Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth.” Jesus says, “You,” emphatically, meaning, you disciples only.” The pronoun, “you,” is emphatic in the Greek. It is placed at the beginning of the sentence. Jesus is talking about you born-again believers of Christ; you who are followers of Christ; you who are members of the kingdom of God. You are the salt of the earth.
How do the disciples function as salt of the earth? Salt is a preservative. Do the disciples then preserve the moral culture? Salt enhances taste. Do the disciples then spice up the life of people around them? Jesus does not explain it. He is not talking about how they function as salt of the earth. He is talking about how they are infinitely valuable in this earth.
Salt had many valuable uses to the ancient world. There were no ice plants, ice blocks, or refrigerators then. But salt preserved the fish from rotting. Salt was a form of salary for Roman soldiers in Jesus’ time. The Romans paid their soldiers with salt. The Latin word is salarium, where we get our word, “salary.” If the Roman soldier would not perform his duties, they would say, “He is not worth his salt.” Salt, then, was a very valuable item.
A turtle family went on a picnic. They had prepared seven years for their outing. The family left home, searching for a suitable place. During the second year of their journey, they found it. For about six months they cleared the area, unpacked the picnic basket, and completed the arrangement. They discovered, however, that they had forgotten the salt. A picnic without salt would be a disaster, they all agreed.
After a lengthy discussion, the youngest turtle was chosen to retrieve the salt at home. Although he was the fastest of the slow-moving turtles, the little turtle whined, cried, and wobbled in his shell. He agreed to go on only with one condition: that no one would eat until he returned. The family consented and the little turtle left.
Three years passed, and the little turtle had not returned. Five years. Six years. Then in the seventh year of his absence, the eldest turtle could no longer contain his hunger. He announced that he was going to eat and began to unwrap a sandwich.
At that point, the little turtle popped out from behind a tree shouting, “SEE! I knew that you wouldn’t wait! Now, I am not going to get the salt!”
Jesus is saying that you are very valuable to this world. You bring value to this world. You are essential in the plan of God for this world. You are critical to the outworking of the kingdom in this world.
Now Jesus preached this sermon in relation to the Kingdom.We must thus interpret saltiness in relation to the Kingdom. Jesus is saying, you are the salt of the earth. You are not to separate from this world. Rather, you are to influence this world for the kingdom. You are now agents of the Kingdom of God. You bring the message of the Kingdom of God. Your witness of the kingdom is vital for this world. Your lifestyle as a kingdom citizen is critical to this world. You are the salt of the earth.