Matthew – Day 28 – Salt

 In Bible Studies, The Book of Matthew

lease begin by reading the Shema out loud and continue trying to memorize it.

“Hear, O Israel. The LORD is our God. The LORD alone. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Amen.”

Also, recite The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12).

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Now let’s continue our study of Matthew. Read Matthew 5:13 (out loud).

On Day 3, we talked about thinking Hebrew – which meant thinking in pictures or stories about experiences that made the meaning of the Bible more real. In verse 13, Jesus tries to explain to the disciples what their purpose is on earth. He does this by comparing them to an object that was an everyday item. Jesus says that they are the “salt of the earth.”

Salt in Jesus’ day was very valuable because it was essential to the survival of humans. As a result, ancient civilizations started to settle down beside rivers and water bodies where they could gather salt or locations where they could easily trade for salt. According to an article in India Today about the origin of the word “salary”, the word salary is derived from the word salt. “In ancient Rome, it was salt and not money that was used for commerce or trading. The soldiers who worked for the Roman Empire got a handful of salt in return for their payment each day. This is where the common saying of ‘being worth one’s salt’ comes from.”

Salt preserved meat and added to the taste of the food. It was also used in making a fire. So in comparing his disciples to salt, Jesus gave them a specific picture about what it meant to be a disciple of Christ.

First, He compared them to something that was valuable – something that was necessary for daily existence. Second, He told them that they were responsible for preserving the message of the Messiah in the world. Third, He implied that there is more to life than what the world sees. Following Christ adds to life just as salt adds to the flavor of food.

The fourth message is often missed in the Western world, because the use of salt in making fire in not as commonly known. During the first century, the people of Galilee used dome-shaped ovens made of hardened mud. A common fuel for cooking was camel or donkey dung, which would be collected and mixed with straw and salt. Then it would be formed into patties and left in the sun to dry. A slab of salt would be placed at the base of the oven and upon it the salted dung patty was placed. Salt has catalytic properties, which caused the dung to burn hotter and longer. I Kings 14:10 talks about burning dung (“as a man burns up dung until it is all gone”). Over time, however, the salt would lose the qualities that made the chemical reaction. So, when it was no longer fit even for being mixed with manure, the saltless salt was thrown out. The message for the disciples was that as believers, God calls us to “mix” with sinful people and yet keep our distinctive Christian identity. We are to cause a spiritual reaction in people that will make the Word of God burn hotter and longer within them.

This teaching on salt follows the beatitudes, which emphasizes living counter-culturally. In the time of Jesus, living counter-culturally was definitely being a catalyst. It sped up the process. It brought things to light. It forced conversations. It required making a choice – obeying God or culture.

Jesus sent His disciples into an evil world to live out the good news, and He warned them that sparks were going to fly! But He wanted them to know that they were valuable and necessary for preserving the message of the Messiah in the world, that there was more to life than what the world had to offer, and that they were to mix with the world and light His fire. He cautioned them not to lose their saltiness, because then they would be good for nothing and would be thrown out. They had to remain cautious and not lose their faith while mixing with the world.

The message is the same for you. You are valuable. You are necessary to keeping the message of Christ alive. There is more to life than what this world has to offer. Your purpose is to be the catalyst that helps activate the spiritual fire in others.

Are you mixing with the world in order to light His fire? How is your saltiness? Are you causing a spiritual reaction in others?


Ray Vander Laan – That the World May Know
JJ Pilch “Salt for the earthen oven revisited

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