Every Christian reading this would agree that the teachings of Jesus are difficult to understand. His wisdom, being the God of Creation, is far beyond our own understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9). In this blog series, we will unpack some of the most difficult teachings from Jesus which come from Matthew 5-7 in the illustrious Sermon on the Mount. Each blog will touch on a different teaching from Jesus within His most famous sermon in an effort to help you apply His teachings to your life as a Christian working in the sport industry.
In our second blog of the Sermon on the Mount series, we’ll help you better understand and apply Jesus’ teachings on being the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13) and the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).
Salt of the Earth
As discussed in our first blog unpacking the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is teaching directly to His disciples (Matthew 5:1-2) with the crowds listening to Him teach. Jesus begins His teaching on salt and light by stating in Matthew 5:13 that His disciples were the salt of the earth. It is important to note that Jesus is not calling everyone in the crowd the salt of the earth, but specifically His followers.
Being called the salt of the earth was a big deal in Jesus’ day. Unlike today, salt was a precious and valued commodity in the ancient world. Roman soldiers would occasionally be paid with salt because of its high value. So, Jesus is claiming that His followers would be a precious and valued resource not only for His purposes but for the benefit of those they would influence.
Salt was in Jesus’ day and is in our day used as a preservative. Similarly, Jesus notes that His disciples would ‘preserve’ themselves and those around them who obeyed the message they were teaching. Furthermore, the message and teachings of Jesus would be preserved through the disciples and their teachings, as they continue to be preserved today!
Lastly, salt adds flavor. Jesus’ followers would not only add flavor but present a new flavor to both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 10:12). In our modern-day context, we can add flavor to our environment by the way we choose to live and through the message of the gospel.
Jesus also notes in Matthew 5:13 the dangers that come with losing your saltiness. “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”
The glaring question from this verse is, how can we lose our saltiness as followers of Jesus? Salt without saltiness is worthless because it can no longer provide any of the benefits people seek from it. Similarly, a disciple without a genuine faith in Jesus that plays itself out through good deeds (James 2:26) is useless. As Jesus states in this verse, for those that do not have a faith in Christ that gives their life ‘flavor,’ there will be divine judgment, which Jesus describes as being thrown out and trampled.
The Light of the World
Similarly to Jesus calling His disciples the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13), Jesus calls His followers the light of the world in Matthew 5:14. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”
In saying this, Jesus gives His followers a great compliment and an even greater responsibility. In John 8:12, Jesus calls Himself the light of the world. “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” As disciples of Christ, we not only receive His light, but we reflect that light (Acts 1:8).
In a simple sense, we know that the purpose of light is to reveal what is true and real. If you are driving along the road at night, you naturally have your headlights on so that you can see the direction you are heading. This title of being the light of the world is very similar to the purpose of light. We are called as followers of Jesus to reveal the truth of who God is and what His gospel of salvation is (1 John 1:7).
Jesus provides another example for His disciples on the effect of being the light of the world in Matthew 5:14 by stating, “A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” A town that is built on a hill is visible from long distances. Imagine driving to New York City. You could see the massive skyscrapers for miles and miles before you actually entered the city. Similarly, Jesus wants His followers' lives to attract the attention of those around them. Our light should shine in such a way that it would be impossible to be hidden. Our conversion cannot and should not be hidden!
Jesus gives yet another example for His disciples on their call to be the light of the world in Matthew 5:15, “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”
It seems obvious that nobody would put a lamp under a bowl, as the bowl would drown out the light, and the light that the lamp provides would be buried. Instead, it would make sense to place the lamp on a stand so that its light would fill the room. This is exactly what Jesus is getting at. If we smother our light that comes from Jesus (1 Peter 2:9), we eliminate the ability for Jesus to be light for those around us. However, if we proclaim our faith through word and deed, the light of Christ will shine in our lives like a lamp on a stand.
Jesus states something similar in the final portion of this message on salt and light in Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” If we allow our light to shine before others, as a town on a hill cannot be hidden, and a lamp shines from a stand, our good deeds will be seen, and the name of our Father will be glorified. This is a high calling from the Lord and not one to be taken lightly. We are glory reflectors!
Jesus had a high calling for His disciples in this portion of the Sermon on the Mount. They were called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. As His disciples in the modern era, our calling is no different. If we genuinely trust and follow Jesus, then we know our responsibility is to add flavor to the people we touch through the message of Christ’s love and grace, as well as be a light to the world around us. If you are a Christian working in the sport industry, our prayer is that you would strive to be salt and light in a space that desperately needs the love and mercy that only comes through Jesus Christ.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to hear from you!