What is the Sermon on the Mount? I argue that it is the portrait of a disciple. It is the marching orders for followers of Jesus Christ. The Lord has already offered the invitation, “Come, follow me” and some have accepted. Those who accepted are given the title, “disciple.” In the Sermon on the Mount disciples are given crucial instructions. The disciples have gathered on the mountainside and Jesus lectures on Discipleship 101.
It is the greatest sermon ever preached. It comforted. It offended. It changed the world.
Let’s look at a piece of the sermon and see what happens.
“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 underfoot.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
There is a debate about the primary use of salt in the first century ancient near east. Here are a few options:
Yet, we don’t need to get bogged down in such a debate. What we really need to know: salt served a purpose. What do you do when salt can no longer serve its purpose? When it loses it saltiness? It is useless. It is no longer good for anything. You might as well chunk it out of the window. If people walk on it? No problem. For the salt is useless.
Jesus uses that idea to build to a powerful point. He next turns his attention to light.
Do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl? I hope not. Because that would be silly. It would defeat the purpose of lighting the lamp. If a light does not shine – it is worthless.
Jesus uses that idea to build to a powerful point. He next turns his attention to disciples.
Disciples are to be salt and light. What does that mean? They are to be on mission. They seek to influence others for the purpose that more and more may glorify our Father in heaven.
What if a disciple doesn’t do this? Following the train of thought of this passage – they are useless, worthless. Like salt that needs to be thrown out the window. Like a lamp under a bowl.