St. Matthew 5:13-20
February 9, 2014
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Matthew’s gospel account the fifth chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
A. You are Salt and Light
The Savior places His name on us. We are what He says. As surely as He is Christ so also are we His Christians. For His Word does what He says. He names us with His Name and we are called sons of God. His Spirit dwells within us. His Father is our Father and we cry our Abba Father because we bear the Mark of His Name on our hearts and our foreheads. It is His gift to us. To be baptized is to be His, to bear His Name and His Cross, to live under Him in His kingdom and to serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness. To bear His Name is to bear His life. For we have this treasure in jars of clay and are always being given over into death for Jesus’ sake that the life of Jesus is made manifest in our mortal flesh. Thus, to be called Christian is receive Christ both here on earth – which involves suffering, affliction and persecution from the world, as well as in Heaven – which entails the glories and accolades of the Father who loves His Son.
This morning Jesus continues His sermon on the Mount, versing us with His Word, forming us through His voice, making us as He desires us to be in the world. “You,” He says. “You are the salt of the Earth.” “You are the light of the world.” You, dear Christians, named with the savior’s name, are salt and light, not in and of yourselves, but because you are Christ’s disciple, because you have received His Name. Disciples of Jesus are salt and light. Believers in Jesus are salt and light.
Now, salt is for corruption and light is for darkness. Sin brings decay and thus corruption and death. Salt is for preservation. Salt seasons with resurrected life. The wages of sin is death and death’s darkness surround us, surrounds all. The light of Christ shines in the darkness and the darkness has not understood it. The Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. The Light scatters the darkness and the salt gives taste to the tasteless. You, dear Christians are salt and you are light. You are salt for the preservation and the salvation of the world. You are the light surrounded by the darkness of death. Jesus says this of you, not because of you. You are these because of Him to whom you belong.
B. Hidden and Trampled
Jesus says that salt is not to lose its saltiness and light is not be hidden. Christians are not to be silent, neither are you to hide in the shadows nor sit in the seat of the wicked. For, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” Such walking, standing, and sitting is unwise, foolish, stupid! Such folly is of the devil and those who do not believe, those who do not share in the Name of Christ. Christ shines the light of His Word on our foolishness this morning, that as His disciples we may be and may remain salt and light in this world.
The tasks of salting and lighting the world are great and many. As we Christians oppose and overcome the stench of this world’s decay all around us so we must also oppose and drive out that which is false, dark, and corrupt in us first. The call to repent begins with the house of God and the people of God. As the Apostle inquires, “shall we continue in sin that Grace may abound! Shall we live as though God’s law has nothing to say to our lives? Shall we ignore the log in our eye as we fuss and fret about the speck in our neighbors? No. No! NO! Paul says, but you have been baptized into Christ’s death. You have been set free from sin. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies. In other words, don’t let what God calls sin be redefined by you or anyone else so that your sin is ignored, or worse yet, accepted as something good before God. Don’t you try to justify your sin. That’s not your work. To be justified is Christ’s work for you.
You are Salt and you are Light. Repentance begins with you as the Lord’s own people. And then, as salt and light, you are to be such also in our world. And there is much to be salted and many to be enlightened in our world. The hearts of men are dark. Their minds have been corrupted with empty philosophy and vain deceit. Their confusion abounds in their chaotic lives. For the world has no use for the salt and light of Christians. The world covets sweet girls and dark men. But in their confusion they have begotten effeminate men and masculine women. Gender is irrelevant and according to many culturally defined. Our post-modern world knows nothing for certain and their ignorance goes the depth of their very identity. They do not know who they are. Their sin has become their identity! In their rebellion against God He has handed them over to the lusts of their hearts and the depravity of their minds to the dishonoring of their bodies amongst themselves.
In such a world as this you who are salt and light are unwanted. You are not sweet enough. You are not dark enough. Your salt burns their wounded hearts and your Light shines on the dark deeds they have done. These are not mere strangers refusing our words and our love, these are our family, our friends, our co-workers, neighbors, people we have coffee with, people whose children we see playing in the neighborhood. These are people who share with us a common life. And these, whom we know and love, would have you lose your saltiness, keep Jesus to yourself, keep your religion private. These, would have you hide your light under a bushel. Darken your life, join them for a while, walk with them, stand with them, sit with them, even bless them. Surely we Christians would never endorse such a perverse lifestyle, surely we would never bless sodomy. Good heavens, no way! But what about those living together before marriage? What about those divorcing their husbands or their wives? What about those abandoning their children? What about those sleeping around? Shall we call good what God calls evil? Shall we bless what God has cursed? Shall we continue in sin, allow our loved ones to continue in sin, so that grace may abound! NO! NO! NO!
