In the years of His public ministry Jesus drew a large following. News about Him spread beyond Israel’s borders all over Syria. The crowds that followed Him were a motley crew ranging from locals to foreigners from all walks of life. Intermittently people would ask Him questions; in the spur of a moment Jesus decided to sit down on top of a hill and give them His full attention, inspiring the Sermon on the Mount. The traditional location for the Mount of Beatitudes is on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Bearing in mind that Jesus talks to a multi-ethnic crowd but addresses His countrymen in particular, He resorts to word imagery throughout the sermon. Images are strong and translate well into different cultures. He picked salt and light to address some issues He noticed among God’s people. “When salt loses its flavor it’s no longer good for anything.” Jesus says; in other words a believer loses flavor when love goes out the window.
Not to mingle with the unclean had become a religious obsession separating the Jews from the rest of the world. Just as focused light develops into devastating wildfires destroying wildlife and vegetation in the process and just as salt landscapes are entirely sterile, that’s the kind of barren landscape the believers represent who do not mingle. Light and salt can only serve its purpose when spread.
Sitting on the patio at night with a light source, we know what happens after a short while. All kinds of flying critters will come straight toward the light. Light attracts. Regardless where we are from, there is a common denominator: we are all drawn to the light.
God is light. Whoever walks with God walks in the light. And whoever walks in the light is very noticeable and attracts other people. Revealing God’s mysteries and uncovering His unfathomable love as we mingle with others is the destiny of God’s children. Spreading light and salt they make this world a better place – and point to an even better world to come.