Pastors, Bible Study Leaders, Educators:
Would you give me a few minutes of your reading time?
Briefly explore a sample lesson of a new Christ-centered, Bible study, The Life of Christ. This 54 week study will enrich the spiritual life of your congregation. It offers a wide variety of great resources and visual aids from the Internet. Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration.
Blessings to you this day.
Ed Markquart, Author of this website.
View sample lessons
You are the Salt of the Earth
to you and peace from God our Father
from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
is one of the grand worship events in the life of the church.
For the past seventeen hundred years Christians have been
coming on Ash Wednesday to begin their walk to Good Friday.
For seventeen hundred years Christians have gathered together
to focus on Christ, and asked the question: “What does it means to
be disciples of Christ, to be people of the Cross.” We here at
Grace Lutheran are part of that long processional of seventeen
in the tradition of Lent here at Grace Lutheran Church we have
always done a series
for Lent – we have chosen a series that we think would be
interesting and developed that throughout the season of Lent.
So for this year we have chosen a series on the Sermon of the
Mount. The Sermon on
the Mount is found in Matthew 5, 6 and 7.
is this important. The
Sermon on the Mount are all of the teachings of Jesus kind of all
pulled into one
section.. If you were
to go through all of the gospels and collect all of the important
teachings of Jesus and pulled them together into one section –
that is what we have here. The Sermon on the Mount.
And also, this is the oldest layer of the gospel, and in the
oldest layer here we find more Aramaisms than any place else.
That indicates Jesus’ original language and indicates a
very old section of the gospel.
So here we are going through the Sermon on the Mount
- a very significant part of the Scriptures – Jesus’
primary teachings all rolled into one section.
in this oldest section of the gospel – these primary teachings of
Jesus – Jesus gives us his fundamental moral law for what it means
to be a New Testament Christian.
for the Jews in the Old Testament, what their guideline? What was
their guideline for the Jews in the Old Testament?
The Ten Commandments – that was their moral guide. But in
the New Testament, the Ten Commandments are no longer the moral
guide. Instead, there
is a new moral guide – the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus and the
Sermon on the Mount are the new moral guide for Christians.
interesting thing is that this section – the Sermon on the Mount -
is not about doctrinal issues as important as doctrinal issues are.
Rather, the Sermon on the Mount is
life. It is about the important things of life – about everyday
struggles that we all go through – things like anger and
sexuality, revenge, prayer, money, anxiety, clothes, judging others.
It is all about this “gut level” kind of stuff.
Things all of us face as Christians.
of us. Children, youth, young adults, middle aged, older people.
Jesus is addressing all of us when he says, “You, you, you” and in Greek the accent is on the word
You – You, you are the
– and me. You are the
salt of the earth. You,
you and you.
that mean everybody?
not everyone That is,
we are very keenly aware that not
everyone who says that they are a Christian
is a Christian. Rather those people who are truly committed about being a
disciple of Jesus. Who
are serious about Jesus Christ.
crowds were left
down in the lake. Jesus
took his true
disciples up onto the hillside and to his true
disciples, to those people who were truly serious about Jesus, Jesus
said, “You, you and you, you are the salt of the earth.”
if the salt loses its saltiness, of what value is it?
What is it worth? Matthew
was very clear. He says
that salt that loses its saltiness is no good for anything except to
be sprinkled on the pathway (John takes out a salt shaker and shakes
it on the floor and John and Ed trample on that salt as a visual
aid.) and trampled underfoot. But I like what Luke says about salt
that loses its saltiness. Luke says – his words are stronger –
Luke says the salt that has lost its saltiness is so worthless that
the only thing it is good for is
to be thrown on to the dung heap.
to the dung heap?
to the dung heap! So
basically, what Jesus is saying is that salt that has lost its
saltiness ain’t worth doodoo.
of you kids who are taking notes on the sermon tonight, here is the
title for the sermon. The
title for the sermon tonight is,
John and Ed together
is spelled d-o-o-d-o-o. The text for tonight’s sermon is Matthew
it is important for us to hear what the Bible thinks about salt.
