Salt and Light
SALT AND LIGHT
Most of you have probably seen this and know what this is….this is a 5 Hour Energy Drink.
- During the day, especially when you are working, you get run down…tired…feeling kind of drained…you just drink one of these and it energizes you for up to 5 hours!
- It gets you going! It puts some life back in your step!
- And there are several different types of these drinks.
I think at times we all feel the need to be energized…we get tired…a little run down…not very motivated…and we need something to “pick us up”…to get us going again…
- Not only do I think that is true physically…but I think that is also true spiritually.
Let’s look again at the passage that was read…but before we do let me remind you of the background once again.
- Jesus has settled in Capernaum…and the people in this area had for many years been subjected by military and political corruption.
- Even their religious leaders were corrupt…it was a time when power and money meant more to their religious leaders than righteousness did.
- The poor were oppressed…the widows were neglected…
- Isaiah described it well when he said that the people were “sitting in darkness and in the land of the shadow of death.”
- Spiritually, these people were drained…exhausted…tired…they needed to be energized!
- And Jesus does that! He not only tries to energize these people…but He also tries to energize us!
Let me ask you this…as a congregation of God’s people what are we here for…what is our mission? Why do we exist?
- How good are we doing? Have we grown tired…weary?
- Are we reaching out to people…are we helping people…are we having any impact on our community…are we changing those around us…are we changing the world?
And what about individually? As a disciple of Christ are you doing what your are supposed to be doing? Have you grown tired spiritually?
- You see, these people were not the only ones who needed to be energized…Christians need it today as well.
- So, let’s look at what Jesus says starting in vs. 13.
Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”
- Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth…”
- Let’s talk about this for just a minute. What does that mean to you?
- Normally we think of salt as being seasoning and that is true…but for these people it mean much more than that.
You don’t have to read very far in commentaries or even on the internet to learn how important and vital salt was to these people.
For these people salt was currency…it was used to barter…it was used for wages.
- In fact, our word “salary” emanates all the way back to a word for salt.
- We may even say that a worker wasn’t “worth his salt.”
- Soldiers were paid in salt.
- Jewish men would carry a little bag of it…and they would barter with it.
Salt was used in all different kinds of ways.
- It was used for cooking and baking.
- They put salt on the table to put on the food.
- They would make a salt brine to clean olives…and they would put it on the different vegetables they would grow.
- It was used for purification…to disinfect…as an antiseptic.
- It was used in the temple.
- They would use salt from the Dead Sea…which was a hard, coarse salt…and when the steps of the temple would get slippery and damp they would put salt on them.
Salt was vital for life…in fact in the desert about the longest you could go without salt was 30 days.
- To the Jewish people salt was a symbol of God because salt was about preserving, and sustaining, and enabling you to live.
- And to the Jewish mind salt was a symbol of the creator.
It was used spiritually in the temple…most of the sacrifices were sprinkled with salt.
- The incense had salt in it.
It was used to seal a covenant between God and man…or between two men.
- Two men might come together to resolve their differences or a conflict and they would have a small table and a small empty bowl…and each would take a little salt from their salt bag and they would put it in the bowl…and they would gently shake the bowl and very quickly the salt would mix and become one and you couldn’t tell whose salt was what.
- And words would be exchanged and a covenant formed…and most Jewish men would rather die than break the covenant of salt.
Salt was a part of every facet of these people’s lives and when Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth” is He saying, “You are the people I am entrusting to influence every part of the world…in daily life…in spiritual matters…in health…in nutrition…in everything that matters.”
- “I want you to be something that people value.”
- “I want you to be something that people take into their very being.”
- “I want you to be a cleansing…purifying agent in society.”
- “I want you to preserve life.”
- “I want you to be someone that people value and trust.”
- “I want you to be my people, my disciples that change the world by the way you live and how you influence other people.”
You know, salt could be used to keep weeds from growing.
- It was there to keep the bad stuff out…and it was there to make the good stuff better.
- That is what Jesus wants from us.
And if you look at this verse Jesus says, “I don’t want you to lose your saltiness.”
- The only way for salt to be corrupted or polluted is to mix it with something it doesn’t belong with…to dilute it.
- You mix it with dirt…can’t put that on your food…can’t keep a pure covenant…can’t use that for purification.
