valuable that it is used in the place of money, you get a completely different perspective on salt.
Let me explain this. Because we live in a part of the world where we have a wide variety of food we don’t understand the limited diet of those who lived in Jesus’ day. Today if you were to travel to a third world country you could get a better picture of what Jesus is speaking of. In a great portion of the world rice is the common food, three times a day. In part of Africa today the main food is corn meal, at every meal. Without salt to make it palatable, it would be difficult to continue to swallow the same old food, time after time. In Job 6:6 the Bible says, “Can flavorless food be eaten without salt?” For this one reason alone salt is indispensable.
Christians Like Salt Are Of Infinite Value and…Second, Christians Like Salt Act As A Preservative.
Salt was important for survival in Jesus’ day, because it was the only way they had to preserve meat. Obviously, they were not as privileged as we are with refrigeration, so salt became very important in their ability to preserve their food. The salt was rubbed into the meat before it was stored. The Salt was to arrest or at least to hinder the process of decay, so too Christians are given the task of arresting the decay of our world.