28 May 2007
Salt of the Earth
Perhaps the words heard more often around dinner tables than any others are, "Please pass the salt." Salt is a necessary ingredient in our foods, and our health depends upon a proper intake of salt. It is added to our food not only to make the food more palatable, but also to sustain the delicate balance in the body so necessary to health.
Salt has been valued from time immemorial. Roman soldiers were paid in salt and, if one were derelict in his duties, he was said to be “not worth his salt.”
• Salt was used throughout ancient societies as a sign of friendship, a concept that continues to the present day. In the Arab world, if one man partakes of the salt of another man, that is, eats a meal with him, he is under his protection and care. If a man’s worst enemy came into his tent and ate of his salt, he would be obliged to protect and to provide for him as though he were his dearest friend.
• A salt covenant is referred to in 2 Chronicles 13:5, where God speaks of a covenant of salt made with David.
• God prescribed salt as a necessary part of the sacrifices. “Every oblation of thy meat-offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat-offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt” (Lev 2:13).
Jesus’ Kingdom Mission
The central theme of Jesus message is the coming of the kingdom of God... It may be rightly said that the whole of the preaching of Jesus Christ and his apostles is concerned with the kingdom of God.
What had arrived? Power of God in Christ by the Spirit to restore humanity to again live under the rule of God.
Reign of God announced
Matthew 3:1-2 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Matt4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Announcement of God’s power to restore God’s rule
Demand for decision: Repent and believe! Follow me! (Mark 1:14-18)
Demonstrated reign of God with deeds
Matthew 4:23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
Explained kingdom of God with teaching
See especially Matthew 5-7
receive the gift of the kingdom; enter the realm of the kingdom
Receive blessing of kingdom.
Receive demands of kingdom.
Jesus suffered for reign of God
Jesus formed a community to live under rule of God
Jesus promised he would build His church.
SALT IS MEANT TO BE USED
Now, Jesus says that anyone who has these characteristics is happy (alt. “blessed”). And he goes on to say that such people are the salt of the earth. Salt is drawn from the earth and has a usefulness to people that is pretty nearly essential to civilization.
Jesus makes it clear: The Christian is not someone who lives in isolation. He is in the world, though he is not of it; and he bears a relationship to that world. In the Scriptures you always find these two things going together. The Christian is told that he must be otherworldly in his mind and outlook; but that never means that he retires out of the world.
You notice that in the second chapter of his first Epistle, Peter does exactly the same thing. He says, "We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light."
Php 2:12-15 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,
In the words of Paul, we will manifest “the sweet aroma of the knowledge of [Christ] in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life” (2 Cor. 2:14–16).
SALT Must Be SALT
What does it mean to live as salt today? As university students? As citizens? As parents? As grandparents? As husbands, wives, children? As workers in education, business, government, service? What constitutes the “saltiness” of a Follower of Christ? Well, Jesus had just been pointing out some of these characteristics in the run-up to this verse, where he described eight fundamental traits of the “blessed.”
1. A Follower of Christ is “poor in spirit.”
2. A Follower of Christ is ready to mourn.
3. A Follower of Christ is meek.
4. A Follower of Christ is hungry and thirsty for righteousness.
5. A Follower of Christ is merciful.
6. A Follower of Christ is pure in heart.
7. A Follower of Christ is a peacemaker.
8. A Follower of Christ shall be persecuted.