THE SALT OF THE EARTH
Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and trodden under foot of men. (See Mark 9:50 and Luke 14:34-35).
Jesus went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him, and He opened His mouth and taught them (Mat. 5:1b-2a) many things, including the parable found in the lesson text. To the disciples gathered to hear Christ deliver His "Sermon on the Mount," he told them ye are the salt of the earth, and in doing so, He also gave us the same message. The lesson drawn from this parable is that all disciples of Christ, whether they are preachers, teachers, elders, deacons, or simply members of the body of Christ, are to demonstrate in their lives the symbolic qualities found in salt.
Salt serves many purposes. It has a mineral content that is physically needed, in the proper quantities, by people as well as most animals. When used on food and in its preparation, it gives a more pleasant and palatable flavor. Salt also has a preserving quality. It keeps certain foods from spoiling and allowing them to be kept for a much longer period of time. According to many Old Testament references, salt was essential in many of the sacrificial services of the Jewish nation. With these many uses, salt has always been an item having great demand. It was very plentiful in the area of Palestine. There were high concentrations of salt in and around the Dead Sea sufficient for the needs of its inhabitants as well as a commodity traded with other countries in the general geographical area. It was in such demand that it was often used as a substitute for money. Laborers and soldiers often receiving a portion of their wages in salt.
The disciples of Christ were the salt of the earth. In this context, the word "earth" is not to be understood as the planet Earth. Neither is it the dirt or soil that makes up much of its surface. It is used here to designate the inhabitants of the earth - the people that make up the world. In what ways can a Christian demonstrate the qualities of salt to the world? The world is filled with evil, fear, and distrust. There is much disagreement and unpleasantness. Into this world the Christian brings, in word and by example, purity, kindness, love, benevolence, hope, and other godly characteristics that are more palatable and more flavorful to mankind. In a sense, Christians give the world a "taste better." The world needs Christianity to counter and contain the moral corruption that prevails. If presented in a harsh, overbearing manner, the word of God will not be receptive to the people of the world. Paul captured this thought in his letter to the Colossians. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Col. 4:6). Wherever the word of God is preached and accepted, peaceful conditions can be found. It is in this manner that Christians can be described as the salt of the earth.
Salt has a saving power. Properly applied to certain foods, salt prevents its natural decomposition allowing it to be kept, or saved, for future use. This is especially true with all types of meats that are preserved through the salt-curing process. Christians, as the salt of the earth, are able to cure, or preserve, people of the world from moral decay. Without good Christian "salt", the world suffers spiritual and moral deterioration - the world becomes lost in sin. Such would be the case if the salt have lost its savor, the disciple would cease to have the soul-saving influence that is greatly needed so much in the world.
Christians know that we are saved by hope (Rom. 8:24a). Not only are Christians the salt of the earth, but their message is likewise referred to as "salt". This is the "salt" offered to the world - the hope of salvation. At some time in their lives, most people will ask the question similar to that of the keeper of the prison in which Paul and Silas were placed in bonds - what must I do to be saved? Paul and Silas offered the "salt" that saves when they replied, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house (Acts 16:30-31). We know the "salt", found in this message, saved the jailer and his household because they were baptized into the body of Christ the same hour of the night (Vs. 33).
Mark, in his gospel, tells us the complete meaning of this parable.This is what Jesus told His apostles, and by example, told each Christian thereafter, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:15-16). Christians bringing this message to the world are surely the Salt of the Earth.