Passage: Matthew 5:13–5:20
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Matthew 5:13-20
Date: February 5th, 2017; Epiphany 5; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
“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” (Matthew 5:13).
“You are the salt of the earth.” What exactly does Jesus mean by this?
Are you salty? Are you salty enough? How do you know if you are salty enough?
How do you know that you are not one of those who are no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet?
That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?
This warning from Jesus gives us a good opportunity to evaluate ourselves and our saltiness.
What does it mean when we say that someone is the “salt of the earth?”
Well, we typically mean that they are a good person.
They are kind and compassionate and caring. They never say anything bad about anyone.
They help people and build them up and they always have a smile on their face.
Simply put – When we say someone is the salt of the earth we mean that they are good people who do good works.
Does this describe you?
Are you one of the salty ones or are you going to be trampled underfoot?
How can you tell? How can you tell if you do enough?
When you look at the people in the pews around you, how does your saltiness compare?
That guy over there – he doesn’t look too salty. He doesn’t even come to church that often.
Oh, and what about her! You never see her at any meetings – not much salt going on there!
And did you hear about what that guy got himself into? Surely anyone who is salty would never sin like that!
Well, and when we compare ourselves to the world around us - we are definitely more salty than all of those people!
Maybe you have been good enough to be saved from being trampled underfoot after all!
Oh, but wait a minute.
There is another warning from Jesus at the end of our gospel reading that we should maybe look at as well.
He says, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).
That doesn’t sound good, does it?
I guess we can’t compare our saltiness to those around us in the pews and out there in the world, but we need to compare it to that of the scribes and Pharisees.
In fact, even their saltiness, their righteousness, wasn’t enough because Jesus says that we must exceed it.
Then there are those other Bible passages that tell us that we can never make ourselves salty enough to enter the kingdom of heaven.
We read in Isaiah chapter 64, “All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.”
We read in Romans chapter 3, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
We read in 1 John chapter 1, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
When we hear Jesus’ warnings, when we hear these Bible passages, and when we examine ourselves in the mirror of God’s Law – we quickly become aware of how short we fall.
Our righteousness does not exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees – and it never will.
When we are honest with ourselves we see that we do not deserve to enter the kingdom of heaven. We see that we deserve to be thrown out and trampled.
How blessed we are that God is gracious, loving, and merciful.
How blessed we are that God the Father sent Christ Jesus into our flesh to live a life of righteousness that not only exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, but was completely perfect and holy in every way.
How blessed we are that God poured out his wrath on his perfect Son so that we may be forgiven and be set free from the punishment and death that our sin deserves.
How blessed we are that God gives us the gift of faith that receives the salvation that Christ accomplished for us through his life, death, and resurrection.
Because of everything that Christ has done for you, “You are the salt of the earth.”
Not because you have made yourself salty by doing a bunch of good works, but because Christ has made you salty by cleansing you with his blood.
Notice that in our gospel reading Jesus did not say, “You better become the salt of the earth!”
Instead, he said, “You are the salt of the earth.”
This is not a command. It is a description of who you are.
You are the salt of the earth not because of what you have done - but because of what Jesus has done for you.
You are the salt of the earth because you have been made salty in Jesus.
You were made salty in the blessed waters of Holy Baptism where everything that Jesus did for the world was personally given to you. It was made personally yours.
You are made salty with the body and blood of Jesus in Holy Communion – he salts you with his forgiveness, strength, and promise of eternal life.
“You are the salt of the earth.” This is who you are.
You are the salt of the earth as you serve God in your vocations by being a loving spouse, parent, child, co-worker, neighbour, student, friend.
You are the salt of the earth as you forgive others as you have been forgiven.
As you show compassion. As you are charitable and generous. As you are patient and kind.
You are the salt of the earth as you proclaim to others burdened by sin and death that Christ has died for them too. That their sins are forgiven. That they too have been promised eternal life in the kingdom of heaven.
In Jesus, through Jesus, because of Jesus – you are the salt of the earth! Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.