Saturday, December 30, 2023

2023.12.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 5:13–16

Read Matthew 5:13–16

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Matthew 5:13 call them? What might be the condition of the salt? What can’t be done with it? What is it good for? What two things does Matthew 5:14 call them? What can’t be done to this city? What isn’t done to the light (Matthew 5:15)? What is done to it? So that it does what? What are they commanded in Matthew 5:16? What should men see? Whom would they glorify for this? Where is this Father?

How should we respond to persecution? Matthew 5:13–16 prepares us for the morning sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when we are persecuted, we must resist the temptation to be less different or less visible, but shine as those made different by Christ in the place that He has assigned to us.

You are salt, not dirt; embrace the difference Christ has made in youMatthew 5:13. We might find that our blessedness at being persecuted (Matthew 5:10-12) is in some ways quite unpleasant. Even as we seek, by the Spirit, to obey the command to rejoice and be exceedingly glad (Matthew 5:12), our flesh might shrink from the persecution that is the occasion of this command. Can’t I just enjoy having God as my great reward without having to be reviled and persecuted and slandered? No, you cannot. 

If you’re not salty, you’re not salt. “loses its flavor” in Matthew 5:13 is actually a word that sounds like (and means something like) “moronic.” It’s fool’s salt. And, the verse says that fool’s salt is analogous to fool’s gold. It’s only useful for trampling. It’s not actually “Christ’s-kingdom-ly” salt but rather “Satan’s-kingdom-ly” earth/dirt. 

To be un-salty may be enticing because we would not be persecuted. But we would not be rewarded. We would not be blessed. And we would have neither the Father nor the Son as our reward, either now or in the future (cf. Matthew 7:12–27). To be unsalty is to have no cause for rejoicing or being exceedingly glad; it is cause for weeping and gnashing of teeth (cf. Matthew 7:23, Luke 13:27–28).

You are light; shine where you have been placedMatthew 5:14-16. Also, let believers not shrink from where their Lord brings them to shine. If they are in Christ, they already are light, just as they already are salt. For these to whom Jesus was speaking, He has brought them up the literal hill. Perhaps they could already catch glimpses of sneering looks from others below.  

But He uses the analogy of the placement of a city (Matthew 5:14) or the placement of a lamp (Matthew 5:15) to remind them that it was He Who had positioned them. Cities don’t crawl down off of hills, nor do lamps off of stands. Let not believers, who find themselves sticking out as Christians where they are, shrink from either being Christians or being where they are.

Jesus arranges us where we are in His world so that just by being what we are, and being where we are, we will be seen by whom He wants us to be seen. As they persecute us for good works now, they bring glory to the Father Who has shown His heavenly character in us on earth. 

And there will come a day when they can no longer persecute, when their own knees bow and tongues confess, and when God’s justice and God’s people are vindicated (1 Peter 2:15, 1 Peter 2:19–20). When believers suffer for conformity to the Son and the family resemblance of their Father, let them not give in to shunning the circumstances but rather lean in to shining within those circumstances. (cf. Acts 4:29Acts 4:31; Acts 5:40–42)

Where has the Lord placed you to shine? What does shining look like there? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving Yourself to us in Your Son. And thank You for the honor of being counted worthy to suffer for the Name. Grant unto us to rejoice and to keep shining, as those who already have You as our reward, in Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH2B “Why Do Heathen Nations Rage” 

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