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.”
“Called to Be Salt and Light.”
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.
• The Application
According to the Salt Institute, there are over 14,000 uses for salt. So I will just briefly, describe each one! (Just kidding) I want us to notice two of salts primary uses. First, it is a seasoning. Second, it is a preservative. This is no doubt its main use and it is to this use that I want us look today. Salt was essential for survival in the days prior to refrigeration because it was the only way they had to preserve meat. The salt was rubbed into the meat before it was stored. 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.
Christianity has in fact had a profound positive effect on the world. The most dramatic impact of Christianity on the world is that it has attached new value to human life. Prior to Christianity infanticide, and abandonment of children was a common practice. Hospitals as we now know them began through influence of Christianity. The Red Cross was started by an evangelical Christian. Almost every one of the first 123 colleges and universities in the United States has Christian origins, founded by Christians for Christian purposes. The same could be said of orphanages, adoption agencies, humane treatment of the insane, the list goes on and on of the dramatic impact of Christianity in our world. [D. James Kennedy. “What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?” (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1994) pp.3- 4]