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Join us for Divine Service each Sunday morning at 10:00am

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

February 9, 2020 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Epiphany

Passage: Matthew 5:13–5:20

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Matthew 5:13-20
Date: February 9th, 2020; Epiphany 5; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • In our Gospel reading we heard Jesus say that his people are the salt of the earth. 
  • We who are baptized believers, disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ - are the salt of the earth.
  • Salt is not only useful, but is essential for life.
  • Our bodies need salt to live and function properly.  
  • It preserves, and flavours, and cleanses.
  • We are salt - scattered as Jesus’ priesthood throughout the earth, seasoning our little corner of it by the death and resurrection of Jesus - which is what makes you salty. 
  • Lose that, and we lose our saltiness.
  • Lose the Gospel, the death and resurrection of Jesus for the justification of the sinner, and you are left with nothing more than bland religion. No salt.
  • This is what Paul focused on, as we heard in our epistle lesson.  
  • Paul knew what his audience wanted - the Jews wanted miraculous signs and the Greeks wanted impressive rhetoric and wisdom.
  • But Paul delivered neither.  
  • He instead focused on what sets the Christian faith apart from all others, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 
  • Paul’s speech was salty.  
  • But it wasn’t very impressive.  
  • He shares that it was done in weakness and in fear with much trembling – hardly the picture of the impressive orator who captivates his audience.
  • Paul was an educated man, well-schooled and learned. 
  • He could have dazzled the Greeks with his knowledge of philosophy and his brilliant rhetoric. 
  • But instead, he preached Christ crucified - a scandal to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. 
  • Why?  
  • Well, he explains, “that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 
  • Salt should never take over from the main dish.
  • Dear friends, are you salty?  Are you salty enough?  How do you know if you are salty enough?  
  • What does it mean when we say that someone is the “salt of the earth?”
  • Well, normally we mean that they are a good person.  They are kind and compassionate and caring.  They never say anything bad about anyone.  They help people and build them up and they always have a smile on their face.  
  • When we say that someone is the salt of the earth, we mean that they are good person who does good works.
  • Does this describe you? 
  • How can you tell?  How can you tell if you have done enough to be salty?
  • I suspect that if we compare our saltiness to some of the people we see on the news we will find that we are quite salty.  We don’t steal and assault and murder like they do. 
  • Maybe you have been good enough to be saved from being trampled underfoot after all!  
  • But, there is another warning from Jesus at the end of our gospel reading that we should also consider.
  • He says, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” 
  • That doesn’t sound good, does it?  I guess we can’t compare our saltiness to those around us, but instead we need to compare it to that of the scribes and Pharisees.  
  • In fact, even their saltiness, their righteousness, wasn’t enough because Jesus says that we must exceed it.
  • Then there are those other Bible passages that tell us that we can never make ourselves salty enough to enter the kingdom of heaven.  
  • We read in Isaiah chapter 64, “All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.”  
  • We read in Romans chapter 3, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  
  • We read in 1 John chapter 1, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  
  • When we hear Jesus’ warnings, when we hear these passages, when we examine ourselves in the mirror of God’s Ten Commandments – we quickly become aware of how short we fall.  
  • Our righteousness does not exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees – and it never will.  
  • When we are honest with ourselves we see that we do not deserve to enter the kingdom of heaven.  We see that we deserve to be thrown out and trampled underfoot like salt that has lost its taste.   
  • How blessed we are that God is gracious, loving, and merciful.
  • How blessed we are that God the Father sent Christ Jesus into our flesh to live a life of righteousness that not only exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, but was completely perfect and holy in every way.
  • How blessed we are that God poured out his wrath on his perfect Son that we are forgiven and are set free from the punishment and death that our sin deserves.
  • How blessed we are that God gives us the gift of faith that receives the salvation that Christ accomplished for us through his life, death, and resurrection.   
  • In Christ, “You are the salt of the earth.”  
  • Not because you have made yourself salty by doing a bunch of good works, but because Christ has made you salty by cleansing you by his blood.
  • Notice that in our gospel reading Jesus did not say, “You better become the salt of the earth!”
  • Instead, he said, “You are the salt of the earth.”
  • This is not a command.  It is a description of who you are.  
  • You are the salt of the earth not because of what you have done - but because of what Jesus has done for you.
  • You were made salty in the blessed waters of Holy Baptism where everything that Jesus did for the world - was personally given to you.  
  • You are made salty with the body and blood of Jesus in Holy Communion – he salts you with his forgiveness, strength, and promise of eternal life.
  • “You are the salt of the earth.”  This is who you are.  
  • You are the salt of the earth as you serve God in your vocations by being a loving spouse, parent, child, co-worker, neighbour, student, friend.    
  • You are the salt of the earth as you forgive others as you have been forgiven.  As you show compassion.  As you are charitable and generous.  As you are patient and kind.
  • You are the salt of the earth as you proclaim to others burdened by sin and death that Christ has died for them too.  That their sins are forgiven.  That they too have been promised eternal life in the kingdom of heaven.
  • In Jesus, through Jesus, because of Jesus – you are the salt of the earth. 
  • Be who you are so that others see your good works, so that others experience God’s love, mercy, and peace, so that others give glory to your Father who is in heaven.  Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.