For those of us who have the passion to read our Bible every day …
From time to time we read very difficult passages.
They are difficult for us because they demand firm decision making and sacrifices on our part to fully agree with what Jesus said and to do them!
They are difficult because they address our relationship with God and the people around us.
Here is an example –
13 “You are the salt of the earth, 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.
Was Jesus talking about salt used for food?
Jesus was preaching parable and using rabbinic symbolism because He said “You are the salt of the earth”
Like in Matthew 16:6 when Jesus warned his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, they thought they had no bread. But Jesus was referring to the teaching and doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees!
A good way to gain a better understanding of what Jesus’ said is to apply the following two basic principles:
1) Jesus’ teachings and messages can be cross referenced to what was written or revealed in the Old Testament. The Old Testament does not just prophesy about the coming of Jesus, but also about His ministry, and His teachings. Therefore being a good student of the Old Testament will give us a better understanding of what Jesus said and taught.
2) Jesus’ message highlights relationship between God and man. Jesus’ message also teaches us about personal relationships but prioritizes relationship between God and man.
Now let’s look at Matthew 5:13
“You are the salt of the earth, 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.
From Old Testament scriptures, the word “salt” can be used to describe God’s covenant relationship with Man.
Leviticus 2:3 – You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.
Numbers 18:19 – All the holy contributions that the people of Israel present to the Lord I give to you, and to your sons and daughters with you, as a perpetual due. It is a covenant of salt forever before the Lord for you and for your offspring with you.”
2 Chronicles 13:5– Ought you not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?
Matthew 5:13 first and foremost is with reference to God’s covenant relationship with man. And the warning that goes with it correspond exactly to what Moses said in
26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.
When Jesus said “You are the salt of the earth” that is referring to a person who is keeping faith and covenant relationship with God.
A person in faith and covenant relationship with God will also be God’s agent of godly influence in society.
For this “salt” to “lost its taste” it means that person abandoned his faith and covenant relationship with God, and thus lost his purpose to be ambassador for Christ.
How can such thing happen?
We know from Old Testament records, there were incidents when Israel committed apostasy on a national level and suffered the consequences of being “thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
The eventual destruction of Jerusalem and the First Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BC was a result of their disobedience and breaking covenant relationship with God over long period of time.
Israel in the Old Testament was called to be living witness of God’s salvation plan to the world. But when they break covenant relationship with God they lost their purpose and identity.
10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Jeremiah was sent by God to restore Israel.
When disaster strikes on a national level, everyone suffers, even if you have no direct connection with it. In times of war and conflict, everyone suffers, regardless of your faith and practices.
Jeremiah was keeping faith with God but he suffered the consequences of those who abandon faith.
Like the days of Jeremiah when he was called to turn the hearts of the people back to God, Jesus is calling all people to keep faith and covenant relationship with God.
Jesus was preaching to a nation who never forgets their history.
Jesus was also preaching to a generation looking for hope in the promises of God while experiencing war and conflict.
Jesus came to save all man, including Jews and Gentiles.
God’s salvation plan is revealed and fulfilled in Jesus.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached all over the world.
From the time of Acts, the Gospel spread extensively to the Gentile world, but during the time of the Ottoman Empire there were Christians who abandon their faith.
There were cases of Christians who walk away from their covenant relationship with God when their life is under threat.
The message of Matthew 5:13 reflected both a warning against apostasy and an encouragement to keep faith.
Those who keep their faith with Jesus will continue to live their purpose for God.
Those who keep faith with Jesus will continue to stand firm, even when you are persecuted for doing that which is right and good according to the will of God.
So how can we embrace suffering as a disciple of Christ?
More important, how do we bear witness to the Gospel of Christ in times of suffering and hardship?
How do we make sure salt does not loose flavor?
Be living witness of Jesus death and resurrection
Proclaim Jesus is the Messiah who fulfilled the promises of God to save us.
Keep preaching Jesus
To be continue …