“For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.” Mark 9:49-50
I don’t remember which of my college friends it was who asked this question about this verse but it took a while for me to find a good answer to it.
“What question is that?,” you ask.
Well it’s something like this; salt is a molecular compound made up of two elements, sodium and chloride. It’s a very stable molecule. That’s why it’s so common around the world. It’s flavor is, along with every other one of its essential characteristics, unchanged so long as the salt molecule is intact. So how can salt lose its flavor?
Well salt, described as it’s just been described, is incapable of losing its flavor. But that’s not the relationship many people had with salt two thousand years ago. The salt they used was not as refined as the salt we use today. In fact, there were times when there was a significant percentage of other undissolveable minerals combined with the salt that people were using.
Many people kept their salt in small cloth sacks and it was common for them to add salt to water by just immersing the sack in the water. One can easily imagine a situation where, if an inferior grade of salt was being used in this way, there would come a time when “salt” was still in the bag but it was no longer salty because the sodium chloride had all been dissolved away.
Jesus, in this text, is using salt as a metaphor for having a loving, kind and generous attitude toward one another. In fact, we’re still on the topic of not behaving in ways that will cause the vulnerable people around us to stumble in their relationship with God. It seems to me that Jesus is even suggesting that his disciples will be tested to see if they have the salt of loving kindness and gentle care toward his sheep that they ought to have. The mention of destruction by fire for those without the salt tells that this is a matter that’s very important to Jesus.
Friends, we need to ask Jesus to add the salt of his love to our hearts.