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Matthew 5:13-20

Lesson Focus

At the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus wants us to know who we are. We are salt and light because we are followers of the Law of God. Only we haven’t always understood the Law correctly. Jesus is helping us see what the Law means so that we can be salt and light.

Lesson Outcomes

Through this lesson, students should:

  1. Understand that we are the salt and the light of the world.

  2. Understand that the Beatitudes describe for us some of the ways we are to live as Salt and Light.

  3. Be encouraged to intentionally live as Salt and Light.

Catching Up On The Story

Matthew begins his gospel with a genealogy. By far, Matthew’s gospel is the most Jewish of the gospels. His intended audience is familiar with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The genealogy situates Jesus’ birth right smack in the middle of the ongoing story of God and his chosen people. In addition to the genealogy, Matthew also begins detailing how prophecy has been fulfilled by certain characters' actions in the story. Matthew will make extensive use of Old Testament scripture.

We move from the birth narrative to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. John the Baptist begins to prepare God’s people for the coming of their Messiah by calling them to repentance. Turning needs to take place for God’s people. John is quite clear in his preaching. Those who begin to produce the fruit of righteous living will be safe when God’s Kingdom comes. Those who do not produce fruit will find their very existence in jeopardy.

John is not the main show, however. He baptized with water, but one is coming who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. Enter Jesus. As John is at the river baptizing people, Jesus arrives and requests to be baptized. Jesus gets baptized not because he needs to stop sinning and turn towards God but to show his full commitment to the will of God. As Jesus comes up from the water, a dove descends on him, and God the Father proclaims from heaven that he is pleased with Jesus, his beloved Son.

Jesus moves on to the wilderness, where he will be tested. Will Jesus, amidst great temptation, continue to remain faithful? Of course, the answer is yes. Jesus emerges from the wilderness temptation, ready to call his first disciples. As he moves through the countryside, performing great acts of healing, his fame begins to spread. Soon enough, large crowds are following him wherever he goes. Jesus then begins the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon begins with the Beatitudes and is a collection of Jesus’ teachings intended to help Jesus’ followers grow in discipleship.

Last week we examined the Beatitudes in depth. We first discovered that before there is any talk about what we ought to do, Jesus comes to us amid all our brokenness and promises to be with us and for us forever. We are now called to hand out the things we have received because of God’s grace to those around us. We discovered that the Beatitudes are cyclical: the more grace we get from God, the more we can give. The cycle ends only if we stop responding to God’s grace.

Matthew 5:13-20*

13 “You all, you are the only 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 underfoot.

14 “You all, you are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it under the bushel basket but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, all of you, together, let your light shine before others so that they may see your kind of good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

17 “Do not ever think that I have come to eliminate or throw away the Old Testament (law or the prophets); I have come not to destroy it but to make it stan