You are the salt of the earth…
In Matthew 4:17, as Jesus speaks to the crowd, He addresses the fact that the Jews are the salt of the earth. The Jewish nation is the salt of the earth because of the promises that God gave to Abraham. In Genesis 15:18-21, God made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants regarding a specific section of land. It is because of this covenant that the earth is being preserved. Jesus is using the term “salt” metaphorically to describe how the nation of Israel keeps the earth from total destruction. However, if a Jew is not believing in the promise and doesn’t live a life that glorifies God, what value towards preserving the world does this Jew have? Just as salt that has no flavor is cast out to be trodden by men, so a Jew who does not believe in the Kingdom will be tossed aside. The message that Jesus is bringing requires the Jews to change their mind about His coming Kingdom. The Kingdom is now at hand. If they do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, then how can they enter into the Kingdom?
Christians are never describe as salt. There is only one section in Scripture where salt is used in connection with a Christian; Colossians 4:6. Christians are instructed that their speech should be with grace and seasoned with salt.
As God’s nation the Israelites are also described by Jesus as being a light to the world. He likens them to a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. The nation as a whole is responsible for showing light to the world by their good works so that their Father who is in heaven will be glorified (The Gentile nations that observe their good works will have a proper opinion of God). The Mosaic Law is a light to their feet and a lamp for their path1. Through living according to the Law they could manifest their God, the only true God, to the nations2.
Christians are called light; however, similarity is not identical. Light is God’s life in activity3. The Jewish nations showed the light to the world through the Law. Christians show the light to the world through manifesting the fruit of the Spirit. Christians are sons of the light4 and are therefore expected to walk in the light5. A son holds a special place of privilege. Since we are sons we are not under any law; rather, we are able to mature so we do not need tutors and governors to garrison us around all the time. We express light by showing love to our fellow Christians6 according to the commandments that we as Christians received from Christ; Love other Christians 7, believe on the character of His Son Jesus Christ 8, abide in Christ 9.
1 Psalm 119:105
2 Romans 2:19
3 John 8:12; 11:9
4 1 Thessalonians 5:5
5 1 John 1:7
6 1 John 2:9
7 John 13:34, 35 Jesus gives a new standard by which those of the dispensation of grace are expected to live by. Under the Mosaic Law the Jews were instructed to love their neighbor as themselves. Jesus changes this standard for Christians. The love for another Christian is not set by how we love ourselves, but by how Christ loves us. This type of love can only be expressed to other Christians when a saint is Spiritual* and therefore able to use the fruit from the Spirit.(“Others” is a specific Greek word that means “others of the same kind” (αλλήλων). Christians are not instructed to love everyone as Christ loved them, but specifically to express Christ’s quality of love to other Christians. It is by this expression of love that all will see that we are Christ’s disciples); 1 John 3:23; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
8 1 John 3:23
9 1 John 3:24; John 15:1-4
* Spiritual – Having a mind that is set on who you are in Christ and living a life that is led by the Holy Spirit.