Reflections: The Fifth Sunday of Epiphany

Today’s Reading: Matthew 5:13-20

Daily Lectionary: Job 2:1, John 1:19-34

 “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:13, 14)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Anchovies. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they give us a clue into what Jesus is saying: Salt is a preservative. It keeps meat from decaying into stench and worms.  So, Jesus compares us to salt for the earth—a preservative against the stench that comes from the lawlessness that happens on earth. 

In the Cold War, they had air raid drills. During them, everyone would either have to turn out their lights because, if they didn’t, the enemy could see where to attack.  Our Lord says we are the light of the world, a city set on a hill. That sure makes us stand out in the darkness of this world. St. Paul writes that the children of God “shine as lights in the world…in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation” (Phil. 2:15)  

Christians have a unique calling from God toward the decaying stench and deep darkness of this world.  It is why He makes us hang around.  He doesn’t want the world to be left to its own “flavor” or overrun by the darkness of the sinful heart.  It is our task to pray for the world, as Abraham interceded for the wretched cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  We’re placed where we are in 2023 in order to shine light upon those who dwell in darkness.  Sometimes, we selfishly ask God to just give us some shelter from the world and rest from having uncomfortable conversations with trans friends. Our own salt loses its saltiness and it’s easier to cover up our light.

Jesus came not only to expose the rot and blindness of humanity, but to save and shine the pure light of God upon us.  His coming is not a divine “Just Kidding” about the wrath and death of sinners in the Old Testament.  His birth and life, His suffering and death, and His glorious resurrection show both God’s just wrath and His mercy toward our sinful race. His mercy toward you, and extending to every single human being.  If we were to relax His Commandments, it may make things selfishly easier, but it’s not the loving thing to do. 

The loving thing is what God has done, to send His Son to rescue us from the mire and bring us into His marvelous light.  In God’s Son, we are the salt of the earth, the light of the world.  He makes our lives testify that God’s righteousness and salvation is found nowhere else than in Jesus Christ, the Light of the world.  In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

O Lord, keep Your family the Church continually in the true faith that, relying on the hope of Your heavenly grace, we may ever be defended by Your mighty power; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

-Pastor Michael A. Miller is Pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR.,

Audio Reflections Speaker: Patrick Sturdivant, Development and Marketing Executive at Higher Things.

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.