Summary: A sermon about being what Jesus calls us to be.
"Salt and Light"
I often don't feel like "salt" and "light."
I can be pretty self-centered.
I often say things I shouldn't say and do things I shouldn't do.
I'm not always nice.
And I would imagine that Jesus' first disciples probably felt pretty much the same way.
Our Gospel Lesson breaks in on the beginning of Jesus' famous "Sermon on the Mount" which starts at Matthew Chapter 5 and moves all the way through to the end of Matthew Chapter 7.
And this sermon contains some of Jesus' most provocative, earth-shaking, and radical teachings!!!
At this very early point in Jesus' ministry, He has been traveling throughout Galilee, "teaching in...synagogues," announcing the good news of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of diseases and sicknesses.
So, it should come as no surprise that a sort-of snowball effect is beginning to take place.
More and more people are following Jesus from one place to another.
We are told that "News spread about him throughout Syria" and "Large crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from areas beyond the Jordan River."
And these large crowds brought to Jesus "all those who had various kinds of diseases, those in pain, those possessed by demons, those with epilepsy, and those who were paralyzed, and he healed them."
What are we to compare this too?
There had to have been--literally--thousands of folks who were tagging along with Jesus at this point.
And the majority of these people, the greatest percentage of those in the crowd were most likely people who were in some pretty desperate straits.
They probably weren't the bankers, the leaders of government, the people in charge, the folks who could afford to live in luxury and opulence.
More than likely, they were the sick, the homeless, the ramblers, the beggars, the poor, the dirty, the desperate, the unhappy.
And so in verse 1 of Matthew Chapter 5 we are told that "when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountain.
He sat down and his disciples came to him."
And then He began to speak, and teach and preach:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek..."
And He goes on and on...
...He's pretty much describing His disciples and the crowds who are gathered on down the mountainside, listening in.
Then Jesus says a pretty scary thing which is: "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
And right after that, Jesus speaks directly to the disciples and thus, directly to you and me and says: "You are the salt of the earth...
You are the light of the world..."
I would imagine that if the disciples understood, even a little of what Jesus had said before this, they weren't particularly happy about His commissioning them and naming them "salt" and "light."
Because salt and light stand out!!!
Salt and light are noticed.
Salt and light can't be missed.
My guess is that, at this point, the disciples may have looked around at each other--each of them wondering: "What have I gotten myself into?"
"Suddenly I am not sure I want to be doing this anymore."
And Jesus, seeing their fearful glances, adds: "But if salt loses its saltiness...It's good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people's feet...
...A city on a hill can't be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket.
Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven."
In other words, there's no getting out of it folks.
If you are going to follow Me, you are going to be noticed!!!
You are going to make a positive difference in this world.
And people aren't always gonna like you for it.
Now, in telling His disciples, His followers of every moment in history that we are "the light of the world" and "the salt of the earth" He isn't telling us that we are exceptionally strong or good.
He's not telling us that we are any better than anyone else.
What He is basically saying is: "If you follow Me you are a member of the Kingdom of God..."
..."If you follow me, this Kingdom Movement is not about you. It's not even about the good YOU will do or the truth YOU will bring."