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With joy-filled faith we wait to see Jesus.
1 Peter 1:3-9
Individual fasting should be a secret between you and God.
Matthew 6:16-18
How we pray reveals what we believe about God.
Matthew 6:5-15
You are a new person in Christ.
Colossians 3:1-4
Will we choose the fate of the righteous or the wicked?
Psalms 1
Don’t give in order to impress others.
Matthew 6:1-4
David puts his trust in God when he is in danger and we should also.
Psalms 56:1-4
Love your enemies
Matthew 5:43-47
God has everything and knows everything.
Romans 11:33-36
Members of God’s kingdom should hold on loosely to their honor, possessions, etc.
Matthew 5:38-42
God treasures Israel not because of their worth, but because he chose them.
Deuteronomy 7:1-11
Divorce causes adultery.
Luke 16:18
Marriage is a one-flesh union joined by God; thus, man shouldn’t break this union.
Mark 10:2-9
Marriage is a one-flesh union; breaking this union causes adultery.
Matthew 19:3-9
God provided the perfect solution to man’s lonliness.
Genesis 2:18-25
Marriage is a companionship and a covenant that should not be broken by unfaithfulness.
Faithfulness in Marriage
Beware against committing sins in your heart.
Matthew 5:27-30
Followers of Jesus should keep their word.
Matthew 5:33-37
Divorce does not dissolve the marriage bond (unless it is done on the grounds of sexual immorality).
Matthew 5:31-32
God desires peace between humans
Matthew 5:21-26
For what reason(s) do you worship God?
Psalms 100
Because God’s kingdom requires righteousness, Jesus fulfills the law.
Matthew 5:17-20
Citizens of God’s kingdom go through hard times but are blessed because they will receive the blessings of the kingdom.
Matthew 5:3-12
Praise Jesus for his healing!
Matthew 4:23-25
Are we exercising our gifts in love?
1 Corinthians 13
God will take away everything that is sad.
Revelation 21:1-8
Our future resurrection gives us the ability to persevere in our faith.
1 Corinthians 15:50-58
How to discern whether someone is from God.
1 John 4:1-6
Pursue wisdom with everything you have.
Proverbs 4:20-27
Trials are doing something good in you.
James 1:2-4
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Salt and Light
Matthew 5:13-16
We are blessed to be a blessing.
Published November 11th, 2020; Updated July 12th, 2021
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Main point summary
Key for highlighting
Notes about cross references
Markup and cross refs
Observations and questions
Theological reflection
Main point summary
You, citizen’s of God’s kingdom, are like salt and light, agents for redeeming the world. Therefore, cause others to glorify God by working to make the world better and preserve it and living your life out in the open.
Matthew 5:13-16
“You are the salt of the earth,
You, humble citizens of God’s kingdom, are like salt; that is the means that God is using to preserve the world,
k but if salt has lost its taste,
But understand this about salt: if so called “salt” becomes diluted and loses its taste,
how shall its saltiness be restored?
then its salt cannot be put back into it.
It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
As a result , it is no longer useful except to be thrown in the trash.
l “You are the light of the world.
To give another analogy, you all are like the light the illuminates a world in darkness.
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Speaking of lights, consider the city on a hill. You couldn’t hide its light if you tried.
m Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket,
To give another example, when you put a fire to a lamp, you don’t then put it under a basket.
but on a stand,
Rather , you put it up high
and it gives light to all in the house.
and it then it enlightens everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
Just as it would be inconceivable to hide the light of a city or of a lamp, it is inconceivable for you to hide your light. Therefore , live in such a way that your light is evident to others
so n that 1 they may see your good works
so that others may see your good deeds, which are fruit of God’s work in you,
and o give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
and, as a result , acknowledge the greatness of your Heavenly Father.
If salt loses its taste, its saltiness can’t be restored.
If salt loses its taste, it is then useless.
Even though you are salt of the earth, it is possible for salt to become useless. (Implication: don’t let your salt lose its taste.)
Because your purpose is to be light to the world, cause others to acknowledge God’s greatness by living fruitful lives out in the open.
Just as it is inconceivable that a city or a lamp be hidden, it is inconceivable for you to hide your light. It has to shine!
The people who are salt of the earth are the people who are blessed in the beatitudes (verses 3-12).
See Matthew 4:16
THEREFORE, cause others to acknowledge God’s greatness due to the good you do for others by living your life out in the open.
I chose progression here because I Jesus develops the light analogy further than he develops the salt analogy by giving the command “let your light shine”.
Light is meant to be displayed. (Hidden light doesn’t make sense.)
Matthew 5:13-16
You are salt, but saltiness isn’t automatic
Your identity
“You are the salt
of the earth,
A warning
but ... how shall its saltiness be restored?
if salt has lost its taste,
It is no longer good
for anything
except to be thrown out
and trampled
under people’s feet.
You are light, so act like it
Your identity
“You are the light
of the world.
