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The Symbolism of Salt in the Sermon on the Mount

The Symbolism of Salt in the Sermon on the Mount

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ tells his followers that they “are the salt of the earth,” but if the salt loses its flavor, “it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out.”

As much as we love our sodium intake today, the symbolism of salt has deep meaning in the ancient Jewish culture and would have been even more relevant to the culture and religious practices of the time. While there are many interpretations to be drawn, here are a few we found especially poignant.

The Covenant of Salt

Salt was an essential preservative and often referenced in scripture and Mosaic rituals as a symbol of remembrance and preservation. This is most clearly seen in relation to sacred covenants.  Both Numbers 18 and 2 Chronicles mention “a covenant of salt.” The term salt was a direct reminder that a covenant is something that needs to be actively preserved.

As “the salt of the earth,” we have the privilege of unprecedented access to the saving and exalting ordinances of God. However, if we do not actively work to honor those covenants, we lose their power and protection.

Endure is another word to use in conjunction with preservation in terms of modern-day applications. God’s covenants are enduring. All we love and cherish endures into eternity because of Jesus Christ. By making and keeping covenants, we are able to utilize that power more prominently in our life.

The Contamination of Salt

Elder Carlos E. Asay, while serving as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, shared some interesting facts on how salt loses its savour. Namely, that it only occurs through contamination.

“A world-renowned chemist told me that salt will not lose its savor with age. Savor is lost through mixture and contamination. Similarly, priesthood power does not dissipate with age; it, too, is lost through mixture and contamination…Flavor and quality flee a man when he contaminates his mind with unclean thoughts, desecrates his mouth by speaking less than the truth, and misapplies his strength in performing evil acts.”

Christ was clear that salt becomes useless when it loses its savour. If savour is literally lost through contamination, then we symbolically lose savour in our souls through the contamination of transgression and sin.

By remaining true, we can bring the light of Jesus Christ to the world, effectively adding so much more to the bland truths of a fallen world.

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