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Summary: The overall theme of the great Sermon on the Mount by the Lord is how people of the Kingdom of Heaven are to live. Jesus now shows how, “Those who are His disciples should affect the world in the positive way in which they live.”

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“Called to Be Salt and Light.”

Matthew 5:13-16

We have now concluded our study of the Beatitudes which serve as an introduction to Jesus’ great “Sermon the Mount.” Each of the Beatitudes was an invitation to self-examination. An invitation to see if we are what we say we are spiritually. It is an invitation to determine if one is really committed or only knows the truth intellectually. Among the audience that day were individuals who knew that Jesus was the Messiah, but who had never committed their lives to Him. The same may be true of some of you today.

The overall theme of this great sermon by the Lord is how people of the Kingdom of Heaven are to live. Jesus was saying, “Those who are My disciples should affect the world in a positive way by the way in which they live.”

"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. (14)You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. (15) 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. (16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Unlike some of the parables Jesus teaches where He tells the reader what He wants them to understand, here He gives us no explicit explanation of the word pictures of salt and light that He uses in these verses. 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 Light And How Are Christian’s Like Salt and Light?”

First, What Does It Mean To Be the Salt of the Earth? (5:13)

“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.”

• The Meaning

Jesus said to His followers “You are the salt of the earth.” This is one of those places where I think 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 not of Southern origin). Jesus is saying, “You all of you are the salt of the earth.”

What did Jesus mean? Jesus refers to His handful of basically uneducated disciples and referred to them as the salt of the earth. What a great compliment! Because salt was a necessity of life in ancient times 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 or “salt money” which referred to the pay-ments to the soldiers with salt. Whenever we use the phrase saying that someone either is, or is not, “worth their salt” it is a carryover of the idea of the high value that salt had in biblical times.


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