The following Scripture will be used in our 10 am Worship Service Sunday February 5, 2017
Salt & Light
Introduction to the Scripture
This week’s reading doesn’t come out of the blue. It follows some significant events.
After Jesus’ baptism, his temptation in the desert, and beginning his teaching and preaching, he called his first few disciples to follow him. They said yes…and travelled with Jesus around Galilee, learning first-hand from him as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and healed people.
When Jesus saw that crowds began to follow him, he went up a hillside, sat down, and taught, with his disciples and the crowd ready to listen. The teaching includes chapters 5-7, which is often referred to as Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” or “Teachings on the Mount” …110 verses! Last week we heard the beginning of this teaching: The Beatitudes. Blessed are you when… All these are blessings that come in the midst of trouble in our souls or relationships, when we make an opening for God to breathe life and healing into us when we are on empty, if we are willing. Each spiritual quality means to shock the audience because it turns upside down the usual understanding of what is a blessing.
Now we move to the next part of Jesus’ teaching. Two translations of the passage follow: one traditional and one modern.
What do you hear for yourself about salt, light, and being more righteous than the Pharisees?
Traditional (New Revised Standard Version)
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Modern English (The Message Bible – Eugene Peterson)
11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
13 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
17-18 “Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.
19-20 “Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.