Matthew 5:13 – Jesus’ Disciples
Jesus was direct in His speech and in His teaching, especially when talking to and teaching His disciples. Read Matthew 5:13 as He tells His disciples,
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by people.”
WHAT DOES IT SAY?
Imagine with me that you, as a disciple of Jesus, are sitting with Him as He talks to you and others. He has just finished describing the difficulties of becoming His disciple and entering the Kingdom of God.
Now, He calls you “salt of the earth”.
The most common and important seasoning in Israel was salt (Job 6:6), demonstrated by how it is referenced throughout the Bible, and by how its use was mandated with most sacrifices (Leviticus 2:13). You would have been referred to as a person who, like salt, was precious. In Jesus’ day, salt was a valued commodity. Roman soldiers were sometimes paid with salt, giving rise to the phrase “worth his salt.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Jesus is saying that, like salt, His disciples would have a preserving influence. Salt was used to preserve and to slow decay. Likewise, Christians should have a preserving influence on their culture.
Disciples, like salt, should add flavor to their community, making the earth a purer and more palatable place to live.
Then, without pausing, He looks directly at you and says, “But, if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?”
The word “tasteless” was a familiar word to the Jewish audience of that day as to mean “to be foolish, to turn to foolishness, tainted, and thus: tasteless, made useless.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
So, the question with which you are faced is
“If you, as a disciple of Jesus, who should be a preserving influence and a purifying influence on those around you, have lost those qualities and thus, have become useless as a disciple of Jesus, how you can be made useful again?”
This borders on shocking, almost an indictment. The question Jesus is asking is a direct interrogatory. In other words, “if you know of a way, tell me, because there is no way.”
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Then, as if to hammer the point home, Jesus bluntly says, ”It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by people.” Staying with the metaphor of salt, at that time, garbage would have been disposed by throwing it out, into the street. This explains why once the salt is cast out it will be trodden under the foot of men as useless garbage. A stark warning to the disciples as to the commitment required to follow Jesus as His disciple and the consequence of failure.
He is saying that if you are going to enter into a covenant agreement to follow Jesus as His disciple, the standards are impossibly high, the disciplines are impossibly strict and the commitment is for life.
We should be reminded of another time Jesus was talking to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?”
And looking at them, Jesus said, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
The Disciples’ Reward
Somehow, you would expect it would be Peter to respond to Jesus and boldly ask, “We have left everything and followed You; what is in this for us?”
Jesus answered Peter and said, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, now in this life, and in the age to come, will inherit eternal life.”
The good news is that God is eternally faithful to finish the work He has begun in you. He is rich in grace and abounding in mercy and loving kindness. Jesus reminds you that His burden is light and, His yoke is easy and that all who come to Him will find rest for their soul, and He will in no way cast you out.
Now that you know a little more, will you follow Him? He is calling.
Your Brother and Friend,
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