Jesus says, “I don’t want you to lose your saltiness because if you lose that you have lost your influence.”
- And then, according to Jesus, what are you good for?
In fact, look at this passage found in Luke 14: 34-35. Jesus says,
34 “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35 “It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
- What is Jesus talking about when He refers to “salt on the manure pile?”
One of the applications of salt was that salt, especially for the Bedouin tribes that live in the Judean desert…there wasn’t any fire wood for fires or for cook stoves.
- What they would do is they would gather animal dung…mainly from camels and donkeys.
- And they would sprinkle it with salt which would help to dry it out…and when it was dried out they would burn it…and because of the salt it burn brighter, and longer, and hotter than it would without the salt.
- And that is why Jesus says here that if salt becomes tasteless…if it loses its saltiness…it isn’t any good for preventing weeds from growing or for the manure pile.
If we lose our power, we lose our influence, we lose our fire…if we become polluted and corrupted and diluted…then we are good for nothing but to be thrown out.
- So to energize us…to get us going…Jesus says to us, “You are the salt of the earth and I am counting on you to change the people around you…change the world you live in…by the way you live.”
Look at what else He says about us in vs. 14: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 “Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. 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.
There are several places in the scriptures where you see the word “tel” in front of a city or name.
- Ezra 2:59: Tel-Melah; Tel-Harsha.
- 2 Kings 19:12: Tel-Assar…Ezekiel 3:15…Tel-Abib.
- In the Hebrew that word “tel” means a “mound or a hill.”
- It wasn’t uncommon for the people to build a city or a town on a hill.
Jesus says here, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
- You can’t hide a city set on a hill.
- And you have seen that to be true….we have all been driving across the plains and someone will have built a house up on a hill…and you can see the light from that house for several miles.
- That is why they put lights on the top of towers…so people can see them from a long distance away.
- It is up there to be seen.
You see, that is what Jesus has called us to be…He has called you and He has called me, and He has called us to be the “salt of the earth”…a constant influence in the lives of others…
- …and He has called us to be the kind of follower that is visible to others at all times.
- We aren’t to be influenced by the world…and we are not to be “out of sight.”
And Jesus says, “Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house.
- I have done this for a long time…and I have started working on this…I suspect that a lot of us have done the same thing.
Jesus says here that “I am a light of the world”…as a Christian…as an example of the Christian faith…the world needs to see me…it needs to see my example…my influence.
- But do you know what I often do…and I am going to guess that a lot of you do the same thing.
- I may be invited to some event…or some event may be going on publicly…like the Goat Cook Off…or a Football or Basketball game…it may even be a funeral or a wedding…or some other social gathering…and instead of people getting to see Christ through me…instead of me going so people can see the way a Christian is to conduct themselves…I stay at home…I close myself up in the house and watch TV…in other words…I put my light under a bushel…
- And when I do that someone else’s light might shine instead of the one that God wants people to see.
Let me illustrate it this way: (Light on, others off…gives light to the whole house…slowly dim until out…whose light do you see now? See the flashlight.)
- If you or I are going to influence people…if we are going to make a difference in the world…if we are going to change things in our community for Christ…we have to let our light be seen.
- I look at things in our society and I can’t help but think that maybe the reason it is so dark spiritually is because we keep putting our light under a bushel.
Now look at verse 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.
- The reason we are salt and light is not so people will praise us…but so they will praise God.
- In the past we have helped people with food…and with gas…and occasionally with a motel room…and in the future we will help others again.
- When we do I hope those people don’t say, “Thank you Sunset Ridge. Or “Thank you” Virgil Webb or Eric Bierman.
- I hope those people say “Thank you God for the food…for the gas…for the shelter.”
- It’s not about us…it is all about Him…when they see our salt…and our light…and our good works…it will draw them to Him. (Politicians).
We all need energized both physically and spiritually.
- We need to “get fired up…get going.”
- People use this (5 hour Energy) for the physical…and the truth is…this is full of sugar.
Spiritually, God doesn’t want us to be full of sugar…He wants us to be salt…something people value…a good influence…a preservative…pure…something that keeps the bad stuff out…a representative of God…
- And he wants us to be a light…sitting on a hill…visible to all…not for our own praise and glory…but for His.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023