Monday, February 3, 2014

Salty and Bright Matthew 5:13-20

God shapes and reshapes identities: so when Jesus calls you salt and light he's announcing who you are in him Matthew 5:13-14. Maybe you say no to Jesus, "But I am not very salty or very bright." Remember who's calling you salt and light: the one who made the whole of everything says you are salt and light for the world.

It's possible to mistake Jesus' words for a coach's pep talk. Think of an encouraging half time speech from a great coach. You might know of a coach who calls out the best from within his players natural talents. Jesus is doing something different; He names a new identity and ability that comes from God himself. Salt and light aren't in anybody by nature. Salt and light aren't a byproduct of human efforts at being good. The new identity as salt and light changes believers for the sake of the world.

Luther wrote of preachers as salt and light standing bright for the whole world to see,

It is a hard job to be an apostle or a preacher and carry out this kind of office, yes, an impossible one, judging according to flesh and blood. But they must be people who do it gladly for the sake of God and the Lord Christ. He does not want to compel anyone or drive him with commandments. For the state of being a Christian is one that requires only willing hearts. Anyone who does not heartily want it had better leave it alone. But this is our consolation: When we are in trouble and the world and the devil are glaring at us and acting as cruelly as possible, then He says to us: “You are the salt of the earth.” When the Word shines into a man’s heart so that he can depend on it and lay uncontested claim to the title “God’s salt,” then let anyone who refuses to laugh be as angry and cruel as he pleases. With His single word I can be more defiant and boastful than they with all their power, swords, and guns. Luther's works, vol. 21p 54: The Sermon on the Mount. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
Jesus' Sermon on the Mount had a bigger audience than the fisherman who would tell the Good News of his death and rising to the world, no, Matthew 5-7 is full of vision and possibility for all who believe.

Some see this sermon as a new law--a new standard for living--new rules to made and enforced most especially for others. Read Jesus' words close. Jesus is speaking of God making his followers salt and light even if they aren't salty or bright on their own.

This sermon reveals Jesus' vision. It's his plan to work through Word and Spirit. Jesus spoke of a present reality in which God is alive and at work. Jesus spoke of his people acting in this world on their redeemer's behalf. Jesus spoke of a world in which the spiritually hungry, the peacemakers and the mourners would see God move to meet the deepest hungers of their souls. In short, Jesus shared his vision. He tells what he's doing for his followers moving and reordering this world from the bottom up .

Right after Jesus shared this vision Matthew tells how He called to all who could hear him, close friends and onlookers in the great crowd, that they had new identities: You are salt Matthew 5:13 and you are light Matthew 5:.14. Jesus assigned these new identity to all who heard him that day: you are salt and light. Let that sink in for a minute. You are salt and light for the sake of the world.
Peace, and thanks for reading. John.

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