Summary: It verse 11 it seems like Jesus’ attention is turned from the multitude to His disciples.
The Preaching of the King – Part 7
In verse 10 Jesus said the blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake. It verse 11 it seems like Jesus’ attention is turned from the multitude to His disciples. Persecution is the usual experience of God’s people, but it is the special portion of His servants. This is confirmed in verse 12, where the maligned ambassadors of the Lord are told, “For in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” The ambassadors of the Lord are in the same position as the "prophets" of old, namely those called of God to act as His mouthpiece and interpret His will. Additional proof is found in what immediately follows, where after further designating them the "light of the world" Jesus added, "A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” a figure fitly pertinent to the ambassadors of the Lord who are made a light in the world. What Jesus said in verse 15 plainly pertains to the ambassadors of the Lord rather than to their hearers, for the candle on a candlestick again speaks of official office, and the giving "light to all that are in the house" is plainly the one man ministering to the many.
In chapter 4 verse 19, Jesus calls Peter and Andrew to be fishers of men. In verses 13 and 14 of chapter 5 Jesus tells His disciples what His plan for them is and what will be expected of them. It is only in recent generations, when the spirit of socialism has invaded the religious realm, that this passage has been applied to Christians. The two symbols used to describe Jesus’ plan for His ambassadors and what is expected of them has a definite purpose. He tells them they are to be like salt. Using the world salt is to humble them. Salt is cheap, common, and insignificant. He uses the word “light” to encourage them. Light is illuminating and conspicuous.
The ambassadors of the Lord resemblance salt in their labors. They are to preach and teach the Word, both Law and Gospel, in such a way as to express the qualities of salt. When salt is applied to raw flesh it will sting. It is annoying. When applied meat it makes meat savory to our taste, it preserves meat from putrefaction by drawing out of it superfluous moisture. Salt is an indispensable necessity of life. It is God’s great antiseptic in a sphere of decay. It is wrought into the very rocks and soil of earth so that the waters filtering through them become purified. It is a necessary element of the blood, which is the life of our bodies. How well suited it is then as a figure of the truth, by which means the soul is sanctified, as salt arrests natural corruption, so the Word of God arrests moral corruption. This figure, then, furnishes clear direction to every minister of God as to his manner of preaching. Since the Word alone is the savory salt whereby souls are seasoned for the Lord, then it ought to be dispensed purely and sincerely. If salt is mixed with dust and rubbish it loses its pungency and efficacy, and if the Word is mingled with levity or exciting anecdotes its power is nullified.
This figure plainly warns the minister it is "salt" and not sugar coated candy he is to use in his preaching and teaching. Something which the ungodly are more inclined to spit out than swallow with a smile, something which is calculated to bring water to the eyes rather than laughter to the lips. The minister, then, must not expect faithful preaching to be acceptable and popular. Faithful preaching is contrary to human nature. Those whose consciences are pricked are not pleased with those who wound them. The ambassadors of the Lord must be prepared for to face the displeasure and opposition of the ungodly. This is a testimony that their ministry is “salt” that it has bitten into the depravity of their people. Instead of being discouraged and dismayed they are to endeavoring to season their congregation more and more with the pure salt of God’s Word.
The responsibility of the hearer is to receive instruction from this figure and see what he is in himself by nature: depraved and corrupt, as unsavory flesh and stinking carrion in the nostrils of God. This should humble us and cause us to lay aside all pride and self-righteousness. Every one must learn to suffer the word of reproof, whereby secret sins are discovered and denounced. When our conscience is searched we must be willing for salt to be rubbed into it, for mortification precedes salvation. We must be willingly seasoned with this heavenly salt so that the thoughts of our heart, the words of our mouth, and the actions of our life may be acceptable to God. If we sit under the ministry of the Word, oral or written, and is not seasoned by it our actions are doubly evil (Judges 9:45).