Lesson 66—May 17, 2015
Audio Commentary by David Daniel
If Only We had Joined Hands Sooner
Scripture: Matthew 5:13-14
Lesson Goal: To be confronted with the truth that, as a true believer, I have a responsibility to be “salt and light” in my world.
“If salt loses its flavor (its ability to be distinct), how can its saltiness be restored? There is no way to restore the taste, natural taste. Once it has lost its flavor, salt is good for nothing. It is discarded on a footpath (in Jesus’ day)” (MacDonald).
Albert Barnes, commenting on this passage from Matthew, writes:
The salt used in this country is a chemical compound—and if the saltiness were lost, or it were to
lose its savor, there would be nothing remaining. In Eastern countries, however, the salt was impure, mingled with substances, so that it might lose the whole of its saltiness, and a considerable quantity of salt without flavor remain. This was good for nothing except that it was used, as it is said, to place in paths or walks, as we use gravel.
I’m sure that as you have studied, you learned some of the valuable qualities of salt. Its functions are numerous. Many of these uses are somewhat familiar to us, such as: it is a preservative, it adds flavor, and it creates thirst. All these uses of salt were beneficial, but most of us in today’s world do not understand or appreciate the true value of salt.
Salt has always been valuable in human society, often much more so than it is today. During a period of ancient Greek history, it was called “theon,” which means divine. The Romans held that, except for the sun, nothing was more valuable than salt. Often Roman soldiers were paid in salt, and it was from that practice that the expression “not worth his salt” originated. In many ancient societies, salt was used as a mark of friendship. For two persons to share salt indicated a mutual responsibility to look after one another’s welfare. Even if a worst enemy ate salt with you, you were obligated to treat him as a friend. Salt was frequently used in the ancient Near East to bind a covenant, somewhat in the way an agreement or contract is notarized in our day. >>>>>>
When the parties to a covenant ate salt together before witnesses, the covenant was given special authorization (MacArthur). Please read 2 Chronicles 13:5.
One important point of emphasis concerning salt is that no matter the background of Jesus’ hearers, no matter Roman, Greek or Jew, all would have understood the value of salt to their lives. No matter the level of understanding of Jesus’ words, all would recognize that when Jesus spoke of “salt” he was speaking about something very important and valuable.
As true believers, we must remember that we are in the world but not of this world. We are to show forth the character of a follower of Jesus Christ by living out the truth of Matthew 5:3-12. As we genuinely do this, we must always remember that the world will not welcome our influence. It fact, the world will find us (true believers) offensive, just as it found Jesus offensive. Please read John 15:18-19 and 17:13-19.
By the true believer’s godly character being lived out daily in the world, we also understand that “salt” brings a sting when applied to a wound. Living a godly life, living out the truths of verses 3-12, many times will bring a sting of conviction into the hearts of the lost. Often, as the result of a godly believer living a life pleasing unto God, the lost have felt the sting of conviction; thus, the world does not welcome the testimony of the redeemed (true believers). It irritates the world which has been wounded by sin and the effects of sin. When the salt of a true believer touches the wounds of sin, it stings the worldly. Living out the gospel, as salt of the earth, will not bring a feeling of comfort to the world. Instead it will bring the sting of conviction. Truly, a gospel that does not confront sin and bring the sting of conviction is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.
(V14) “You are the light of the world.”
“You” is the disciples of Jesus, true followers, true believers. As true believers we are called to be salt and light. The “you” in verses 13 and 15 is plural. Individually, as true believers, we should be “salt” and “light” to our worlds, but as we individually become salt and light, we collectively become salt and light. Each individual grain of salt has a limited influence, but the grains of salt working together collectively have a much more far-reaching influence. Salt and light become much greater and accomplish much more when working with others of its nature. One ray of light may accomplish a little, but when joined with other rays, a great light is created. One grain of salt may be limited in its individual influence, but when joined with other grains of salt, its influence is far greater.
• What does the “you” of verses 13 and 14 say to us as individual followers of Jesus Christ?
• What does the “you” of verses 13 and 14 say to us collectively as Mars Hill Baptist Church?
“Some years ago, a magazine carried a series of pictures that graphically depicted a tragic story. The first picture was of a vast wheat field in western Kansas. The second showed a distressed mother sitting in a farmhouse in the center of a wheat field. The accompanying story explained that, when she was not looking, her four-year-old son had wandered away from the house and into the field. The mother and father looked and looked all day, but the little fellow was too short to see, or be seen, over the wheat. The third picture showed dozens of friends and neighbors who had heard of the boy’s plight and had joined hands the next morning to make a long human chain as they walked through the field searching. The final picture was of the heartbroken father holding his lifeless son who had been found too late and died of exposure. The caption underneath read: “O GOD, IF ONLY WE HAD JOINED HANDS SOONER” (MacArthur).
My dear Life Focus classes, let us always be conscious of the fact that the world is filled with lost family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, teammates, club members who are in need of help. They need to know about the love and saving power of Jesus Christ. They need to see, feel and know that there are those (true believers) who have been truly transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. In order for them to see, we must become “salt and light” in the world.
• How can you, as a true believer, be salt in your community? At the ballpark? At the gym? At the restaurant?
Let us remember that we can never be “salt to the earth” and “light of the world” if we isolate ourselves from it.
• How can we make a difference in our world without becoming part of the world?
• Which should Mars Hill Baptist Church be? Answer prayerfully.
1) A salt factory/refinery
2) A salt warehouse
It is much easier for all the salt to just clump together in a neat comfortable container. It may rock our world, but the New Testament does not tell the lost to go to the church; the New Testament commands the church to go to the lost!