We continue the Sermon on the Mount series today with the remaining portion of chapter 5 after the Beatitudes in verses 13-48. Here we unpack the standard for man’s relationship with man. In the introduction to the sermon through the Beatitudes, remember, Jesus was introducing Himself and laying down the standard for man’s relation with God.
I want to stress that Jesus never once called Himself the Son of God in this address, nor did He speak about Himself at all. Yet He so brilliantly relays this information through what He says. Just as the Beatitudes progress, so does His sermon. His eloquent, yet powerful words fall layer upon layer. His wisdom, accompanied with His demands, shocks the masses.
Jesus as the Fulfilment and the Atonement
On one hand, through His Sermon on the Mount, we learn He fulfilled the Law, making us free from the Law. There would be no more need to come and go to the Temple with sacrifices and rituals. No more striving to find the perfect lamb, to drag it to the Temple, slaughter it, spill its blood in purity, to make atonement according to the Law! In order to appreciate the disbelief the people must have felt, we need to stop reading our cultural into this text and understand the culture of the day.
On the other hand, Jesus, as the Atonement, was giving us a new law in His sermon. This law is looking each of us in the eye, making new demands, raising the bar. The Sermon was so full of depth, beauty, insight and truth that 2000 years later it is still significant and utterly compelling.
Living out the Sermon on the Mount
I can only imagine what the Jews at the time must have been thinking, as the first generation to receive this message. What must they have discussed as they left the hillside that day? How long did their conversation surrounding His discourse continue? How many really understood it and were able to live it out?
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven: Humility
- Blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted: Sensitivity
- Blessed are the meek, they will inherit the earth: Gentleness
- Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled: Obedience
- Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy: Compassion
- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God: Holiness
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the Sons of God: Commitment
- Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of God: Patience
Another thing to note, in this sermon, Jesus doesn’t ever speak with condemnation or scold the crowd or expose their faults. He is totally meek, withholding His wrath. He is, in fact, the Beatitudes all wrapped into one. He is humble. He is sensitive. He is gentle, obedient, compassionate, holy, committed to the will of the Father and totally patient.
There in the hills of Judea, probably the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus passes on these standards to us as He lays out a way for us to get along, to respect each other, and to uphold this new law.
Considering verses 13-48, let’s examine salt. Salt is something so simple yet useful. What is salt good for?
The Many Uses of Salt
Besides having curing properties and the ability to kill bacteria, and healing properties, salt keep things pure. It preserves things. It is also used for flavor. But there is something else about salt that I find fascinating in fleshly terms that has significant spiritual symbolism.
Salt creates thirst. So then, if we as God’s children want to be salt to the world, we must create such a thirst in people that they must come and drink from the springs of living water! I think this symbolism is profound.
Symbolism of Salt
There is something else profound about this symbolism of God’s children being salt. You may have heard this before. In antiquity, it was also used for payment. Salt comes from the Latin word sal. There is another Latin word, salarium, which might look familiar to us. It is equivalent to our word salary. This word came about because at the end of every day, men used to get paid a certain weight of salt. While salt is one of the cheapest things in the supermarket today, it was valuable back then.
Have you ever heard the term “He isn’t worth his salt?” This would mean, “He isn’t worth whatever he’s getting paid.” In other words, a man who wasn’t worth his salt wasn’t “carrying his weight” or doing the amount of work he had actually gotten paid to do.
Do you know how the Venetians became extremely wealthy? If you gathered that, as we are on the subject of salt, that it was salt, then you are correct. Since the 7h century, the Venetians milled and produced salt from their lagoons.
In fact, the political leaders encouraged the local men to lay down their ploughs and pick up rollers and get involved with the salt works. They then used their salt mines of fortune to trade with the mainland. That is how they were able to build so many ornate palaces, decorate with such fine textiles and tapestries and fancy furnishings, and to overlay buildings outside with gold. Not only did they build luxurious houses, they were dressed to the threads. All because of salt.
What can we take away from Jesus’ teaching about salt? We must spend ourselves! If we are not savory on this earth, we are good for nothing. Not only are we good for nothing, we are wasting this phase of life, which prepares us for our role in the next phase of life determining our worth and position!
How much does this mean to you? These days on earth are few compared to the eternity we will have on the new earth! So spend yourself silly!
Jori Sams is a Christian author and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet, with over 1500 being published by Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun…