“You are the salt of the earth….You are the light of the world” Matthew 5:13a, 14a

“You are the salt of the earth….You are the light of the world” Matthew 5:13a, 14a

     Jesus has just concluded His introductory statements concerning the ethical character of His kingdom. He has pronounced 8 blessings or states of happiness for His followers. After speaking about the qualities of a person, He now moves to using metaphors (common teaching method). Salt and light are, in essence, the composite of the 8 Beattitudes. 


In time Jesus’ time, salt was highly valued. Salt was one way of paying wages (Roman) and O.T. sacrifices were to be seasoned with salt in covenant (Lev. 2:13, Numbers 18:19, 2 Chron. 13:5). A person who has once joined in a “salt covenant” with God and then breaks it is only fit to be cast out (v. 13).

What does this mean hereThere are two generally used interpretations of this text:

1. SEASONING The world is evil and our job is to bring seasoning (a better flavor) to it–the bad to good                               

2. PRESERVATIVE The salt is to preserve things in the world (keep it from going bad)-the good from going bad.

These are opposite ideas. It cannot means two opposite ideas. So what does it mean? You are salt…You are light… Note it does not say “You should be the salt” or “the light”.

     1.  RELATIONSHIP  Are we worth our SALT? Many have thought this verse was the basis for Christians to change the culture. Is this really our job? How is salt viewed then as a relationship issue?

  1. You can lose it. The text speaks to the person who may have lost his saltiness.
  2. You can become worthless 

2.      It means CHARACTER. Character is not about what you do, it is about who are. Mark 9:49-50 Jesus said, “Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.” Supposition negative ***If it loses its saline property, (exists in name only), there is no other remedy. They are to be thrown out and trampled (“trampled” literally translates  underfoot-distained by men) This now becomes the opposite of the kingdom of heaven from v. 3-12. They are not in the kingdom.


     1. The second metaphor is explained in light of the first-SALT. First, by explaining it by the metaphor of a city. It is a sign to the traveler (a light outside the house).

     2. It is a metaphor of a lamp. It is for open display (a light inside the house).

1 Peter 2:12 – Peter remembers this event with Jesus and writes, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of wrong, they may see your good deeds, and glorify God on the day He visits us.”

      v. 16 is the interpretation of the light. Supposition positive  ***We shine-active. People see and people glorify – passive. This is not a call for self shining or to look better than others. Sinners know that they are sinners. Tension for the believer-how will we ever fulfill our function as light if we are only around saved people? John 3:18-21  answers the question as to why people do not love the light. So, what does it mean to be the light of the world? 

  1. 1.      It means LIFESTYLE. “let your light shine…”
  2. 2.      It means RADIANCE. “they may see your good works…” 

SALT operates INTERNALLY and LIGHT operates EXTERNALLY. Do these two words really describe you?

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