Matthew 5:13-14, “13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;”
In Matthew 5 Jesus is standing in front of a crowd of people (rich-poor, young-old, religious-indifferent, all types), standing on a mountain side, and as people gathered around Jesus He begins to speak to them about who He is, what He is doing, and what it means to live out our meaning and purpose in life in Him.
Matthew 5 starts off and Jesus is teaching phrases like, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek,” and at first glance we’re like, “That’s cool, but what does that mean”, and what we find out is that Jesus is teaching us what it looks like to live out our meaning and purpose in life in Him on earth.
Phrases like, “Poor in spirit means we are to be filled with humility because we are reconciled to Him, we feel small, but safe. Those who mourn because what we see today isn’t right and it should bother us, and blessed are the meek, because we willingly set aside our interests for others” and Jesus is teaching us what it looks like to live out our meaning and purpose in life in Him on earth.
Instead, Jesus shows up in Matthew 5, 6, and 7 and says, “Look over here, this is what it looks like to live out our meaning and purpose in life in Him on earth. And, then, in what must have been incredibly powerful, in verses 13-14 Jesus looks these men and women in the eye, and says, “In Jesus, you are salt of the earth.”
Can you imagine how Jesus’ words must have pierced their soul? The same voice that spoke creation into existence is now speaking into their soul and says, “In Jesus, you are the light of the world.”
These types of words would have only been used to describe the religious leaders of the day, “A guide to the blind, a light to those who are in the dark,” and Jesus just looks at these men and women, and says, “Nah.”
It isn’t because of titles. It isn’t because of status. It isn’t because of physical appearances. It isn’t because of ethnicity. It isn’t even because of morality, but instead when you are reconciled to the Father by grace through faith in Jesus you are, “Salt of the earth and light of the world.”
The word salt is used to put off decay. They didn’t have refrigerators back then, so the only way to keep meat from rotting immediately was to cover it in salt, so that salt was preservative to put off decay.
And, back then they didn’t have light at the tip of their fingers like Iron Man. They would have spent the majority of their evening walking around in literal darkness, and Jesus just says, “When you are in Him there is a light in you that conquers all darkness.” It’s like having superpowers.
Matthew 5:15, “15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.”
In verse 15 Jesus uses the phrase, “Nor does anyone light a lamp” and it is important to clarify that we ourselves are not the light. Maybe that’s obvious, but I just want to be clear.
We could hear the language of verses 13 and 14 and think to ourselves, “I don’t know if I can be salty enough, or I don’t know if I can shine bright enough.” Sometimes my grandparents would interact with people who were really kind to them and they would say, “That fella is salt of the earth.” Or sometimes politicians will refer to America as the “light to the world.” No, Jesus is the light.
Matthew 5:16, “16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
In verse 15 our lives are lit through faith in Jesus, and in verse 16 Jesus moves us toward practical application and says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works.”
When you see the phrase “good works” it can sound like our relationship with the God of Scripture is determined by our “behavior” but we need to remember that our relationship with the Father is not according to our deeds (Titus 3), but to His mercy, and the result of His work in our life is “good works.”
I heard it said this way, “It is as though our good works do not become good works until we see that we do not have any good works. It is why Jesus starts with becoming salt and light, and it results in good works.
Now, it is possible that we see the words “good works” and we think of enormous “good works” like moving across the world, selling all our possessions, eradicating racism from the face of the earth, or solving the immigration challenges of the United States, and those are great pursuits, but did you know there are “good works” in you on display by just showing up to the office on Monday?
Remember, you are salt of the earth. The Holy Spirit has been poured out richly, you have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, so that even your failures are powerful.
- Imagine the type of hope you bring into the work place just because you are in Christ?
- Imagine simply remembering someone’s name, someone’s birthday?
- Imagine inviting someone out to lunch?
- Imagine marriages preserved when you encourage them not to throw their spouse under the bus.
- Imagine the power you hold in your words when you simply ask someone about their weekend?
- Imagine the hope in your fingers when you send your child’s teacher an email of encouragement?
Therefore, we need to ask ourselves, “Have our lamps been lit in Jesus?” Is so, “What are ways you want to be salt and light?” It doesn’t mean we try to be more salty and shine more bright, but instead it is being overwhelmed that Jesus pursues you, cleanses you, forgives you, reconciles you to the Father, so that the Holy Spirit can reside in you and as a result, you become salt and light.