Hidden light doesn’t make sense
on a hill
A city set ... cannot be hidden.
Comparison #1
Nor do people light a lamp
and put it
under a basket,
but [people put a lamp] on a stand,
Comparison #2
and it gives light
to all
in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine
before others,
so that they may see your good works
and give glory
to your Father
who is in heaven.
Key for highlighting
Colors represent similarity within the passage Underline represents comparison or contrast within the passage Dashed represents similarity with other passages Zigzag represents contrast with other passages Outline represents something notable or something that stands out
Notes about cross references
Philemon 6 - letting our light shine before others is similar to sharing our faith 2 Corinthians 9:13 - our good works also causes other believers to give glory to God Matthew 9:8 - glorifying God in this context means that they recognized the power of God, which led them to be afraid.
Markup and cross refs
Matthew 5:13-16
Salt and Light 13 “You are the salt of the earth , k but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 l “You are the light of the world . A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 m Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket , but on a stand , and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so n that 1 they may see your good works and o give glory to your Father who is in heaven .
Mark 9:50
50 v Salt is good, w but if the salt has lost its saltiness , how will you make it salty again? x Have salt in yourselves, and y be at peace with one another .”
Luke 14:34
Salt Without Taste Is Worthless 34 w “ Salt is good, x but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored ?
Ephesians 5:8
8 for b at one time you were c darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. d Walk as children of light
Philippians 2:15
15 that you may be blameless and innocent, l children of God m without blemish n in the midst of o a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine p as lights in the world,
John 8:12
I Am the Light of the World 12 l Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, m “I am the light of the world. Whoever n follows me will not o walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Mark 4:21
A Lamp Under a Basket 21 w And he said to them, x “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket , or under a bed, and not on a stand ?
Luke 8:16
A Lamp Under a Jar 16 m n “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand , so that those who enter may see the light .
Luke 11:33
The Light in You 33 d “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket , but on a stand , so that those who enter may see the light .
Philemon 6
6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full j knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. 1
1 Peter 2:12
12 k Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, l they may see your good deeds and glorify God on m the day of visitation.
John 15:8
8 g By this my Father is glorified , that you h bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
2 Corinthians 9:13
13 By their approval of this service , f they 1 will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your g confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others ,
Philippians 1:11
11 filled u with the fruit of righteousness that comes v through Jesus Christ, w to the glory and praise of God .
Matthew 9:8
8 When the crowds saw it, c they were afraid, and c they glorified God , who had d given such authority to men .
Observations and questions
Observations Jesus is a great teacher. He uses metaphor to help us understand. Jesus uses the impactful image of being trampled under people’s feet. Things that are trampled under people’s feet are worthless. It is a great responsibility and privilege to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This privilege is given to the lowly members of society (Matthew 5:3-12). Letting our light shine is hard when we are persecuted for doing so. Our good works glorify God. When believers let their lights shine, people see their good works and give credit to God. Questions What does it mean that we are the salt of the earth? What does it mean for us to lose our taste ? Why can’t our saltiness be restored? How are we light to the world? What things should we do to let our light shine before others? What things make our light fail to shine before others? Why does Jesus say salt “of the earth” and not “salt of the world”?
Theological reflection
Abram was blessed so that he would be a blessing
Salt and Light If you are here today and you are a Christian, why did Jesus Christ die for you? What purpose did he have for you? Was it just so you could escape hell? Or did God have a bigger purpose for you? To answer this question let’s open our bibles to Matthew 5:13-16. And what we are going to see is that God has a very significant purpose for the people that he has saved and brought into his kingdom. In fact, we are going to see that God’s saved people are central to God’s plan to redeem and save the world. Context and structure of the passage Before we dig into the details of our passage, I want to explain a bit about its context, i.e., how this passage fits into the rest of the gospel of Matthew, as well as its structure, or how the passage is organized. Understanding these two things will help us in rightly hearing what Jesus is saying to us in this passage. Regarding context, our passage is situated near the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, after the Beatitudes in verses 3-12. And in the beatitudes Jesus talks about the hardships that people in God’s kingdom go through in this life as well as the rewards they will have in his kingdom after Jesus comes back. And the last verse of the beatitudes, verse 12, says “…rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” And then comes our passage, which is a continuation of what Jesus is saying in the beatitudes about suffering. So, as we read our passage about salt and light, we should keep in mind the context of suffering for God’s kingdom. Regarding structure, this passage has two parallel ideas: salt in verse 13, and light in verses 14-16. These are two metaphors that point to the same idea; we will explore what this idea is later in this sermon. So, my three points in this message are going to follow the organization of the passage: 1) the identity we have as Christians, 2) the warning to not quench this identity, and 3) how to fulfill this identity. Point #1: The identity