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9-27-15

What do you think when you hear the phrase rubbing salt in an open wound. We immediately think of someone who has made someone’s pain worse.. Putting salt on a wound does burn, However it also could save a person’s life. Before the days of antibiotic wipes, creams, drugs, and other things, salt was one of the ways that people would fight infection. You would put the salt on the wound with the hopes that it would kill the bacteria that could be an infection. This use of salt shouldn’t surprise us since we still use it this way today. A saline solution is just that, salt and water, used to fight infections, clean contacts, and other uses.

As we come to our Text today and hear Jesus’ discussion on salt, this use of it should come to mind. In the time of Christ, salt extremely valuable. Instead of paying their soldiers in coins, Roman soldiers were paid with salt because it could be traded as a valuable commodity. That’s why we have the phrase, worth your salt. Salt’s value came from its lack of mass production and its important uses. We already spoke about the medical uses, the other necessary use of salt was preserving food. Without refrigeration, food spoils fast, so salt was needed to preserve food and season it.

Jesus calls the church the salt of the earth during the Sermon on the Mount and here offers a similar statement. We think about salt and the uses that it has and it starts to show the kinds of things we are to be. It’s flavor stands out as the Christian stands out against a world that rejects the Words of its creator. As salt preserves food from corruption, the Law of God calls us away from slavery to sin that would only destroy us. It shows us that sin is slavery and that it does nothing but destroy us. And as salt purifies, so too we hear the Words of Life of our Lord, speaking forgiveness of sins to a once lost and condemned people. Both of these are summed up in our James reading for today in the final two verses,  My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Yet too many times, we don’t act as the salt of the earth, but would rather be the sugar of the world. Rather than standing out, rather than holding to the truth and speaking that truth in love… we’d rather be a spoonful of sugar to make the sin go down in the most delightful way. Rather than going along with our Lord’s Word, we go along with the false wisdom of this world. Because our world has this wrong idea that if you care about someone, you can’t disagree with them or tell them they are wrong. You’re told you have to enable them to be loving, which is madness. If this is the case, you can’t parent a child because children need to be corrected. You can’t tell someone that their self destructive behavior is bad… it is nothing other than enabling people to harm themselves when we accept this mentality.

By accepting that mentality, the salt becomes saltless because it would not speak the truth in love. And… often it is tempting to do so because we don’t want to stick out and we want to be liked. But if salt loses its saltiness, how can it become salty again? If salt loses that saltiness, it is worth the same as dirt because it is not able to do what it is supposed to do. If we deserve anything, we deserve to be cut off and tossed into the fire.

YET WE REMEMBER THAT CHRIST WAS CUT OFF FOR US SO THAT WE WOULD BE PURIFIED OF SIN AND MADE THE SALT OF THE EARTH

 Sin and false teaching, Christ takes them very seriously with this saying and continues on with a hyperbole to help set that sin is something that is going to destroy. Part of your body going to sin? Well cut it off and toss it away, better you go into heaven with one arm than burn as an entire body.

 If only it were so easy as to get rid of sin as to cut our arms off! The one eyed, one armed, one legged man is not the most holy of all people...Because sin does not come from our limbs… it comes from the corrupt and broken heart. Sure, I could cut my hand off before I steal something, but moments later I would covet the people who still have hands. If we try to make this Text about how much harder we should be working to be perfect, we’re quickly going to be left crushed under the weight of the Law because we are unable to do it.

 As we truly reflect on this, we find ourselves in great need. We are salt that often times lets its saltiness fade away. Called to repent

To us who know that we should have been cut off from God, we remember THAT CHRIST WAS CUT OFF FOR US SO THAT WE WOULD BE PURIFIED OF SIN AND MADE THE SALT OF THE EARTH

 If we want the true picture of the severity of sin, we can look nowhere else but the cross.. The Hymn “Stricken Smitten, and Afflicted” speaks this truth clearly during the 3rd verse, “Ye who think of sin but lightly nor suppose the evil great. Here may view its nature rightly, here its guilt may estimate. Mark the sacrifice appointed see who bears the awful load. Tis the Word the Lord’s anointed, Son of Man and Son of God.

 And yet there, despite how bad it was, there our Lord hangs on a tree for us. For all of us who deserved to be cut out of the body and cast off , Christ was cut off and cast off into death for us. We hear it clearly as He says, “Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?!” The true Son of God suffers the wrath of God that was meant for sinners. He takes your place in death so that you can have the life that He won. All your guilt is not taken away as you have been washed in the blood of Christ who died for you, who purifies you and makes you His own. And as Christ who died also lives, so too we look forward to everlasting life which He has opened up for us. No fear of missing, weak, or broken bodies, for when Christ comes again, all flesh will be restored.

 As we wait for the day when Jesus comes again in glory, being the salt of the earth is a difficult thing. It is, in fact, something that would be impossible for us to do on our own. But our God has promised us His Holy Spirit, who continues to work in Word and Sacrament to strengthen us in this faith and confess His name before all people. Being the salt of the earth means first we are going to stand out. Christ during the sermon on the Mount calls Christians to let their good deeds show before all men that they may see them and glorify our Lord. Both the things we say and the things we do should point others to the cross of Jesus Christ. Let love, peace, and forgiveness abound among us. If there is anything that should make us stand out in the midst of an unbelieving world, it should be the fact that we understand forgiveness and offer it like no one else.

 As salt preserves food, so too the Word of our God calls us and preserves us against the corruption that this world continues to suffer in. As the salt of the earth, we continue to hold to the Words of our Lord which delivers us from slavery. Sin is slavery, no matter how fun whatever it is may seem. In baptism, we were connected to the death of Christ and died to sin that we would not longer be a slave to it. Our Lord offers to us a better way, as the commands He gives are not just rules that are put out for us, but are gifts that He institutes by each commandment. Each of these gifts that He gives to us are precious and we thank our Lord for them by faithfully hearing His Word, which declares us free of all guilt.

 And above all else, we continue to proclaim the message of Christ crucified to a world that is in desperate need of this message. This message is one that is scandalous to the world because the world does not understand forgiveness. No amount of legalism, no amount of ignoring the commands of God will bring life to the sinner. It is only by the saving work of Jesus Christ, who suffered the wrath of God for us, that one receives the promises of forgiveness of sins and life by His name. As salt purifies a wound, so too His wounds have purified us and make us holy. This is a message we have received to confess before all people.

 Words of comfort to you is that the Holy Spirit is greater than our weakness. We who have been called to be the salt of the earth, still have times when we fall short. Even at times when we don’t speak perfectly, the Holy Spirit will take His Word and accomplish His purpose for it. We are called to confess and He is the one who can take this Word and call the sinner to faith.

 As we have seen, sin is something that our Lord takes seriously. Too often, instead of holding to what our Lord has delivered to us, we remain silent and are a stumbling block to little ones. We repent and recognize that CHRIST WAS CUT OFF FOR US SO THAT WE WOULD BE PURIFIED OF SIN AND MADE THE SALT OF THE EARTH. As the salt, we confess the name of Jesus to those who are around us, knowing that by HIs saving work, we have life. Amen.

  December 2017  
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