For you and me, salt is a part of our everyday life, and salt
was also very important in Biblical times. But they used salt in
different ways in Biblical times. For instance, did they have
refrigerators during those days? No. Big walk-in coolers? No.
Ice-making machines? In
was no electricity, no refrigeration, no coolers. Therefore, what
did they need? They
needed salt. They would
take salt and put it on the fish in order to preserve the fish and
other food for the winter season.
You absolutely had to have salt if you were going to have
food for winter. Salt
was very valuable.
image that was very important is that salt was understood by the
Greeks to be one of the purest of substances.
It was one of the purest of substances because it came from
two of the most pure of places then.
It came from the sun and the sea. And so salt was seen as
pure – the white glistening nature of salt reminded people of
purity. A pure
substance. That is an important image to understand when you talk about
was incredibly valuable. They said that a man’s life was worth a
bag of salt.
said that salt was like gold. In fact you paid people salt for their work. In fact, the
Latin word for salt and the Latin word for salary are the same word.
Do you understand that? That the Latin word for salt and the
Latin word for salary are the same word.
We will pay you your salt.
We pay you your salary for a days wage.
So when Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth”,
Jesus was paying you the highest of compliments.
because salt was so valuable in biblical times, one of the things
merchants would do to cheat their people and make a little extra
money, was they would take the salt, the pure form of salt, and they
would dilute it by mixing it with something that looked like salt,
such as white sand. And
so when someone was buying salt, they thought they were getting pure
salt. When they got home they would find out that it has lost
its saltiness. It wasn’t salty because it had been diluted so much
with white sand.
that is what this text is all about.
Jesus was aware that disciples would cheat, dilute, water
down, and weaken their discipleship, where they would put white sand
into the salt and make it absolutely worthless.
what does this mean? What
does this mean for us that, we are supposed to be the salt of the
earth? What does this
is a moral preservative. But Jesus said, “You – you – you – YOU are the salt
of the earth.” What
Jesus means by that is that we are to preserve moral goodness.
We are to be the preservers of goodness and justice and
kindness, and decency - the fundamental moral values.
You are to be a preserver of moral values in your home, your
school, your neighborhood. And
without that preservation of moral values, a society becomes rotten.
It begins to stink. It begins to decay.
Without salt, a society starts to smell and acts rotten. I
feel that many aspects of our society seem rotten to the core.
know, for me, something that really troubles me recently
– I looks around
and a person really has to have their head buried in the sand to not
see what is happening all around us in the world today. The moral
decay is absolutely incredible and you would have to be blind not to
see it. I mean it is
all around. For
Violence on TV, in the movies, on the news. Violence is everywhere.
The surgeon general of the U.S.A. said that we have a national
epidemic in our addiction to violence in our nation.
pregnancy is a still a horrendous problem. TV pornography.
Aids has become the pandemic of the world, worse than the Bubonic
plagues in the Middle Ages, killing hundreds of millions of people.
How is it primarily spread? Illicit sex.
You can’t walk in your school hallways without hearing four letter
obscenities all around you.
etc in confirmation. The list goes on and on.
in Jesus’ real world and in our real world
today, we need salt, Jesus
needs salty Christians. Jesus
needs the kind of Christians who are going to be a moral
will preserve the fundamental moral value of goodness and justice
needs salty Christians.
I think everybody would agree with that.
Specifically, what does that mean for me personally?
I want to be the salt of the earth, like Jesus said. What
does that mean to me personally?
think what that means is to lead a moral life – to lead a moral
life. Also..to speak up
for moral values and to speak against those immoral values which you
know are not good and just. There
are times in life when it is wise to be silent, but there are also
times in life that it is important to speak out on moral issues.
There at times in life where we need to speak out about it.
it seems to me that if you are hanging out with some people and they
are using Christ’s name in a way that really bothers you, or is
offensive to you, you are to say something about it. Just say,
“You know Jesus is an important
person to me and the way you are using God’s name, really
bothers me.” We are to speak out about that.
when and if you do that, John, do you think others will say, ”Oh,
thanks for telling me that, and I am so glad you brought that up.”
am afraid that it will be a little tougher than that.
because we know that the very heart of salt is to be sharp.
