MT 5:13-16 Jesus said to his disciples:”You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”
Ready? OK – here goes!
In Jesus’ first parable he compares us to salt. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?” This means that although salt has many uses, its primary use is as a seasoning to enhance the flavor of other foods. Jesus is telling us here that we are the seasoning that enhances the rest of the world. People put salt on watermelon and tomatoes, however they very seldom ever say “That watermelon makes that salt taste great.” The job of salt is to make you realize how great the salt is, but how great the salted food is.
Some other uses of salt:
1: Antiseptic to cleanse wounds. We can be the antiseptic for the world and cleanse the wounds of those who are hurting, broken or damaged. The only problem with using salt as an antiseptic is that it can be painful. Hence the phrase “pouring salt in an open wound”. Salt has a bite to it, but sometimes that is what we need to help us heal from the infection of sin.
2: Preservative to keep foods fresh. As Christians, we can be the preservative of our faith. By preserving our faith, we keep it attractive so that others are not put off by it and are drawn to it.
3: Fertilizer to condition soil and help crops grow healthy and strong. Jesus would want us to cultivate or faith as if it were a crop that farmers grow for sustaining life. One of the myths that surround fertilizers is that the salts they contain are “harsh” on the biology of the soil. The reality is that salt is essential to all of life. Either too much or too little can harm.
4: Catalyst: cat·a·lyst (Websters definition)
a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.
- a person or thing that precipitates an event.
We should be the catalysts that Jesus wanted us to be. We should precipitate events that direct souls to our Lord.
Can you live without salt? This is the answer from the Johns Hopkins website:
No, life cannot exist without salt. It’s the sodium in salt that causes most of the problems. The human body can’t live without some sodium. It’s needed to transmit nerve impulses, contract and relax muscle fibers (including those in the heart and blood vessels), and maintain a proper fluid balance.
In verse 14-16 Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket.” This one is very simple – we are to spread the light of His love to the rest of the world. Sin is dark and keeps the world smothered in darkness. Jesus commands us to cover up that dark sin with the light of his love and forgiveness. The world is lost and without direction without the light of Jesus’s love. Imagine this – you are blindfolded and taken to a place you have never been before. When the blindfold is removed, you find yourself in a totally dark room, but you don’t know what else is in the room. There could be furniture, but you don’t know for sure. There could be stairs, but you don’t know for sure. There could be windows, but you don’t know for sure because you can’t see anything. You are going to have a hard time moving around safely and confidently because you can’t see where you are headed, or what is in front of you. You are given instructions to find your way out of the dark room. This would be a daunting task since you have no idea where the door is, where anything is. Imagine the chaos as you bump into furniture and chairs, as you trip over small objects. As you are feeling your way around the dark room, you find what feels like a flashlight and switch it on. The dark room is the world full of sin, and the we as Christians are the flashlight. Once the flashlight is switched on we have a path to follow and we know where all the obstacles are.
“A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” In Jesus’ day there was no air conditioning. The only air conditioning they had was the breeze. Anybody who has ever lived in West Virginia knows that when you live in a valley there is no breeze, but when you put your single wide on the top of the hill you always have a nice breeze blowing. They built their cities on top of the hills for this reason, and because cities are on hills are easier to defend than ones built in valleys. Jesus’ point, however, is not a city’s defense, but its visibility because of its elevated position. Most cities in Jesus’ day were constructed largely of white limestone and placed on a hilltop to reflect the bright sun rays, allowing visibility from miles away. At night, the white marble mirrored both the moonlight and burning lamps, acting as a beacon for directing travelers toward the city. Similarly, as disciples our light ought to make it easier for people to find their way to God. We are a city set on a hill that should be elevated and easily visible so that all the world can see the Jesus in us.
“Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” This needs little explanation but I will try to elaborate as much as I can here. You wouldn’t turn on a lamp in a dark room and then cover it with a basket and block out the light. That would be a waste of time, energy, and electricity. In Jesus’ day lamp oil was very expensive and was not to be wasted, much like electricity today. So, what Jesus meant was that we should be beacons of His love in all that we do. Don’t hide the fact that we are Christians, proclaim it in everything we do and everywhere we go. In our daily lives at work, in school, and in our social situations we should be showing our God off to everyone we meet.
Lord: in your mercy please show us how to be better Christians, brighter lights of your love, and cities with open and welcoming gates. Show us how to remove the basket from our lights so that our beams may shine farther and brighter. In Jesus name, Amen.