In the Name of Jesus
8. Sonntag nach Trinitatis 053
Athanasia, Widow Abbess at Timia, Greece, 860
14. August 2011
1. O Heavenly Father, for whom Jesus is Spokesman, You have spoken to Your people in many times and in various ways upon the mountaintop. Since we are unable as sinners to ascend up to You, You have descended upon us to draw us into Your holy and glorious presence. You give us Your law and gospel so that we are taught by Your Holy Words, and in receiving Your Words we are blessed beyond measure. By the power of the Holy Spirit You dwell in us, we ask You to change our hearts so that we may be humble, merciful, pure in heart, pursuing righteousness and peace, as Jesus, Your Divine Word, promised to make us once on a mountainside. Amen.
2. Our sermon text for this morning, dear brothers and sisters, is from the Gospel according to Matthew where the holy evangelist writes: Jesus taught the disciples, saying: 13„You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.“ This is our text.
3. As Jesus continues His grand teaching of the disciples and the crowds in Chapter 5, our Lord uses the images and metaphors of salt and light. Both salt and light are good and necessary, for they are a blessing to and in the world. Jesus compares His Christians, you and me, to salt and light. This is at odds with how some Christians view themselves and their church, those who view their church merely as an organization there just for themselves. This opinion is revealed when someone shows up demanding a church wedding despite the fact that the person hasn’t graced the church with his or her presence for twenty years. This view is one which sees their church as a self-serving end in which the congregation serves as a religious self-service store (Martens § 7). Others regard their Christianity and their church merely as a club of people with similar interests whereupon everyone is friendly and happy to meet with each other (Martens § 7), a sort of a Christianized version of the bar portrayed in ,,Cheers“. On the contrary, Jesus describes us as salt and light to the world. We, as individual Christians and as a church, are to be a blessing to the world.
4. Jesus began His teaching with the Beatitudes at the beginning of Matthew 5. Those Beatitudes promise blessings upon Jesus’ Christians. Disciples are called by Jesus, and Matthew records how Jesus sought out and called His disciples, like Matthew himself. The connection between the blessings of the Beatitudes and the calling as His disciples are absolutely unbreakable (Gibbs 259). It is Jesus who calls you to be His disciples and it is Jesus who decides the nature and the character of His calling to you (Gibbs 259). Jesus’ disciples, then, are by definition the people who salt the earth and who light the world; no one else has this calling (Gibbs 259). You have been baptized in the Name of the Triune God: you are disciples of Jesus; you are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world. Only Jesus and His disciples can do for the fallen world what it needs (Gibbs 260).
5. The key and the source of all this is Jesus. He has called you to be His disciples. He has sent the Holy Spirit to create faith in Him. He law exhorts you to repentance, and His gospel absolves you of your sins. Jesus came to this earth to be salt and light to you. He is the Salt that heals your wounds; He is the Light unto eternal salvation. He now sends you out to be salt and light to your neighbors.
6. Q: What is this? How is this done? A: »A lamp is lit in order to bring light throughout all the house. Likewise, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.« Your good works flow from your vocation. Where has God placed you? How has He blessed you? What are your talents and abilities? Your good works are distributed through your vocational attributes and duties.
7. The average person doesn’t usually think much about their vocational abilities, but every vocational skill utilized by Christians is important. Therefore, you must guard against the malaise that sets in that is content to exercise your vocation in ordinary ways. Christ exhorts His beloved disciples to live in their vocations in extraordinary ways, that is, in ways that go far and beyond what non-Christians do with their vocations (Gibbs 262). Others may be decent parents, but Christians are encouraged to be excellent parents. Others may be ho-hum white or blue collar workers, but Christians are expected to be outstanding white or blue collar workers. Others may be nice neighbors, but Christians are to be exceptional neighbors. Others may be law-abiding citizens, but Christians are to be the most responsible citizens in their community. Others may be charitable, but Christians are to be abundant when they put their offerings in the collection plate. Jesus’ disciples are to live lives of remarkable faithfulness, piety, and generosity (Gibbs 261) so that your words and deeds, in the power of faith and the Holy Spirit, will be like salt, like the light in the darkness (Gibbs 262).
8. Christians often fall woefully short of these expectations, and this is true also in our dear church. Our members do not support their church as they should, they do not exhort one another in grace and love, but instead they are content to be part of the status quo, and their church and the members herein suffer on account of it.
9. As Christians and as a church we must acknowledge our failures, and repent of our sins. We are unable and incapable of being salt and light to each other and the world on our own accord and by our own abilities and powers. We must rely completely and only on Jesus Christ, for He alone makes us salt and light among our neighbors.
10. Jesus is a forgiving savior who is quick to forgive and eager to empower us to be a blessing to both church and neighbor. Each Christian man and woman stands as a disciple because of Jesus’ forgiveness and blessing, and receives Jesus’ calling to be salt and light (Gibbs 262). In the brightness of His light, our light will shine for the blessing and salvation of the world (Gibbs 262). The Psalmist David sings: »How precious is Your loving kindness, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They feast on the abundance of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your delights. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your Light we see light. O continue Your loving kindness to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright of heart!« (Psalm 36,7-10).
11. You are the salt and light of the earth. Jesus has taken you, perfectly ordinary people, and He uses you as a public relations campaign or an advertising medium (Martens § 15) to show the world how His grace and forgiveness touches individual lives for the better. Therefore, Jesus doesn’t want you to hide your light under a bushel basket and deny who you are, rather He wants you to let your light shine, just like a bright spot light or a colorful neon sign so that people see Jesus in you. Jesus is a wonderful Lord and a marvelous hope (Martens § 16), and He wants you, His redeemed Christian people, to point the way to Him as the Savior of the world. Amen.
12. Let us pray. O Lord, Your Name bespeaks Your glory, loving kindness and faithfulness! You have called us to be the salt and the light of the earth, and through Jesus Christ and His merits You have made us that very salt and light so that we may be a rich blessing to this world. Amen.
One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you!
All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the New Testament Greek Manuscripts, Luke © 1995 by Reuben Joseph Swanson.Gibbs, Jeffrey A. Matthew 1:1– 11:1. Copyright © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.
Martens, Gottfried. A sermon preached on 2. August 2009 (8. Trinitatis) in Berlin-Zehlendorf, Germany on Matthew 5,13-16. Copyright © 2011 St. Mary Church in Berlin-Zehlendorf (SELK). All rights reserved. The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind, Tr. © 2011.