C. I have come to fulfill the Law
Beloved, God’s Word is not ours to surrender. God’s righteous and holy Law is not ours to compromise, change or ignore. The Savior speaks truth to life and that life is for you, for me and for those lost in the darkness, those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death. Where there is no truth, there is no life, and thus no salt or light. Thus Jesus has not come to destroy the Law and the prophets. He has come to fulfill both the law and the prophets. Not one jot or iota of the Law is set aside not even for Him. In Christ Jesus God is both just, punishing sin and justifier, making things right. We fall short of His Law, thus we fall short of His righteousness. All have sinned and turned astray, everyone has gone his own way, you, me, the guy down the road and the girl walking the streets. All, that is, except Christ. He has gone the way of righteousness for you and me, the guy down the road and the girl walking the street. That Jesus is “for you” means that Jesus fulfills the law for you. His righteousness is for you. His life is for you. His suffering is for you. His cross is for you. His passion is for you. His blood is for you. His stripes are for you. His cries of mercy are for you. His sighing is for you. His dying is for you. His burial is for you. His rising on the third day is for you. He is for you! The God of creation, the God of righteousness, the God of all that is good and right and holy is for you, and me, the guy down the road and the girl walking the street! He’s for the couple living together in sin and He’s for the mother making her way to planned parenthood. He is the one who deals with sin. He is the one who justifies sinners. He is for you, not against. If Jesus is for you, then who shall be against you? “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It isChrist who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:32-35).
No, beloved, there is nothing to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. There is none to condemn, the Law’s requirements have been fulfilled. There is none to fear, God’s wrath has been poured out on the cross! There is none to flee, none before whom we should be silent, none before whom we ought to cower. Christ is for us! Of this we can be certain. We ahve His cross. We bear His Name! We cling to His promises. We are forgiven on account of His blood. We are salted with His righteousness and we are enlightened by His Holy Spirit. We have His Word. We have His promises. What Jesus speaks comes to pass. His Word and His sacrament are our surety, our certainty, our hope and our salvation, not only for us, but also for the whole world who are called to believe this! This is the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. And we are not to lose our saltiness nor are we to hide our lights. We are not to be ashamed of the Gospel of God for it is the power of God unto salvation, to the Jew first and then also the gentiles!
B’. Christ to the World
And so, dear Christians, as you bear His Name in your baptism so bear His cross and His passion to the world. Be penitent! Cling to Christ by faith. Let the world of Christ dwell in you richly. Grow and mature in the word. Read, learn, mark and inwardly digest the Word of Christ. Meditate on it. Set your mind upon it. Pray the word. Bathe yourself with the Word. Believe the Word. . . . Then teach the word to your husband and your wife, to your children and your neighbors, to your friends and yes even those who oppose you. Let the world see and hear the joy of a life lived in Christ, a life lived without doubts about who we are, who God has made us to be as men and women recreated in the image of His Son. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your heavenly Father. For blessed is he “whose delight is in the law of the Lord. On it He meditates day and night.” We Christians are to be about Jesus. Being about Jesus you will be about His Word and His deeds. You say what He says. You say it faithfully. You do what He does. You do it in season and out, when it feels good and when it doesn’t. Thus you are and will be the reflection of Christ to the nations. You are and will be God’s saving agents in the world of rioting and rebellion. You dear Christian are the voice of Christ to unbelievers. You are the arms of Christ to the downtrodden. You are the hands of Christ to the poor. You are the heart of Christ to the heartless.
Yes, you will suffer. Yes, you will be rejected. Yes, you will be persecuted. You will be hated by men. You will be renounced, betrayed, treated shamefully. You will be as Christ was in the world. Rejoice! For in like manner they treated those who went before you. Rejoice, as Christ was received in the world so too will they receive you. Rejoice, for as Christ was received to His Father’s right hand, so too will you who believe in Him be received into eternal glory!
A’. You are Salt and Light
Beloved in the Lord . . . dear Christian, the Savior has spoken His Word over you this morning. What He says . . . is. You bear His Name. You share His cross. You are salt and you are light. You are not your own but you are His . . . bought and purchased by His blood. Fix your heart on Him and be not dismayed when the world embraces hell. Cast your eyes to the cross. Be hearing His Word. Be feasting on the supper. Rejoice that the Savior has spoken such great and grand words of you whom He loves. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!