Jesus used three words as metaphors to make the point that we all have what it takes to build his Kingdom here on earth.
In first century Palestine Salt was used for many different things. Most people would use it to cure or heal meats of impurities and diseases. So they wouldn’t get sick. The religious leaders would throw old salt on the ground so that during the winter months it would melt the snow faster so no one got hurt when they came to the temple to make a sacrifice.
But, Salt was also used as money. It had an effect on society. It was the way society lived and survived. Money was important for survival. Jesus calls us all salt. He uses this metaphor to say that we can have an effect on our culture, history, society, churches, and families like money does. That we too can change the world. Salt was also used to flavor food. To stop it from being bland and to add something more to the dish. We all have it in us to add something to society to change it for the better. Salt was also expensive. It was high in value. Jesus is telling them that they are important to the Kingdom of God. We are the currency of God.
In the Old Testament times, the ancient Jews would have a lot of different traditions and practices. They would have these week long parties called festivals where they would celebrate their relationship with God, with each other and God. And one of their practices they had would be to take candles and lights and dance around with them in the temple. They were called the light of the world. And Jesus says that everyone, not just Jews back then, can be the light of the world. Jesus says you can be the light of the world. So what does light do? It spreads out everywhere. It lights things up. It brings hope. It brings peace. It brings love wherever it shines. We can do this. We can do this because Jesus has invited us to. Do you believe that today?
Jesus also says that He is the light of the world. And so if he says that we are the light of the world and then he says he is the light of the world, then what He is saying is that we all have what it takes to be just like Him. This is a very powerful message. Jesus was talking to an oppressed people. They were discouraged by Rome trying to control their every move and they had no freedom. For others it seemed like their society wouldn’t help them because they were different or because of their laws considered them “unclean”. Does anyone hear every feel that way? Jesus has a message of hope for you.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
We can have all the light that this world has to offer – knowledge, intelligence, or sunshine, but without God, we still will be in that darkness which sunshine cannot drive away. Jesus came into the world to bring us the knowledge of God. This is a light that we will not find by studying science or books. It is an enlightenment which reveals to us that there are other realms than just the physical world. Science can study the physical world and all about it, but science cannot study the light which comes from God. But it is this light which comes from God which makes us to be fully human.
The light which God created before there was a sun, which battles the darkness which overshadows the hearts and minds of mankind on the sunniest days, is given to us to give to others. For Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” (Matt 5:14) God does not withhold this light from us and say, “spend your whole life searching for that which is beyond your grasp.” Rather God not only brings us to the light, He allows us to become that light.
Maybe you are here today and think you have nothing to offer to Jesus. Maybe something happened to you as a child. Or yo had a bad experience in school. Or failed a test for a job or weren’t able to go to University, Jesus wants you to know that you have what it takes. And that he needs you to help change the world. He believes in you.
Then we meetup with a guy named Matthew. He didn’t think he had what it took either. He was a tax-collector. Now, try to imagine a tax-collector who randomly shows up on your doorstep for a routine surprise audit. All those feelings your feeling now would have been what most of the Jewish people would have felt plus a side-order of betrayal. Jewish tax-collectors were known as double-crossers. It would be like your best friend turning you in for something you didn’t do. The ultimate of all betrayers. They worked for enemy. Rome. They not only collected taxes from their own people, but they would also overcharge each person and whatever the difference was they would pocket it. And for the most part, the price was ludicrously outrageous. It actually helped in creating the homeless population. This was Matthew. A betrayer.
Then Jesus moves on to call them a “city on a hill”. This verse is a reference to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The temple sat on a hill. And you could see it anywhere in the city if you looked up. The temple represented God being present. It meant that God was with man. That God was there. So, when Jesus calls us a city on a hill he is basically saying we all have the ability to be representatives of God wherever we go. That we can be an example of God right now. That we can live our lives in such a way that will make others want to know more about God. By showing love to one another. Sharing peace. Sharing love.
To a people who lived in a society where they were told by the Roman government that they had no value, this was a life-changing message from Jesus. This would have also been life-changing for women and children and those that had diseases or were sick. Jesus is telling them all that He believes that all of them (men, women, children, diseased and the sick) have what it takes to build His Kingdom and change the world. May you know that God is in love with you. That he believes you have what it takes to build his Kingdom on earth. He wants you to know that you are valuable to Him, that is why He sent Jesus, because you are important to Him. So may you now go out and change the world.