13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”
Salt - the Hebrew symbol of the everlasting covenant between God and man. All sacrifices the Hebrew made – the firstfruits they presented to the Lord – were to be sprinkled with salt – grain, incense, and animal sacrifices alike carried with them the same savor. We discover in both Leviticus and Ezekiel:
13 Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings. Lev 2:13 (NIV)
23 When you have finished purifying it, you are to offer a young bull and a ram from the flock, both without defect. 24 You are to offer them before the LORD, and the priests are to sprinkle salt on them and sacrifice them as a burnt offering to the LORD. Ezek 43:23-24 (NIV)
In like fashion, the disciples were to be the firstfruits of the new covenant which the Lord Jesus came to usher in. Christ terms His guys “the salt of the earth” and rightly so. Interestingly, Hebrew newborns in ancient times were rubbed in salt to symbolize that they were children of the covenant. It is not too surprising that the disciples - being reborn into a new covenant – would be called “the salt of the earth”. We can count on our everlasting relationship with the Lord Jesus Who told us He would never leave us as orphans and that no one could snatch us out of His hand:
18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18 (NIV)
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28 (NIV)
In every age, as salt, Jesus’ disciples were and are to be cleansing, flavoring and preserving agents to a vast world which lies in an unsavory heap rotting. Disciples of the Lord, led and equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit are to take on the same characteristics as salt which are numerous. Salt is a necessity of life – every warm blooded animal has to have some level of salt just as very soul born has a God shaped vacuum within them yearning to be filled albeit most do not realize it is God alone who fully satisfies this emptiness within.
In the time of the original disciples, salt was scarce and precious. Roman soldiers were often paid part of their wages in salt – solarium – our word salary derives from this. The Good News the disciples would and do bring was and is highly valuable as well. Disciples carry this treasure in their jars of clay.
Salt also halts decay. Disciples are to be the preservative on earth to keep their society from raging rot. Because of this it is of ultimate importance that we do not blend with the world – that when the world looks upon us they see something different and that Something is Jesus Christ. Over and over again in Scripture God relents from sending judgment because of the righteous in the land. Believers are to be the preserving agents in our age as well – the voice that stands for the hard right against the easy wrong, the voice that speaks up for justice for the oppressed and the weak and helpless. We are to love mercy and our words are to be full of grace seasoned with salt.
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:15-17 (NIV)
Disciples are also to be a primary seasoning – appetizing for Christ sake. Are we winsome and wooing as He? Do our actions point others to Jesus or do they prevent others from tasting and seeing that the Lord is good?
Lastly, salt melts ice. Even the hardest hearts are not beyond Christ’s reach. Scripture states His “love never fails”.
Our Lord tells us here as well that flavorless salt-less salt is worthless salt. We must maintain our saltiness to be of use to our Lord and furthermore to ourselves. The best path for any human is God’s path though sadly we often kick against His best for us. His way is always the highest and most profitable but most often the hardest yet the easy way often ends in waste and unprofitability, being trampled upon by men – good for nothing. Jesus states there remains no remedy for tasteless salt.
“The true Christian cannot be hid, he cannot escape notice. A man truly living and functioning as a Christian will stand out. He will be like salt; he will be like a city set on a hill, a candle set upon a candlestick. But we can also add this further word. The true Christian does not even desire to hide his light. He sees how ridiculous it is to claim to be a Christian and yet deliberately to try to hide the fact. A man who truly realizes what it means to be a Christian, who realizes all that the grace of God has meant to him and done for him, and understands that, ultimately, God has done this in order that he may influence others, is a man who cannot conceal it. Not only that; he does not desire to conceal it, because he argues thus, ‘Ultimately the object and purpose of it all is that I might be functioning in this way’.” Martin Lloyd-Jones