Red Letter Year: 3/15

Matthew 5:13-20

You are the salt of the earth. 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.

You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”


You are salty – keep be salty. You light up all those around you – don’t put out your light, keep shining bright. With both of these Jesus encourages us to keep being and doing what we are. He doesn’t say become salty or turn on your light. We are salty and we illuminate because the Holy Spirit makes these so, we don’t have the power to generate these realities, but we do have the power to negate them. So how about it? How salty are you? Are you adding flavor to the lives of the people around you? Are you lighting up your corner of the world? Are people illuminated when they are with you? If not, ask the Spirit to renew your flavor and rekindle your flame. Also spend time praying, asking how it is you lost your saltiness and light. Work on keeping those traits.

Also, this thing about Jesus not abolishing the law. The Gospels are written in Greek, but the Hebrew/Aramaic word Jesus used when he gave this teaching was most likely the word qum, which means to fill full (many English translations have “fulfill” right here) or to resurrect, i.e., to fill (a dead body) full of life. I think that is the best understanding here. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law of Moses, he came to raise it from the dead and fill it full of life. That’s what Jesus does with everything – he fills us full of life, saltiness, and light. Let’s live bright, shining, salty lives full of life!

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Red Letter Year: 3/14

Matthew 5:1-11

One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.

God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.


The Sermon on the Mount is the most concentrated extended passage of Jesus’ teaching in all the Gospels. Unlike the other three writers, Matthew arranges his Gospel more thematically than chronologically, or you might say more in terms of genre. In chapters 5-7 we have uninterrupted expository preaching/teaching. Later we will read chunks of parables all collected together and miracle stories all grouped together. It makes for a very powerful written form; the Sermon on the Mount has been a key text for many disciples and friends of Jesus. We are going to take it slowly through The Sermon, but even so, I cannot begin to give adequate commentary to the teaching in this space (which is not the goal here anyway, I want your focus on the red letters more than what I have to say). For today, let me draw your attention to just one thing. I said yesterday that the summary for the whole of The Sermon was 4.17:  “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” One way to read the Blessings is that they describe the condition of people likely to repent and the activity of people who have completed the turn toward God. Those who are poor and feel their poverty, those who mourn, those who have been humiliated, those who have been denied justice – these are people ready to turn away from sin and self. Once they do make that turn 180 degrees and begin moving toward Jesus, these same people work to show mercy, to purify, to create peace, and to keep doing what is right in the face of adversity. Blessings on everyone who turn and follow Jesus.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.