we have The first thing we need to see is the words “you are” in verse 13 and in verse 14. It is important to notice that Jesus does not say “ be salt” or “ be light”. Instead, he says that we are salt and light. We are already are the salt of the world and light of the world. This doesn’t mean that we don’t have to anything. Later in this passage Jesus is going to give us a command, but first we need to understand that we are salt and light. But what does Jesus mean when he says we are salt and light? Two different metaphors, but the same meaning. Looking at verse 13, what does Jesus mean that we are salt? It is passages like this in which we benefit from the practice of meditation. When we read a metaphor or a parable we are meant to stop and mull over what it means. Asking questions like “How am I related to salt?” “What purpose does salt have?” In verse 14 Jesus talks about salt losing its taste. So, it seems that in this metaphor we are adding flavor or taste to something. What does it mean to add taste to the world? I take it to mean that our presence in the world makes the world a better place. So, is your city a better place because you live in it? Is your school? Your neighborhood? If we are living like the Beatitudes call us to – humility, peacemaking, being willing to suffer for Jesus’s sake - the world around us will be better. Also, salt was also commonly used as a preservative in Jesus’s day. A preservative prevents food from decaying. So, we are preventing the world from decaying. Our presence in the world should keep it from decaying morally, spiritually, etc. And if you think about it, there is a lot of moral and spiritual decay in the world. Abortion, greed, racism, pornography, I could go on and on. It is clear that the world is in great need of some preservative. So, what are you and doing to preserve the world? Are we speaking out against injustice? Are we being willing to call out sin in a loving way? Are we willing to help people who are caught in addition or in the prison system? And what about the metaphor of light? In the Bible one function of light is to guide people who were in darkness. And another function is to expose works of darkness or sin. So, if we put together the two purposes of salt and the two purposes of light, we can see the larger reality that Jesus is getting at with these two metaphors. Here is my summary of what he is saying: disciples of Jesus are people that improve and redeem the world . That is our identity. Point #2: the warning not to quench this identity So, we see that our identity is as people who improve and redeem the world. But that doesn’t mean that we will automatically bless the world without doing anything. In fact, in verses 13 through 15 Jesus warns us that even though we are salt and light, it is possible that we may not do the world any good. In verse Jesus says “but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet” What he is referring to is the fact that in those days salt often wasn’t pure and could get diluted when other things were added to it. It lost its saltiness. Salt is supposed to be distinct, to have a distinct taste. It is supposed to add something to a food. But if salt loses its saltiness, it is worthless. And Jesus is saying that if we lose our distinctness as Christians, if we become just like the world and provide no benefit to the world, just like unsalty salt provides no benefit to food. Jesus says something similar about light in verse 15. The main point of verse 15 is that light is meant to be displayed. Hidden light doesn’t make sense. And yet we hide our light when we are afraid to let people know that we follow Jesus. We hide our light when we are afraid to speak out against racial injustice or abortion or many other areas of darkness in this world because people might get angry at us. Or when we are afraid to talk about Jesus because someone might get offended. But Jesus says that doing this is like turning on a huge light in your house and then hiding it under a blanket – it doesn’t make sense. But how does this happen? How do we end up providing no benefit to the world even though we are the salt of the world? Again, let’s look back at the beatitudes. The people who are part of the kingdom go through a hard time in this life; they go through persecution. If we live out our Christian life and try to preserve the world and try to shine light on the darkness in the world, some people will oppose us. So, sometimes we get quiet about their faith in order to avoid this persecution. To blend in with the world a bit more and no longer provide anything distinct. But when we do that, we are no longer salt and light to the world. That is what Jesus warns us about. Point #3: what to do with our identity This brings us to our last point: How do we make sure that we don’t become unsalty salt and hidden light? Jesus tells us in verse 16: instead of hiding our light we should let it shine before others. Meaning that we should do good works in the open. Don’t be afraid of who might see. And although he doesn’t saying anything about salt in this part of the passage, the implication is that we should work to be salt. We should make sure to not become diluted by the world, but instead make the world better and preserve it from moral decay. And finally, at the end of verse 16, Jesus tells us why we should work to salt and light to the world. It isn’t so that others will think that we are great. Rather, it is so that people see that God is great. The reason we should do good works is so that people will see these good works and wonder “how can these people do good to others even when they receive persecution for it?” And some in the watching world will actually glorify God because of our good works. Conclusion In closing, we see in this passage that God has a great purpose for the people of his kingdom. He plans to use us to preserve the world and make the world better. And he is going to glorify himself through us! How gracious is he to use a weak and sinful people to bring him glory. Make God help us be salt and light in our neighborhoods and in our schools and in our cities and throughout the world. Amen.
Brent Karding
Your phrase is also excellent, supporting your arc (or perhaps the arc supports your phrase!). I like how your phrase shows the emphasis of our identity as salt and light.
Brent Karding
Excellent arcing. Your relationship choices are accurate throughout. I agree that 14b-16c is an Inference from 14a when you take the emphasis of 14b-16c in 16a-c.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.