Last Sunday morning, I preached a sermon on Matthew 5:13-16, where the Lord Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth, and the light of the world.
Unfortunately, something strange happened fifteen seconds into my sermon – my phone rang. I use my iPhone to record my sermons, and this is the first time that’s happened. And no, I didn’t answer it – as it turns out, it was one of those recorded messages that begins with the word, “Congratulations!” and just goes downhill from there.
So as I struggled with my vibrating phone behind my lectern, I switched the “record” button off, and the sermon wasn’t recorded. But here’s the written text of the sermon. On the last day of 2014, it’s good for us to reflect on passages like this – looking back over the year that was, while at the same time looking forward to the year to come. We are the salt of the earth, and the light of the world. How did we do in our preserving and light-reflecting task in 2014? And what will we do to fulfil our calling in 2015?
Here’s the sermon:
Sermon on the Mount Sermon Series (2014) #9 – Matthew 5:13-16
Scripture reading: Ephesians 5:1-21
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ,
For thousands of years, before there were refrigerators and freezers, there was salt. Without salt, you wouldn’t be able to store many types for food for any length of time; your meat or your fish would rot, and you would go hungry. So, in the pre-industrial world, salt was not a luxury – it was a necessity. Salt was a precious commodity; you had to have salt if you wanted to live.
And before electricity was understood and harnessed, before the invention of the lightbulb, light was also a precious commodity. We don’t even think about it today – we flick a switch, and we have plenty of light. We can read, we can do our work, we can go about our activities as usual, even in December, when we’re living in darkness for much of the day. But in the ancient world, it wasn’t like that. Light wasn’t something that people took for granted; they had to plan, they had to work hard, to stave off the darkness. And what light there was on a dark night was nothing like the brightness we experience as normal in the 21st Century, whatever the time of year.
In that context, the Lord Jesus told His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth,” and “You are the light of the world.” First of all, we need to pay close attention to the words the Lord Jesus uses here; He doesn’t say, “You must be the light of the world,” and “You must be the salt of the earth,” and He doesn’t say, “You have the light of the world,” or “You are in possession of the salt of the earth.” He says, “This is what you are. And because this is what you are, this is what you have been made, this is what you must be.”
So this morning, on this last Sunday of the year of our Lord 2014, we will see what this means for us. What is our role as God’s people, as the disciples of Christ today, as we live in relation to the world? We’ll look at why the world needs us to be salt and light, and also what it means for us to be that salt and light. Continue reading