Salt and Light

Scriptures: Matthew 5:13-20

Let us pray:

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts reflect your light and bring you joy. Amen.

Last week we looked at the Beatitudes, examining why they set the tone and foundation for the Sermon on the Mount, the ministry of Jesus, and the life of discipleship. Today’s passage from the Sermon on the Mount:

“…Expands what we learn about the call to discipleship…. In verses 13–14, Jesus uses two metaphors to describe and prescribe who his followers are and what they do for and in the world. The first metaphor, “You are the salt of the earth” (v. 13), suggests that Jesus gives… his disciples a distinctive capacity to elicit goodness on the earth. Like salt, which is used to alter or enhance the tastes of food, the disciples’ capacity to elicit goodness as they participate on the earth should be of profound consequence….”[1]

What we have to watch out for as modern disciples is that, no less than the original hearers, we may forget we are called to:

“…Disorder the status quo by valuing those who are dispossessed, caring for those who suffer loss, seeking to do justice, showing mercy, having integrity, being peacemakers, and courageously standing for what [we] believe.”[2]

There are also some additional uses of salt that we should bring to the fore; after all it does kill slugs and melt snow. None-the-less,

“Salt has an edge as well as a satisfying taste. It makes come alive what would otherwise seem tasteless and bland. In certain circumstances, salt can be used as a preservative, keeping food fresh for an extended period of time. Salt is also used to stimulate thirst. We can begin to see how this image of salt might relate to the practice of ministry…”[3]

“The second metaphor, “You are the light of the world,” invites us to consider the role of disciples as a gathered community (vv. 14–16). Light enables us to see things and is a kind of energy that gives things color, helps vegetation to grow, provides solar power for electricity, and can be focused for specific uses, such as a laser.

Like light, the disciples as a gathered community have the overarching purpose of being the mirror that refracts God’s light so that all Peoples and nations can know of God’s justice and mercy. As a gathered community the disciples are like light when they engage others in the world, enabling diversity (giving things color), nurturing a healthy, Eco-friendly world (helping vegetation to grow), generating policies for Eco-justice (providing solar power), and restoring or repairing whatever relationships that need such (focusing for specific purposes).”[4]


“Jesus encourages his followers to bring light to a dark and broken world. The light is the light of the gospel, and it draws all people to its warmth and radiance. This mission has been primary, from the very beginning, throughout every age. … In order for the light to be seen, we must be willing to go where the darkness exists, to engage and walk through it, so that, in time, the light can overcome it.”[5]

There is danger for the light-bearer, however. It is this: if we are not aware of the darkness within ourselves, if we do not read our inner landscape, as Parker Palmer calls it, we cannot be effective light-bringers. Instead, we potentially bring our own shadows and partial-light out into the open and pass them on. I speak for myself when I say, “O Holy One, let not the fear of inner exploration keep me from bearing your light into my own darkness, so that when my own shadows have been illumined with your presence, you will grant me the strength to heal and bring your light unto others.”

“Be brave and salty, me hearties,” let it be our prayer that we all do this, enabling us to shine forth like the light on the hill for a world in darkness that needs to see your light now and always.

May all glory be unto the One who lived, died, and rose again for us, even Him who is the Christ. Amen? May it be so.

[1] Riggs, Marcia Y. Feasting on the Word—Year A David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, General Editors. Copyright © 2010 Westminster John Knox Press; Louisville, Kentucky; All rights reserved. Used by permission. Accordance edition hyper-texted and formatted by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 2.0

[2] Ibid.

[3] Cook, Charles James. Feasting on the Word—Year A David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, General Editors. Copyright © 2010 Westminster John Knox Press; Louisville, Kentucky; All rights reserved. Used by permission. Accordance edition hyper-texted and formatted by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 2.0

[4] Riggs, Marcia Y; Ibid.

[5] Cook, Charles James; Ibid.

Additional Inspiration:

  1. Sing/meditate with the song “The Light On the Hill” by Maire Brennan (track 3 on her album Perfect Time)
  2. Sing/meditate with the song “Shine Jesus Shine”
  3. Consider your own experience/reflect on the metaphor of Lighthouses

Questions for Reflection

What does it mean to have the mind of Christ, and how do I live with the mind of Christ in my daily activities? If I let my light shine, what will others see in me? Will others see Jesus? Will they give glory to God?

What does it mean that I am salt to the earth?

Household Prayer: Morning

God, open my eyes to see the world through your compassion. Open my mind to understand the world through your wisdom. Open my heart to receive the world through your love. Amen.

Household Prayer: Evening

Lord, if I have lived this day in the knowledge that perishes, correct my thoughts, rectify my judgments, and mend my foolish ways. Give me the mind of Christ that I may see the world rightly and discern the blessings you bestow. Amen.

About Scottrick

Parent ~ Pastor ~ Poet ~ Author
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