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Matthew 5:1-12 – The Beattitudes

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Matthew 5:17-20 – Jesus came to fulfil the law

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Notes for parents and guardians

What God says you are

Matthew 5:13-16 is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount” and it follows just after Jesus spoke the Beatitudes which list the promises of blessings to those who are facing difficult situations. Though Jesus was addressing the crowd, He was speaking to His disciples and to those who believes in Him.  This scripture (Matthew 5:13-16) unveils what is in God’s heart. It revealed four great things that God says we (believers) are to God:

1. God says believers are salt of the world

Salt is used to enhance the flavour of food, to preserve food, to disinfect and to cure. Salt has many benefits and it is very stable. It can last forever under normal conditions. Likewise, as believers, our calling is to bless and help others in the world. God has great plans for our lives. We have eternal life and we will always be useful and fruitful, even as we age (Psalams 92:14) because we have the Holy Spirit in us. We are unlike people of this world, we have Jesus, we have life, eternal life.

2. God says believers are lamps that He has lighted up

It is God who chooses us. It is Jesus who suffered and died to redeem us so that we can have life. That is what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:15 that we are the lamp that God lighted up. So if God has chosen us and redeemed us, His plan for us is great. He will not let us live a hidden life. He wants us to live a life that blesses others, that glorifies God.

3. God says believers are the light of the world

Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12, 1:5). Anyone who walks with Jesus will not live in darkness because He is the light that leads to life. Yet Jesus calls us the light of the world. As believers, Jesus lives in us and we are in Jesus. His light will shine through us to the world. When Jesus says we are the light of the world, it means that we are called to let Jesus works through us to heal, to bless to give hope and life to people of the world.

4. God says a believer is a city on top of a hill

The lives of believers are planned by God and God’s plans for believers are great. The works and achievements that God will do through us will be so great and prominent that no one can missed seeing our success. Our God is the Creator of this universe. He works with infinite numbers, there is no scarcity with God. He does great things. Can you imagine how great your success will be? Yet the Bible says God works beyond your imagination (Ephesians 3:20).

 

Now that you know what God calls you, believers of Jesus, how would you want the days of your life to be?

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Questions & Answers

QUESTIONS RELATED TO THIS SCRIPTURE READING

How is salt formed?

If you have learned Chemistry, you would have learned that table salt is called sodium chloride (NaCl). It is a compound made up of 2 elements– sodium ( a metal) and chlorine ( a gas).

Sodium is a soft metal that is highly reactive. It cannot be left in the air as it will react vigorously with oxygen or water vapour, producing sodium hydroxide and hydrogen which can lead to fire or explosion. It has to be stored in kerosene.

Chlorine is a pungent, greenish-yellow gas that has disinfecting properties and is often used to kill parasites, bacteria and viruses in water. It is also highly reactive. Chlorine can react with water in the presence of sunlight, to form hydrochloric acid and oxygen.

Under suitable conditions, the sodium metal and chlorine gas can react to form  sodium chloride, which is also known as table salt (or common salt). Sodium chloride can also be formed by mixing (neutralising) hydrochloric acid with sodium hydroxide (an alkali). We will get a salt solution, i.e. sodium chloride in water. If we leave the solution to evaporate, we will see the salt crystals after the water has been evaporated.

The diagram below shows the three substances: Sodium metal, Chlorine gas and salt (Sodium Chloride).

Sodium Metal

Greenhorn1, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Chlorine gas

Table Salt (Sodium Chloride)

Ondřej Mangl, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It is very interesting to note that the end product, sodium chloride is a completely different substance from its original parent elements. Sodium chloride is an edible and useful substance that is essential to life. It is stable and does not corrode or disintegrate in room temperature, even over long period of time. Whereas, sodium and chlorine are both highly reactive elements.

Salt can be found naturally as rock salt in the ocean, in salt springs, salt lakes and salt deposits.

Above is Zuni Salt Lake, New Mexico, where the Zuni harvest salt. Image by Netherzone, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Commercial salt is manufactured from rock salt, as well as from seawater and other natural and artificial brines. The table salt we eat is the end product of a two-step process of extraction and refinement – called Solution Mining and Brine Evaporation. In solution mining, salt is extracted by forcing water under pressure into an underground salt bed. The salt dissolves, turning the water into brine. The brine is then boiled so that the water could evaporate, leaving behind the salt crystals.

 

In above image, brine is being boiled down to produce salt at the Xinhai Well in Zigong, China. Image by Phreakster 1998 at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons.

Salts from natural sources contain more than just sodium chloride. It may contain other compounds such as magnesium chlorides, magnesium sulphates, calcium chlorides, calcium sulphates and other contaminants. Pure sodium chloride is obtained through purification processes such as filtration (which filters out insoluble items) and chemical precipitation to obtain pure sodium chloride.

