Series: Student Ministry: The Sermon on the Mount

If you will remember quite some time ago the first Captain America movie was released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Bucky Barnes and Steve Rogers became great friends. They were introduced when Bucky saved Steve Rogers in a back alley from a beating. Steve Rogers was given a formula that would make him Captain America.

In a fight, at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, Bucky fights bravely alongside Cap. He blocks a shot with Captain America’s shield and falls out of a moving train. He falls, it seems, to his death as Captain America is trying to save his friend. Steve Rogers remembers who Bucky is: a loyal, brave, and courageous best friend.

Years later, many years later Captain America runs into Bucky again. Bucky has been given a serum that has made him incredibly powerful, much like Steve Rogers was. But, Bucky has been reprogrammed to be an incredibly powerful villain known as the Winter Soldier. Now, Steve Rogers knows who Bucky really and truly is. He is a man who is loyal, brave, and a courageous best friend. In short, Bucky was a hero and Cap thinks that he still is. Many things happen, but what is important for our purposes here is that Captain America through a long series of events attempts to call Bucky out of his programming of the Winter Soldier. Captain America knows who Bucky really is and calls him to live that way.

Last week we discussed the great and glorious salvation that Christ has achieved for us and given to us. He has brought us out of the Kingdom of Darkness and into His Kingdom of Light. And, as He declared His blessings upon us He showed us who we really are in Him. And here Jesus calls us out of the attempted programming of this world to be salt and light, heroes of this world.

You are salt and light in a dark and decaying world, be who you are in Christ.


 Amid the Decay You Are The Preservative and Disinfectant (Matthew 5:13)


Notice what Jesus says here to His disciples. He doesn’t say go and be salt. He says, “You are the salt of the Earth.” He doesn’t start this discussion off by telling them what to do, He tells them who they are. He gives them their identity.

Captain America knew who Bucky really was and here Jesus knows who we really are. We are those who He talked about last week as His. And because we are part of His Kingdom we are the salt of the Earth.

Salt in Jesus’ day was incredibly useful. The Roman historian Pliny supposedly stated that there was nothing more useful than salt and sunshine. We only think of salt as being something that gives food flavor today, but in that day it did much more. Not only did it give food flavor but it was used for preserving meat when there were no refrigerators, a disinfectant, and at times it was used in small doses as fertilizer to help the plants grow.

The most used and useful uses for it were as a preservative for meat and as a disinfectant. With refrigerators, we don’t use salt that much for preserving food anymore, though it would have been necessary in Jesus’ day. But, we still use salt as a disinfectant today. If you have a sore throat one of the first things that you are supposed to do is gargle salt water. Salt is still used in wounds today as well. The salt pulls the moisture away from the wound, by doing so the bacteria and fungus are destroyed. Salt was also used to clean within a day when chemicals like bleach were not in use. Even today it is advised to clean cast iron skillets with a little water and salt. The salt works to clean the pan without causing the rust associated with the cleaning methods we often use today.

So, salt’s primary usage in Jesus’ day was as a preservative and disinfectant.

This world, in which is the domain of the lost is in decay. When Adam and Eve sinned it brought sin and death into this world. Paul describes this decay as the world groaning for the redemption that will one day be brought in Christ (Romans 8:22). It is in a state of decay due to the curse of sin and death that lies upon it. And so are people. The Kingdom of Christ, will however, not pass away. It will remain and those within the Kingdom of Christ are the salt of the Earth. They have the disinfecting message of the gospel needed to stop your own personal decay. That message is that we are sinners in need of a Savior. We have rebelled against God and deserve the punishment of His wrath. So, not only do we live in a state of decay but the end of this decay is not non-existence but eternal punishment for our rebellion. The Good News, which is the salt that you need to cleanse you from your rebellion and save your soul is that God the Son came to Earth. His name is Jesus. He lived a perfect life and died on the cross bearing the punishment for your sin. Your sins were credited to Him and He paid for them through His death, making you sinless. His perfect life is credited to you making you righteous.  He then rose from the dead three days later, conquering the power of sin and death.