There is a sharp taste to salt and when you speak like that
you know that there is going to be negative consequences.
You know that people are going to pick on you and
that’s what it means to be a salty Christian. There is a
sharpness in being a salty Christian.
let’s talk abut another one – let’s talk about cheating.
What are your experiences on cheating?
seems to me that if you are in a situation like that, and you see
someone cheating, it may not be appropriate to bring it up at that
time in a public setting. But one should go to that person privately
and say, “That is just not right. Cheating is not right. It is
unfair to the rest of the class.”
you say that to your friends, do they say, “O thanks. Thanks for
telling me that.” Absolutely not. Nobody is going to like you for
doing those kinds of things and saying those kinds of words.
When you are honest and stand up for those things which are
right, when you are a salty Christian, people are not going to say,
“What a great guy you are.” Rather, there is ridicule,
persecution, people make fun of you for being so religious and self
righteous. How about changing sexual values in our society, John?
think that many, many people struggle with in our society. Certainly
young people in high school struggle with those kinds of pressures.
And young adults. There are lots of pressures in our society when it
comes to sexuality and what is right and good.
cuts across all segments of our society. People living outside of
sexual boundaries. Paying the penalty for that. Paying the enormous
painful consequences for that. Pretending that it is not going to
hurt them and other people. So, what does it mean to be a salty
Christian when it comes to sexual values?
is one of the toughest area of life. How to speak to someone about
living an immoral life sexually? You say, “Hey, don’t you
realize what you are doing?” We need to talk to those people and
be bold about that.
you do that, do those people say, “Thanks for the good advice.
Thanks for talking to me about this.” No, absolutely not. Any time
you speak the will of God and are a salty Christian, people are not
necessarily going to like that because the very essence of salt is
that there is a sharpness to it. We know within our relationships
with our family members and friends, there are times when it is wise
to keep one’s mouth shut about moral improprieties and let one’s
example speak. But there are also those moments when the time is
right and we attempt to speak God’s moral word to our family
member or friend.
what are the consequences? Let’s say that you think to yourself,
“I want to be a salty Christian.” Jesus wants us to be salty
Christians. We know that. Those of us who are serious about Christ
want to be salty Christians. So what are the consequences of that?
get accused of all kinds of things. You hear accusations such as
are being judgmental.”
are so self righteous.”
You are nothing but a hypocrite.”
are nothing but a do gooder.”
your own business”
just a goodie two shoes.”
do what I want.”
business is my business, and your business is your business.” And
so we find all kinds of consequences when we are salty Christians.
We all expect that kind of ridicule. Jesus said, “When you are a
disciple of mine, a salty Christian, you expect to be ridiculed for
taking a stand for Jesus Christ.”
you are with a group of your friends and your peers and you know
that they are about to do something wrong and you don’t feel good
about, do you have the guts to stand up to that group of your
friends, “This is wrong and I am not going to be any part of
it.” How many of you have the guts to stand up to your group of
friends and make this statement, “This is wrong and I am not going
to do it.” That is tough.
that is what Jesus wants us to do. John, I have this favorite
quotation from Martin Luther. It is not about teenagers but about
preachers. Luther says, “A preacher loses his salt. It happens
when preachers no longer tell people the truth and show them their
misery and their sinfulness nor do they press for genuine
repentance. Bishops and successful preachers are the smartest of
people. They preach in a lovely manner, calculated to keep
themselves out of trouble, calculated to say things in such a way is
that they will be paid a big salary, prosperity, honor and power by
refusing to tell the truth, by refusing to salt the people.” When
I read that about Martin Luther and what he said about preachers, I
never wanted to that said about you are me, that we had lost our
took his disciples, those people who were truly committed, up to the
mountainside. Jesus sat his true disciples down. Jesus looked at
them and paid them the highest compliment when he said to them,
“You…..you…..you….. you…..you…..You are the salt of the
if the salt has lost its flavor.
John and Ed
ain’t worth doodoo. Amen.