Symbolism of salt: Jesus identified His people as the salt of the earth. How salty are you? *Photo supplied
Symbolism of salt: Jesus identified His people as the salt of the earth. How salty are you? *Photo supplied
We have been learning some powerful lessons that Jesus taught on a mountainside near the Lake of Galilee.

Imagine the scene: a large crowd had gathered — a diverse population from various regions — and they covered the hillside. As Jesus talked the crowd hung on every word that He uttered. 

They found He referred to topics they had heard about before, but He spoke in a new way. What was amazing about His method of teaching was that He never taught to impress or please; He simply spoke the truth. 

The people on the mountainside were from all walks of life, but they had one thing in common — they were in need of a Saviour.

Today, no matter what our background, socio-economic status, family upbringing or nationality — like the crowd on the mountainside — we all need a relationship with our Creator. 

God the Father sent Jesus so that we would understand what He is like so that when we accept Jesus as personal Saviour we would also understand who we are. 

Our identity is found in God, for we have been created in His image. That’s what this week’s passage is about. Let us look at it.

 “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 on by men” (Matthew 5:13).

That seems like a strange metaphor, right? Salt? Why would Jesus tell the people that want to follow Him that they are the “salt of the earth”?

In order to understand this passage, as with any passage, we need to look at the historical context and culture of the time. 

During the time of Christ — and like many years ago in Bermuda before refrigeration — one use of salt was in the preservation of food.

Therefore, one of the marks of God’s people is that they should be used of God to bring preservation to people in this world by living according to the agenda and the standards of the kingdom of heaven. 

By simply taking God at His word and living for Him we bring about a preservation of moral, good values, and God’s will on the earth. This also is in line with how Jesus taught us how to pray.

About four years ago a mission’s team from Cornerstone went to Lethem, Guyana, in the most northern part of South America. We arrived at a remote place near the border of Brazil in a very small plane. We were going to direct a youth conference of approximately 200 Christian teenagers from various Indian tribes including the Arawaks and Wai Wais, tribes that up to this point I only studied in a high school geography class. 

When we arrived at the campsite, I could not help but notice a carcass of beef hanging from a tree. It was covered in salt and was ‘curing’ so it could be used later on.

It was simply a part of their custom because there was no refrigeration, just like in Jesus’ time.  Cultural exchange is mind-expanding and a good thing we thought.

However, we noticed a dog licking the ‘curing’ meat as one of the locals shooed the dog away. Needless to say, our attitude toward cultural differences changed.  All of a sudden, our group of travellers decided to either become vegetarians and those who already decided to fast that week were certainly delighted! 

Salt has a second purpose as brought out by Christ: it is to bring taste to food. Think about the last time you had a meal that was very bland.

Did you reach for the saltshaker almost without thinking?

Have you been on a health kick and purchased some salt-free and fat-free chips? (I only did that once!) Let’s face it, we Bermudians like our salt! Without it, our food just doesn’t taste as good and loses its appeal.

Jesus said that if we lose our saltiness we become quite purposeless. We are to be appealing to those who do not know Jesus Christ by how we live our lives and how we make our decisions. We should not be repelling people away from Jesus, but we should be so ‘salty’ that we make people thirsty for God just by people hanging around us. They should not see hypocrisy, but a genuine heart for God. 

As you live for Christ today, I would like to remind you that we all need to be the salt of this world. We are to preserve it, but we are also to make people thirsty for the living water…. which is a real relationship with Jesus Christ.

Gary C. Simons serves as the Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Bible Fellowship, presently meeting at CedarBridge Academy each Sunday at 10am.