Summary: Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth and the light for the world. He compared our relationship to the world with salt and light. What does this mean? Why does Jesus compare us to salt and light? What is the significance related to this?


We are busy with a series on the Sermon on the Mount.

Last week we discussed the beatitudes and we looked at the characteristics of a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.

We then proceeded to look at the benefits of being a citizen of the Kingdom of heaven.

This week we look at the next part of the sermon, namely our relationship to the world.

For that we read the following:


Matthew 5:13-16 GW

(13) "You are salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, how will it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people.

(14) "You are light for the world. A city cannot be hidden when it is located on a hill.

(15) No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. Instead, everyone who lights a lamp puts it on a lamp stand. Then its light shines on everyone in the house.

(16) In the same way let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven.


In our scripture this morning Jesus compared us, the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, to two things.

He compares us to:

• Salt and

• Light

He explains, in this piece of scripture, what our relationship to the world should look like.

The question now stands as follows:

Why did Jesus compare our relationship with the world to salt and light?

Why did he use those two items?

What is the significance of salt and light that Jesus would use it?

Let’s look at this more in depth.

We will start with salt.

Jesus said that:


The confusion

When we read the following part of scripture:

(13) "You are salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, how will it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people.

It might lead to some confusion.

You see, the importance that salt had in the time of Jesus have significantly changed in our time.

Some of the ways that it was used also changed.

Salt, in Jesus’ time, was a precious commodity.

In fact, it was so significant that, as some suggested, Roman soldiers were sometimes paid in salt.

This is not entirely correct.

Let me explain.

You have heard the expression: He is worth his salt.

This expression means that a person is worth his or her pay, his salary.

The word “salary” actually derives from the Latin word “salarium”

“Sal” is the Latin word for salt.

Now there is some debate over the origin of the word “salarium” but most scholars agrees that it was the money that the Roman soldiers were allowed for to purchase salt.

How this worked was that the soldiers were required to buy their own food, weapons, etc.

These costs would be deducted from their wages in advanced, but there would be some money left to allow them to buy salt.

So they weren’t actually paid in salt, but paid money for salt.

When we look at the Greeks we see that they considered salt to be divine.

And when we look at Moses’ Law we read the following in:

Leviticus 2:13 GW

(13) Also put salt on each of your grain offerings. The salt of God's promise must never be left out of your grain offerings. Put salt on all your offerings.

Any grain offering made to God had to include salt.

Unusable Salt

Also, they would take the salt that was no longer usable and throw it on their footpaths.

You see, unlike today, the salt that they received weren’t always pure.

It came with impurities.

Now pure salt cannot lose it saltiness, but when it is mixed with impurities it can lose it saltiness.

We can deduce therefore that, for the Jews this metaphor regarding salt was understandable.

They understood the meaning and significance of it.

The Purpose

But to understand what Jesus is telling us here we have to dig a little deeper.

We need to look at the purpose of salt.

Salt has two primary purposes:

• It enhances

• It preserves

It Enhances

Salt has the ability to enhance the taste of food.

It has the ability to enhance flavor.

This is most probably this purpose that Jesus is emphasizing in this sermon.

It says in verse 13: “But if salt loses its taste”.

If it loses its ability to give flavor…

The fact is that food, for the most part, tastes bland if it has no salt.

You immediately become aware of the fact that a piece of steak does not have salt on the moment you take a bite of it.

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