Your response to this message is repentance and faith. Repentance is turning from sin. Or, turning from ruling your own life. You are no longer king of your own life Christ is. Christ is king. And you trust in Him. That is called faith. You cannot save yourself, only Christ can and you trust in Him not yourself. These are really and truly two sides of the same coin. We trust in Christ and He is now our King and our Savior.

This is the salt that you need to cleanse you from your sin and make you righteous before God.

Christian, it is for you to deliver this message. Salt the Earth with the message of Christ’s salvation. Be who you are in Christ. You are the salt of the Earth, now go make things salty. Preserve what is good and true. Disinfect the decaying through the message of what Christ has done.

I sat outside on my porch while I typed this message. I saw lots of butterflies and bees all over the wildflowers that I planted in the garden this year. They moved from the wildflowers to the fruit that I’ve planted in the garden. They flew from tomatoes, to bell peppers, to squash, to watermelons, to green beans and back to the flowers. They were doing what bees and butterflies do, but it is incredibly beneficial to me. These plants put on a flower that if pollinated becomes a fruit. What happens if its not pollenated? After a while it dries up and falls to the ground where it decays until it becomes a part of the soil. Bees being bees and butterflies being butterflies is greatly beneficial to the Earth.

Christians being Christians is very beneficial to a lost and dying world. When the salt of the Earth acts like the salt of the Earth the good things that are to be preserved in this world remain and the people decaying all around you hear the cleansing message of God’s Word.


Amid the Darkness, You Are The Light (Matthew 5:14-16)


Concerning the light of the world, Jesus again makes a declaration of who we are. As believers, we are the Light of the World. He doesn’t say go be the light. He says that is who you are.

Then Jesus discusses a city on a hill not being able to be hidden. In this day the huge white limestone buildings of a large city placed on a hill could be seen from very, very far away. Imagine the amount of light that would reflect off the massive white buildings. There would be no hiding these buildings or this city.

Jesus then discusses the usage of an oil lamp in a house. It is lit to give light to the whole house. No one would consider lighting a lamp and then hiding its light. It would be a waste of oil and just plain stupid. Rather they put the lamp on a lampstand so that the light could be seen by all.

This world dwells in darkness, pitch black darkness. What is desperately needed is the light of Christ. He brought redemption, salvation for the world through His perfect life, death, and resurrection. And He made a people for Himself who are the salt and light of this world.

Our lives should be characterized by who we are. We are the Light of the World because of who we are in Christ. We are a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. We are the lamp the gives light to the whole house. The dark world should be able to look at us and see the goodness of Christ flowing through our lives and the relationships that we have with one another. They should see our good works “and give glory to the Father who is in heaven”. (Matthew 5:16 ESV)

This lost and dying world that lives in darkness should see the way we live our lives and hear the message we have to deliver and give glory to God.


Be On Guard: Acting In Opposition To Your New Nature In Christ Negates Your Usefulness (Matthew 5:13b & 15)


Salt, in the form that we have it and use it today doesn’t really lose its saltiness. But, salt in Jesus’ day was not pure salt like we have n our homes. The impurities in the salt made it able to lose its saltiness. When this happened salt could not be used in the many useful ways that it was oftentimes used. As Jesus put it, it was only useful then to be “thrown out and trampled under people’s feet” (Matthew 5:13b). The roofs in Jesus’ day were built with reeds, straw, or something else of that nature and then mud or clay was spread on top of it. It was important for the roof to be strong because people hung out on top of their roofs. The salt that went bad was oftentimes thrown out onto the roof and would help to harden the mud that was on the roof. Since this is where people hung out with each other it was “trodden under foot”.

When you live according to who you are in Christ then you are incredibly useful. When you live according to the patterns of this world rather than the patterns of the Kingdom your usefulness goes away. In fact, your behavior could actually be damaging only hardening the hearts of the people around you to the gospel.

When we do not behave as we ought, when we are tainted and stained by the world our witness is lost to the world. When we are angry at people constantly for their political position, when we speak ill of people, when we are filthy in our manner of speech and conduct Christ is not honored and our witness is lost to the world.


Concluding Thoughts


We need to be people who live as we are in Christ. You are the salt and light in a dark and decaying world. Be who you are in Christ and others will give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.