 

Our cells need salt to regulate the movement of water in or out of themselves by a process called osmosis. Nerve cells rely on salts ions to send impulses from sensory organs to the central nervous system and out to muscles.  Although too much salt will cause high blood pressure, too little salt is detrimental to our bodies.

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2. Can salt lose its saltiness?

To find out if salt will lose its saltiness, we need to dive a bit deeper into chemistry to understand what is within the sodium metal, the chlorine gas and the compound sodium chloride.

First, let’s understand a few chemistry terms.

      • An element is a substance that cannot be broken down into any simpler substances. Elements are the fundamental materials. Hence, we say sodium is an element and chlorine is another element.
      • Elements can combine to form compounds. Sodium chloride is a compound.
      • Within an element, there exists many atoms. An atom is the basic particle of an element.
      • Within an atom, there exists electrons (that are negative  charges) and an equal amount of protons (that are positive charges).
      • Atoms can combine to form molecules.

On its own, the sodium atom (represented by Na) has 11 electrons. As shown below, the outer most electron does not have a partner electron, so the sodium metal has a strong affinity to give away an electron. Chlorine atom (represented by Cl) has 17 elections. So one of chlorine’s outer most electron does not have a partner too. Therefore, the chlorine atom has a strong affinity to accept an electron, as shown below.

Electron distribution within the Sodium atom, the Chlorine atom and how the electron is transferred to form Sodium Chloride. This image is by Greenhorn1, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The reason why the sodium metal is highly reactive is because of the outer most electron that does not have a partner. After it gives out an electron, the sodium atom is called a postively charged sodium ion (represented by Na+) because it has lost a negative charged electron. Likewise, the chlorine atom, upon receiving an electron is now  a negatively charged chloride ion (represented by Cl_) .

As a result of sodium atoms’ “eagerness” to give an electron and chlorine atoms’ “readiness” for an electron, there exists a strong attraction between the sodium ions and the chloride ions. It is these “forces of attraction that holds the positively charged sodium ions and the negatively charged chloride ions together as shown below:

Above image shows the crystal structure of sodium chloride, NaCl, in solid form. The purple spheres represent positively charged sodium ions, Na+, and the green spheres represent negatively charged chloride ions, Cl. The yellow stipples represent the electrostatic force in each ionic bond.This image is by Goran tek-en, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The new compound sodium chloride (salt) is therefore extremely stable because every electron now has a partner electron. It is no longer easy to break the sodium ions from the chloride ions. This explains why salt is extremely stable.

For salt to lose its saltiness means we need to break the sodium ions from the chloride ions. When we dilute the salt with a lot of water, it appears to be much less salty but we can still get back the salt crystal simply by allowing the water to evaporate away. When salt is diluted with water, the sodium ions appear to be further away from the chloride ions (as shown in the below diagram) as they are now surrounded by water molecules. However, it does not break the sodium ions completely from the chloride ions. The sodium chloride solution (also known as brine) still taste salty. When the water evaporates, the sodium and chloride ions are joint back together and we get back the same amount of salt that we begin with. The salt crystals tastes just as salty as before.

 

Above image illustrates how the positively charged sodium (Na+) ion and negatively charged chloride (Cl-) ion are surrounded by water molecules which is made up of oxygen ions (represented by grey circles) and hydrogen ions (represented by red circles).  This image is by Hawesthoughts, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

For salt to lose its saltiness, we have to use chemical reaction, not only to break the sodium and chloride ions apart, we have to combine the sodium and chloride ions with other chemicals such as sulphuric acid and with addition of heat, resulting in completely different compounds.  One such reaction is to subject sodium chloride to sulphur dioxide and sulphur trioxide at high temperatures in air  that will lead to the formation of solid sodium sulfate, which is the molten state of a powerful corrosive agent.

Another method is to pass direct electric current to the salt water to cause a chemical reastion that will break the sodium and chloride ions apart. This is used in an industrial process called Chloralkali where salt water is subjected to electric current and the result is sodium hydroxide (NaOH), hydrogen and chlorine gas.

 

In conclusion, we would say it is possible for salt to lose its saltiness but it is not easy to do so. You will need to subject it to high temperatures or electricity and make use of other chemicals to cause chemical reactions that will result in new compounds.

 

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3. What did Jesus meant when He says “you are the salt of the world”?

When Jesus said in Matthew 5:13 that “you are the salt of the earth”, He was referring to His disciples and whoever believes in Jesus. All believers are sealed by the Holy Spirit and become a new creation with a new life, an eternal life.

In other words, when we believe in Jesus, we are like the sodium metal combining with chlorine, forming the salt sodium chloride. Just as salt has so many uses (for seasoning, curing and preserving, disinfecting, etc.), so are we who are believers because we have the Holy Spirit in us. God can work through us to bless the many people on earth. Just as the corrosive sodium become a stable sodium chloride compound that will not corrode and can last forever, we become a new creation and we have eternal life.

