Published on June 24th, 2019 | by squad-admin0
Jesus, salt & light and the law. Matthew 5:13-20. June 12, 2019
Womin-Jeka, (which is the local Wurundjeri indigenous phrase for welcome in my part of Australia) sisters and brothers and warm greetings from a mild Melbourne winter. I trust all is well in your world. Today’s gospel text comes from Matthew 5:13-20, where Jesus instructs his followers on being salt and light before going on to talk about the Law.
If we want to know Jesus mission and vision for his ministry, then we can go no further than his teachings as recorded in Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount. This includes the Beatitudes, and comes at the beginning of his public ministry.
They aren’t exactly the most popular things he ever said, and it is hard to see a politician using them as their election platform today, “blessed are the poor, the meek, those who grieve’, etc Jesus here, never usually concerned with what others think of him, is speaking of an alternative kingdom, the kingdom of God, where the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
Jesus in this passage is especially interested in the way we live our lives, not just having the right theology, but actually living it out in our lives, to be salt and light. This comes from the inside, not just looking the part on the outside.
Salt and light in and of themselves are not of any value. But they actually add to the experience of what is going on. Salt adds flavor and preserves, light enables us to see what is around us. Jesus is urging us to be salt and light is calling us to live lives that point people to him. We should never underestimate our impact; one act of love, being salt and light, can change the world, or at least for 1 person it may.
Jesus then goes on to talk about the law, and prophets. He says, “I have come not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.” or to make it serve its intended purpose here and now, today.
So in this whole Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is reinterpreting the law. He doesn’t want to get rid of it, he’s trying to change the way people observe it, so that it will do what it’s meant to do to them, and in turn to the whole world. He says, ”…not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.” Jesus isn’t getting rid of the law. He’s redefining obedience to it.
Many people today think only in terms of black/white, in/out, with us/against us; we’re right/ you’re wrong and they are highly invested in: uniformity & control & conformity. This is what the Pharisees had done with the law. They became so focused on doing things exactly right, perfect observance, strict standards… that there was no room for grace,. They left others out. and they became extremely concerned with how they looked to others. And so Jesus says “this isn’t righteousness, this is immaturity!”
Many of us are like this today, we think in black and white terms, and are more concerned with appearances than actually living it out ourselves. So Jesus’s whole aim is NOT to get rid of the law, but to allow the law to do what it’s supposed to do: to help us be transformed from the inside out.
How does Jesus want us to live as salt and light today? How is he calling us to point to him? How is he wanting us to transform our lives from the inside? And how are we behaving like the pharisees and not out of grace and love to others?
May God grant us his eyes, ears, hands and feet to live for him today, Amen.
Barro – GSCMC Melbourne chapter.
(Today’s image is from Newcastle in 1995, myself with some new NSW, Qld and UK Squad members heading out on a weekend run)