Welcome to the first part of the second course of Red Bricks.
Read Matthew 5:13-16
In the previous six sessions we laid the foundations of kingdom thinking by looking at what is known as the Beatitudes or the Sermon on the Mount. And now we continue in that study by laying the second course of bricks for our wall.
Staying with the same text from Matthew as the foundation course, we find Yeshua is talking in the first person, using you and you’re. That is to say that He is speaking to us as individuals, and in the present tense. Both verses 13 and 14 start with ‘You are the...’, so that we understand that Yeshua is not only declaring that we are these things, but that He also expects us to maintain that which we already are. Both examples tell us what we are and explain that if we don’t fulfil that, then we are not really fit for purpose.
We can imagine that Yeshua taught often from example, as well as parable and experience. He may well at this point have picked up a handful of salt as they sat on that hillside and showed it to His disciples and said for them to look at it. When we think of salt, we need to think about what purpose it would have served back then in the first century AD. These days we are warned against too much salt because of our reliance on processed foods, which are packed full of the stuff. Back then, salt was used to prevent meat rotting, and to savour bland food.
You could imagine that when Yeshua here talks of salt, He is referring to the gospel, the good news, which we have heard. For it is that Word of God which preserves us, which stops us from falling into the decay of sin. So, we share this salt, this good news with others, in order to preserve their lives too.
The word in Greek for salt is halas, which can also have the figurative meaning of prudence, which means for us to show wisdom or good judgement in difficult situations. That is exactly what Yeshua expects of us when we hear His good news. He doesn’t expect us to hear this good news and keep it to ourselves. He expects us to share it with others too.
By being the salt of the earth, Jesus is expecting us to not only help preserve those dying spiritual deaths, but also to add flavour and seasoning to a corrupt world. Salt, back in the first century, would have been spread liberally around. That is our role – to freely spread the salt we have been given in order to help preserve the decaying world all around us.
Remember that salt is quick acting, powerful in nature, and penetrating. It doesn’t take much salt to change a dish of food. It also is used to cleanse wounds and to purify. In Old Testament times, under the sacrificial offering system, all offerings were treated first with salt.
If we have no seasoning in ourselves; no good news; no prudence; how can we possibly expect to help others? As people of the Kingdom, we need our lives to be savoured and preserved with salt, in order that we can share that with those around us.
Besides being the salt of the earth, Yeshua also tells us that we are the light of the world. In a dark sky, our eyes are drawn always to light. In this dark world, Jesus tells us, that we are the light that people should be drawn to. He uses the example of a city on a hill which cannot be hidden from sight. That is how He expects us to be – visible to everyone.
He says that we shouldn’t hide this light. It is His light. Right from the beginning He was the light in men (see John 1). Like the salt of the gospel that needs sharing with others, our light is there for all to see. We shouldn’t try to hide it away, but place it on a stand for all to see. As we allow more of Jesus into our lives, more light shines out from us in this dark world.
If people don’t notice the light that is in you, then what use is it to them at all?
Yeshua tells us that the purpose of us allowing our light to shine before other people, is that they may see the good we are doing, the salt we are sharing, and praise God as a result. That is our purpose.
Throughout the Bible we see example of light being used to describe and show the nature of God, Himself. When we purpose to follow Yeshua, His light starts to fill our lives and we need, simply, to act as a lamp by which others can see that light.
We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. It is a great purpose that Yeshua expects us all to fulfil.