In addition, just as salt is used by all people on earth, the plans that God has for believers are great and our calling is to bless many people. Even if you are called to be a home maker raising up your children, you will be surprised by God that your children will grow up to touch the lives of many. Even if you are called to comfort a friend or a neighbour, that friend or neighbour may some day be in a ministry that serve  a global market. Yet, you were the person whom God use to help this person fulfill his calling.

 

4. Why did Jesus says “if salt loses its flavour”?

From question 1 and 2 above, we have learned that even in water, sodium chloride remains as sodium chloride. Even when the salt water (brine) is contaminated with other compounds, there are processes that can extract pure sodium chloride.  In other words, when salt loses its saltiness, it is actually a situation where sodium chloride is no longer sodium chloride. It may still look like white crystals but it could be something else, e.g. sodium sulphates.

We have also learned that sodium chloride is very stable and does not break down easily or react easily to form new compounds unless other chemicals with high heat or electricity is added. This means it is very difficult for salt to lose its saltiness. So why did Jesus say “if salt lose its flavour”?

For believers, because we have the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will sustain us even when we walk through difficult times and will guide us when we are tempted. Even if we do fail, when we have a contrite heart, Christ’s blood covers us and God will restore and strengthen us even more, so we could continue our journey in fulfilling the calling God has for our lives.

This means that for believers, as long as we are alive, even if they sin, even if they make great mistakes, even if they mess up their lives, Christ’s blood is able to purify the believer and give him a new life, a new beginning. God’s grace is able and sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) to restore and strengthen this believer and give him new hope. He will flourish again.

Hence, we are as stable as salt. There will always be new hope for the believers (Lamentations 3:22-23). As long as the believer continue to put his faith in God, God will restore and comfort him. His life will turn around. There is no reason for him to breakdown. Neither is it possible for a believer to lose his salvation because he has the Holy Spirit. God is faithful and will sustain and keep him.

However, if a believer deliberately continue sinning and chooses to never turn back to God till the day he die, it would be  like salt being subjected to electric current and becoming a different compound (losing its flavour). It is like what apostle Paul wrote:

Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.  There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. (Hebrews 10:26-27 )

Take note of the similarity of what Jesus said and what apostle Paul wrote:

…..But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. (Matthew 5:13)

… there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. (Hebrews 10:26-27 )

Promise

Claim this promise spoken by Jesus

PromiseClaim this promise spoken by Jesus

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

Matthew 5:14, NKJV

Do you want to receive Jesus into your life?

God loves you (John 3:16) and sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to this world to suffer and die in your place so that when you believe in Jesus, you are saved, crossing from death to life (John 5:24, 6:54).  By the blood of Jesus, all your sins (past, present and future) are forgiven and the Holy Spirit of God that gives eternal life (John 6:63) can live in you forever (John 14:16). All it takes is to believe and say a simple prayer like this:

“Dear LORD Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God and that Your love for me has driven You to leave Your throne in heaven to come to this world to die in my place so that I can be forgiven. Thank you that You suffered and died for me. I pray that You come into my life to be my Savior. Thank you that your blood has cleansed me from all my sins and I am forgiven even as I say this prayer. I believe and declare that from this moment onwards, , I am a new creation, I am a child of God, I am forgiven, I have a new life, an eternal life. I pray that You fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I can lead the victorious life that You came to give me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

If you have said the above prayer, you are saved. You have eternal life. You are a Christian, a new creation. Old things have passed away. God is doing a new thing in your life. Start walking with Jesus (pray to Him, read the bible, believe His promises) and you are going to experience breakthroughs and miracles. Look for a church that is based on the Word of God (the Bible), that believes in the power and miracles of God and that teaches the unfailing love and grace of God.

Credits: All icons and stickers are from Flaticon.

If you are not yet a Christian but would like to receive Jesus into your life, pray this prayer:

“Dear LORD Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God and that Your love for me has driven You to leave Your throne in heaven to come to this world to die in my place so that I can be forgiven. Thank you that You suffered and died for me. I pray that You come into my life to be my Savior. Thank you that your blood has cleansed me from all my sins and I am forgiven even as I say this prayer. I believe and declare that from this moment onwards, , I am a new creation, I am a child of God, I am forgiven, I have a new life, an eternal life. I pray that You fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I can lead the victorious life that You came to give me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

If you have said the above prayer, you are saved. You have eternal life. You are a Christian, a new creation. Old things have passed away. God is doing a new thing in your life. Start walking with Jesus (pray to Him, read the bible, believe His promises) and you are going to experience breakthroughs and miracles. Look for a church that is based on the Word of God (the Bible), that believes in the power and miracles of God and that teaches the unfailing love and grace of God.

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