Table of contents
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
The Foundation of the Kingdom of God is an unshakable joy that grows from the bottom up. 👉
Overall Commentary: 🌎
Jesus has just finished giving an amazing opening to what will be the most studied, the most followed, and the most hated manifesto in world history. Even if you do not believe Jesus is God, (...if that is so thank you for reading) you cannot deny the impact of His teaching. There would have been several different types of people in the audience from Jews, to Roman guards, to the average everyday Jo. Jesus says all are welcome into the Kingdom of God, but you have to do it His way. In the first 12 verses, Jesus lays out what it looks like to walk in freedom in the Kingdom of God. Then, over the next three chapters, He tells us how. The first section is about how a Kingdom man or woman walks through the world.
Jesus does not tell us to run away from the world or look down upon the world. He tells us to make a difference. Notice, He doesn't even say our first response is to preach to the world. Our first response is to be salt and add positive value by living our lives in front of those far from God. Then, we are to also be a light of hope and call all to come to Christ. We are no better than anyone else. We are better than we would be without Him.
Verses 13 🧂
Cross-references: Colossians 4:6, Luke 14:34-35, Mark 49:50
Salt of the Earth- Salt was a precious commodity of the time. There are records of some roman soldiers being paid with salt because of its value. Jesus is saying His followers had great value and were to add value to those around us. Salt was primarily used to preserve food by slowing down decay. If you apply salt, you can slow the decay of meat and make it last a long time. Salt was also used to enhance the flavor of food. It brings out all the flavors that are sometimes overlooked and or muted. Salt also had the obvious effect of making people thirsty. Jesus says we have the honor of going into the world around us to be a difference-maker. We can slow the decay of culture, show others what true life is, and make people thirsty for more of God.
SALT CONTROVERSY!- Can salt lose its properties? This has been used as a passage to disprove the Bible because Jesus makes a possible error. Pure salt doesn't lose its saltiness. Pure salt merely dissolves until nothing is left. Did Jesus make a mistake? No.
- First of all, Jesus is not giving a physics lesson. He is using salt as an example.
- Secondly, the natural salt they would have used in this region came from the Dead Sea. This salt was naturally combined with other elements when it was pulled from the ocean floor. When the salt would be applied to bakeries or other areas, the salt would dissolve and the sediments would remain. When this happened, it would appear as if the salt had lost its effectiveness. The salt had dissolved and only the junk was left. This is a powerful lesson for us. If we are not careful, we can use up the "saltiness" in our lives and all that will be left is something that looks holy but isn't.
Useless- Jesus says that when all is left is the "junk" salt, we become useless in the Kingdom of God. These are those who are salt in name only. If you apply their lives to the environment around them, nothing changes. He says we become useless in the Kingdom of God. Ouch.
Now What? What do we do if we have lost our saltiness? We go back to the Lord. This is why reading your Bible and daily prayer is so important. We charge up our saltiness every morning.
Verses 14-15 💡
Cross-references: Philippians 2:15, John 8:12, Ephesians 5:8-14, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, Proverbs 4:18, John 12:36
Light of the world- Jesus says in John that He is the Light of the World. This does not mean we are on the same level as Jesus. It means we share in the ministry of Jesus and continue it even to this day. When we see the life of Jesus, He went around doing good everywhere He could. As Christians, we share our hope far and wide. We should be known as carriers of hope at all times.
City on a hill- The Jewish audience would have immediately thought of Jerusalem when they heard this. They may have also thought of the Psalm that talks about ascending to the hill of the Lord. The Psalm talks about having clean hands and a clean heart. This would imply that we live clean so we can be a light to those around us. This also had strategic implications because those living in the countryside could know where their King was and could be a symbol of authority.
Under a bowl- Depending on your translation, this either reads bowl or basket. The result is the same. The lamp Jesus would have been talking about would only put out modest light. Therefore, it would need to be placed on a stand for the light to spread into the whole room. Placing it under a basket would have the opposite effect and likely extinguish the light.
Cross-references: 1 Peter 2:12, John 15:8, Titus 2:7, 1 John 1:5-7, Philippians 2:15-16
Heavenly Father. How do you know if you are doing it right? Sometimes well-meaning Christians think being salt and light means we go shouting into the world. Other well-meaning Christians think we go quietly into the world. Which way is right? Jesus lets us know. You can tell if you are doing it right when you see who gets the glory.
As a Christian, why would you want to try to fit in with the world when you were born again to stand out?
Jesus answers, possibly, one of the most pressing questions of His day and ours, "What do we do when the world has gone crazy." Have you ever felt that way? You have given your life to Christ and you have started growing toward freedom. How do I relate to a world that seems to have gone crazy? Do I declare war? Do I hide in the sand? Do I just love? Do I call down fire? The answer is to become salt and light in the world. We enter into the world around us to make a difference. Jesus said they would know we are His disciples by how we love.
We love the salty way. That means we call out the decay, we show the way of Christ, and we live in such a way that others want to know Jesus.
We love the light-filled way. We cannot love with our light without declaring war on darkness. That means we call it out and expose its destructive designs. We point to the hope that is found in Jesus.
In the end, there is one thing better than Heaven and worse the Hell... taking someone with you. Live in such a way that those around you become thirsty to know God and then point them to the light of Jesus.
Questions/Journal Prompts for reflection
- What does unshakable joy mean? Why does it take so long to grow?
- What does it mean for a Christian to be a change agent in culture?
- Have you ever had the chance to share your hope with others?
- What next step do you need to take?