Sunday 06 February 2011

Bible Book:

"Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." (v. 16)

Matthew 5:13-20 Sunday 6 February 2011


The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) make a beautifully poetic andyet challenging start to the Sermon on the Mount (the first blockof Jesus' teaching in Matthew's Gospel). Now Jesus turns to moretangible elements that all his listeners would be very familiarwith, salt, light and the law.

Salt was an essential commodity, not only giving flavour to food,but more importantly acting as a preservative, in a hot climatekeeping food fresher for longer. But it may also be that Jesus wasusing salt as a metaphor for wisdom, with the phrase "lost itstaste" (verse 13) suggesting the possibility of wisdom beingreplaced by foolishness. Jesus says to his disciples that it isthey, not the religious officials, who are truly wise.

Similarly it is the disciples who have the true light, somethingthat Jesus could see and knew that others would see and follow.Jerusalem, a city on a hill, was regarded as a light to theGentiles (non-Jews). Similarly the disciples would one day bewitnesses of the glory of God to people far beyond the mount onwhich they now sat.

We often consider Jesus to have had little respect for thereligious law. After all, this is what repeatedly got him in toconflict with the religious leaders of the day, and in the end ledhim to be condemned and crucified as a law-breaker. In additionmuch of Paul's theological argument in his letters centres on hisbelief that "Christ is the end of the law" (Romans10:4). And yet in this passage from Matthew's Gospel, Jesussays his intent is to fulfil the law, not abolish it (verse 17).For Jesus, as for any Jew, God's law was important, but for himfulfilling the law did not mean following petty rules andregulations: it meant justice, mercy and above all, love. This thenwould be something that would truly be salt with full flavour and alight for all to follow.

To Ponder

How do you ensure the salt of your faith doesn'tlose its taste?

Is your love of God visible to others around you?What stops your light shining? And what might you do make it shinebrighter?

How can we stop the rules and regulations thatgovern our churches getting in the way of us living by the true lawof God?

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