Salt of the Earth // Light of the World | Matthew 5:13-16

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for
anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. (Matthew 5:13)

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a
basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so
that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)


Jesus opened His Sermon on the Mount with the bold proclamation of, “Blessed”! Using the word nine times, Christ uttered the Beatitudes, one of the most popular sections of Scripture. But popular does not equal understood. Though many have attempted to apply the Beatitudes to all sorts of situations, Jesus was speaking of His followers. Christians are the only ones truly blessed, favored and loved by God. Thus, the characteristics and rewards of the Beatitudes are also Christian exclusives. As citizens of the God’s kingdom, we are called to different values than the world around us. While they urge us to take pride in self, Christ says the poor in spirit are blessed. They cry for power and strength, but Jesus says, “blessed are the meek.” Christ indeed proclaimed an upside-down kingdom.

We now move to the next section of Christ’s sermon, which is similarly well-known. Here Jesus declares that His followers are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Both are powerful metaphors for how Christians ought to visibly display Jesus to the world. Salt was crucial to the ancient world, not just for flavor, but as a preservative as well. Without refrigerators, salt was the primary means of keeping meats from rotting. Of course, light holds the same importance for us today as it did for the those in Christ’s day. Despite any good we see in the world, Jesus saw it as rotting meat, lost in utter darkness. And His solution to that hopelessness is to use us as salt and light.

It is also important that we understand this text as a piece of Jesus’ sermon. The Sermon on the Mount is not a loosely held together collection of Jesus’ best sayings; rather, it has a purpose and a structure. Each section of the sermon should flow from and lead to the others. With this in mind, we should ask the question: how are we to be the salt of the earth and light of the world? What does it look like to be salt and light? The answer is found in last week’s text, the Beatitudes. When our lives display the upside-down characteristics of the Beatitudes, we will then be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Read verse 13 and discuss the following.

1. What does it mean for us to be the salt of the earth?
2. Christ warns against salt losing its saltiness. Does this mean that Christ is saying that a Christian can lose
his or her salvation?

Read verses 14-16 and discuss the following.

3. What does it mean for us to be the light of the world?
4. As followers of Christ, how are we to let our light shine before others?


  • Obey. Consider Jesus’ statement that you are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Only the
    blessed ones from the Beatitudes are able to be salt and light here. Does your life display the characteris-
    tics of the kingdom of heaven?
  • Pray. Come to God for grace to continue being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Pray for
    opportunities to bring God’s light into the darkness around us and to be salt where sin would otherwise

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