5th Sunday after the Epiphany – 2/5/17
Matthew 5:13-20 – Pastor Don Ninmer
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its flavor, how will it become salty again?...You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket. No, they put it on a stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. In the same way let your light shine in people’s presence, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven…Amen I tell you: until heaven and earth pass away, not even the smallest letter or ever part of a letter will in any way pass away from the Law until everything is fulfilled…Indeed I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and experts in the law, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mathew 5:13, 14-16, 18, 20)
Today I am thinking of a special word. Some of you might be thinking of the same word. Do you know what that word is? It is the word “super.” Perhaps you have heard that word a few times this past week. Perhaps you are even sick of hearing it, especially if you are not a football fan. But the word “super” is a fine word.
I asked someone: How are you doing? He said, Super! He added: How are you doing? As you know, I said, okay. I am afraid that I will never be super again, but sometimes okay is okay. Can you think of other ways that the word “super” is used. We might think of superman. Some of you had superman comic books when you were young. Super!!
I am thinking of super soaker. Did any of you have that as a kid? It was a pressurized air gun to shoot water. Total sales have been more than a billion dollars. I never had one. All I had was the little water squirt gun. Some of you might have a sweat shirt that says super mom or super grandpa. For about 40 years there was a basketball team in Seattle called the Supersonics. Now they are the Oklahoma City Thunder.
But these are not the reasons that I am thinking of the word “super” today. Nor am I thinking about it because of a football game. I am thinking about the word “super” because of our text. In these words our Lord gives us some super advice. It comes directly from a sermon preached by the greatest preacher of all time. That is our Savior, Jesus.
It is taken from the section of Scripture which we call the Sermon on the Mount. It is called that because Matthew tells us: Now when He saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him and He began to teach them. Here we see the love and concern that Jesus had for people. It is this same love and concern which would lead Him to die for the sins of the world on the cross. In that sermon or Bible class on the mount the Lord gives us some super advice.
He begins with the Beatitudes. Do you remember that section? It was our Gospel lesson last Sunday. Nine times Jesus uses the word “blessed.” He uses that to describe a believer and his life. He says things like this: Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are those who mourn…Blessed are the meek…Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness…Blessed are the merciful…Blessed are the pure in heart…Blessed are the peacemakers…Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness. (Matthew 5:3-10)
He is talking about believers, those who have found forgiveness in Jesus. He would have us remember that if we have that, if we have God’s forgiveness, then we are truly blessed. In Matthew 5 Jesus also reminds us that if we have that, it will show in our lives. It is to us then that our Savior gives some additional super advice this morning.
There are four pieces of super advice that our Savior gives to us in His sermon. First He says: You are the salt of the earth. You all know about salt. Some of us know too well about salt. Salt is a reminder that we are living in a sinful word. In a perfect world, no one would have to watch their salt intake.
That is not the point that Jesus is making. The point is that as salt adds flavor to food and as salt preserves food, so we are to add flavor to the world. Though we live in a sinful world and though we know too well that we are also sinners, we have something that will preserve people through all eternity. That is the Gospel message. We should generously use our salt shakers and tell the world about the Savior. We are the salt of the earth. We are the only hope that some people have to learn about Jesus.
The second piece of super advice that Jesus gives is: You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden…In the same way let your light shine in people’s presence, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. We emphasize that we do good works. But we do them to show our love for Jesus. We don’t do them to earn our way to heaven. When we do them it is only because we are motivated by our love for Jesus and the faith which the Holy Spirit has given to us.
The third piece of super advice that He gives is this: Until heaven and earth pass away, not even the smallest letter, or even part of a letter, will in any way pass away from the Law until everything is fulfilled. The advice He gives is this: God’s Word is God’s Word. That Word will not change as long as this world exists. That includes the message of God’s Law which tells us that we are sinners and the message of God’s Gospel which tells us that Jesus is the Savior from sin. God says that no matter what people do or say, His Word will stand as long as this world does, and even forever. That is super advice.
The fourth piece of advice that our Lord gives is this: Indeed I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and experts in the law, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. The advice of our Savior, which will stand through all eternity is that salvation is by faith alone. The Pharisees and experts in the law thought that they could earn their own salvation. Jesus says that salvation is by the grace of God through faith.
These four pieces of advice of our Savior are super. They do not change. That is true because we have had our own super bowl. It took place on Calvary. There the forces of evil, led by their quarterback, satan, worked out a great game plan. They attacked with all the force at their disposal. It was a fearsome battle. But Jesus won and proclaimed for all to hear: It is finished. He is our superman and our MVP
Today and tomorrow, and for the coming week, you will hear the word super as in super bowl. Today in our stadium our Lord gives us some super advice. I hope that the word super will remind you of that super advice that our Savior gives us in our text for today. I hope it will remind you that this advice will stand as long as this world does, indeed through all eternity. I hope it will remind you that our super bowl was on the cross and took place over 2000 years ago on the cross.