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Jesus’ Disciples Are Salt and Light

“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 by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”Matthew 5:13-16

In the course of His public ministry Jesus often used word pictures to present the teachings of God’s Word.

Jesus was a master at using things that people saw or used on a daily basis to make vivid in their minds important, heavenly truths. In His Sermon on the Mount, for example, Jesus used two commonly used items—salt and light—for purposes of illustration.

Salt is generally considered an ingredient which, when sprinkled on, makes food taste better. To the people of Jesus’ day salt was even more valuable as a preservative. In a time when there were no refrigerators, salt was added
to food to slow down the
deterioration process.

What heavenly truth was Jesus presenting when He pictured His disciples as “the salt of the earth”? In the same way that salt, when added to food, helps to keep it from spoiling, so also when disciples of Jesus are “sprinkled” here and there, they help prevent the world from becoming totally corrupt.

The world is plenty evil and will be to the end of time. However, were it not for believers in Jesus, things would be much worse.

The Savior uses this illustration to bring home to our hearts the great love He has shown in making us holy people through faith in His blood—and to exhort us to live as His holy people in the midst a spiritually corrupt and dying world. As we believers lead lives of loving service and devotion to our Lord, He promises to use our Christian life and witness to check the evil around us in the world and to win souls for His eternal kingdom.

In Actions, Words, and Attitudes

Jesus also describes His disciples as “the light of the world.”

When we were brought to faith through the gospel, Jesus called us to shine the light of His Savior-love to those who still living in the dark night of unbelief. How may we function as light-bearers for Jesus?

We do this by letting our glorious status as God’s blood-bought children be seen in our actions, words, and attitudes.

When we show patience and love for others, when we treat them with kindness, when we strive to lead holy lives and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world—in short, when we make it our life’s aim to walk with Jesus, following His example pure, fleeing the world which would deceive us and allure our souls to sin—then our Lord promises to use our godly works to draw people to Himself that they may learn to praise the heavenly Father just as we do.

How is it possible for disciples of Jesus living in a wicked world to remain the salt and the light of the world? This is something that cannot be done in our
own strength.

Praise be to God who promises to use His holy Word and Sacrament to preserve us in the faith. Through the message of His love for poor sinners that we hear and learn about faithfully, He enables us to retain our salt-nature. He keeps our faith-lamp burning brightly. He equips us for a life of good works that serves for the spiritual good of others and for a life that redounds to the glory of His
saving name.

So we pray:

O Holy Spirit, enter in And in our hearts Your work begin,Your dwelling place now make us. Sun of the soul, O Light divine,  Around and in us brightly shine, To joy and gladness wake us That we may be Truly living, To You giving Prayer unceasing, And in love be still increasing.(Lutheran Service Book, #913:1)