Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Handout - Matthew Chapter 5 - Persecuted, Salt and Light

Matthew 5:11-12 - You Who Are Persecuted

Jesus takes a more personal approach from here on. It is not "those who ..." will be blessed, but now is is "you ..." will be blessed. Perhaps looking forward to the persecution that is coming on these disciples (Joh 15:18-21, Joh 16:1-4). Jesus was instructing them that unfair treatment was a blessing ("great is your reward in heaven") (2Co 4:17-18, 1Pe 2:20).

Matthew 5:13 - The Salt

The metaphors of Salt and Light illustrate the influence of good in the world. Salt has two purposes, that of flavoring food and that of preserving food. As a flavoring, the illustration is that of countering secularization and a humanistic worldview, but also it counters the idea of isolating ones self and removing ones self from society. Salt must be sprinkled on the food to be of use.

Salt as a preservative must be rubbed into the meat like a flavorful spice mixture is, so that it gets into it and it's preservative value can be realized. So it is with Christ followers, it is not enough to BE the salt of the earth, but to be of value we must influence society through active involvement and interaction with it. The salty Christian life is one that stands out and is attractive to the unsaved.

How are we to be preservatives to the world. It is not through politics and social justice programs that are doomed to failure, thus bringing reproach upon the name of Jesus. These attempts are nothing more than "weapons of the world" (2Co 10:3-4). Rather it is who we are as followers of Christ, "in Christ" that is the flavor and preservative. It is our higher moral and ethics, higher regard for human life and higher value systems that add flavor and preserve society. We are to demonstrate and work these values out in our life in front of others.

The statement "if the salt has lost it's saltiness ... It is no longer good for anything" implies that if we are not fulfilling this purpose we are useless in the work of the kingdom. This is not a loss of salvation statement, but has to do directly with the rewards we will receive in heaven at the Bema Judgment (1Co 3:11-15, 2Co 5:10).

Matthew 5:14-16 - The Light

In the Bible lands buildings were made out of white limestone. Those that were build on the tops of hills reflected the suns rays brightly, and even at night the reflection of the moon would be visible for miles. The term "a city on a hill" spoke of the ability of such cities to attract attention to themselves. Christians are to reflect this same character of light (Eph 5:8-9, Php 2:14-16).

The type of light being spoken of here is not that of a flashlight, illuminating things here and there, but rather that of a lamp, that illuminates an entire area. We show forth the manifest glory of God through our character. Our purpose is not to illuminate the successes or failures of individuals but rather to show what life in Christ is really about and provide a visible witness to the world. Testimonies are an example of a light shining forth. The goal is to show what life with God is like and to give God the glory.

You have the light of Christ in you, it should be shown outward. There is no use to having the light of Christ but hiding it away, not revealing it to the unsaved world around us. We may as well not turn the light on.

In vs. 16 we see that Matthew equated light with good deeds, the purpose of which is to "glorify your Father in heaven". Our good works are born out of our character, and show forth what is down inside of us, which is a transformed nature by the Holy Spirit (1Pe 2:12).

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