Summary: A message encouraging us to become salty Christians — rubbed with the essence of Jesus who make others thirst for God.
SERMON TEXT: Matthew 5:13
If any of you have high-blood pressure, you know how important it is to monitor your daily salt intake. Now, I don’t have high blood pressure, but being on my diet, I’m trying to closely monitor my salt intake each day. And I have to tell ya, keeping my salt intake at the FDA’s daily recommended levels is not an easy thing to do. It seems like everything we put in our mouths — for the exception of water — contains salt. And I’m finding process foods are just loaded with this little mineral.
Now, here’s something interesting. A Fox News article published on January 31st titled: “New Dietary Guidelines Drastically Cut Salt Intake” started by stating: “For the first time, the U.S. government is advising that more than half of the American population needs to drastically cut their daily salt intake.” A little further down, the article reads:
The Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments issue the guidelines every five years, and recommends that [those who are not at risk] stick to the “teaspoon a day” guideline of 2,300 milligrams, which is about one-third less than the average person usually consumes.”
It’s really interesting isn’t it how valuable salt truly is to maintain our health. Too much salt can kills us. Ironically though, the lack there of can also kills us — in more ways than one.
Now, here’s some fun little facts: 40 million tons are required each year to fill our needs. Homer called it divine. Plato called it a "substance dear to the gods." It’s possible Leonard da Vinci wanted to send a subtle message about purity-lost when he painted "The last Supper." In that painting an overturned salt-seller is conspicuously placed before Judas.
In ancient Greece a far-flung trade involving the exchange of salt for slaves gave rise to the expression, "...not worth his salt." Special salt rations were given to Roman soldiers and known as "Solarium Argentums" the forerunner of the English word "salary." And lastly, thousands of Napoleon’s troops died during his retreat from Moscow because their wounds would not heal—their bodies lacked salt.
Now, if you haven’t guessed, this morning we’re going to divert away from “The Story” and revisit our Gospel message for this morning and see what Jesus says about the church being the salt of this earth, and what that means for our lives. With that, please open your bibles again to the Gospel according to Matthew, Chapter Five, verse 13. READ MATT 5:13.
BACKGROUND INTO THIS PASSAGE
As we dig into this passage, we should be mindful where Matthew recorded Jesus words —right near the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Prior to Jesus telling the people they were the salt of the earth, he began his sermon by bestowing blessings in what we today call the Beatitudes.
Now simply put, the beatitudes are pronouncements that bestow blessing upon persons who are characterized by what they are — and do— for and with God. The blessings provide encouragement in times of difficulty, and let the hearers know “these are qualities Jesus seeks in his disciples.”
Today, we’re not going to focus on the beatitudes -- for those are nine sermons unto themselves. However, it’s a good for us to hear a few.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness’ for they shall be satisfied
Blessed are the merciful.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Now, after Jesus spoke of the nine qualities of Godly discipleship, he continued by telling the people: “You are the salt of this of this earth.”
For us to understand what this means, we really need to get into the mind of the Hebrews and the Old Testament understanding of salt — and what that meant for them.
In the ancient world, salt had huge religious significance; it was sprinkled on or mixed into the sacrifices. Leviticus 2:13 says, “Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings.”
Newborn children were rubbed with it; and lasting covenants were made by eating bread and salt, or salt alone. 2 Chronicles 13:5 states, “the Lord, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt.”