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Salt: The Gift That Sweetens and Preserves / Lenten Mid-Week

2 Kings 2:19–22

20He said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.” So, they brought it to him. 21Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the Lord, I have healed this water; from now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.”

Isolation brought about by disease or illness (remember the coronavirus) may make us feel lonely, anxious, and depressed. Once most social activities ceased during the pandemic, most of us wanted a vaccine so that life could proceed and people could work, live, and gather. When was the last time you were vaccinated for the flu, tetanus, or shingles? Children are often vaccinated to help their young bodies to fight off rubella, measles, polio, and other bodily diseases.

Salt, is often referred to in the Bible as both a sweetening and preserving agent. Old Testament sacrifices were often salted before being offered, and the prophet Elisha used salt to sweeten bad, undrinkable water for the people of Israel (see 2 Kings 2:19–22). Later in the Bible, Jesus calls you the salt of the earth, meaning that your life tastes like a different drink of water than others. There’s something unique, joyful, and wholesome in the way you speak, live, and act as Paul says in his epistle: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).

Many of the baptismal rites of the Early Church included tasting a tiny bit of salt. Adults who were Baptized as converts after they had renounced the devil and his works and confessed the Apostles’ Creed were given salt before being Baptized. This is one of the reasons why Luther included the use of salt in his earliest writing on Baptismal rites. Salt was a visible and sensible way of reminding the Baptized that their lives are now different and distinct from the world.

Salt, according to Scripture, seasons and sweetens, yet it also preserves and keeps. Salt was such a precious commodity in the lives of ancient people that they kept it everywhere in their homes. In fact, the root of the word salary comes from the Latin word salarium. Soldiers may have even been paid with salt to preserve meat and food to help their families before modern refrigeration was invented.

It was not long after the prophet Elisha succeeded Elijah, he was told that the water in Jericho was so bad and undrinkable that something had to be done. It may have tasted something like well water, which contains lots of iron and minerals. So, Elisha asked for a new bowl and placed some salt in it. Then he threw the salt into the spring, sweetening and refreshing all the water for the people to continue to use and drink.

God healed that dreadful water with salt. Perhaps that enhances what Jesus says in His Sermon on the Mount: “You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” (Matthew 5:13).

What kind of pain are you enduring or suffering now? Is there anything sour, troubling, or unfruitful in your life? Is your personal health compromised? Or are there some bitter or strained relationships with people? Is your employment situation stressful? Life seems to always has it’s sour and bitter experiences, Jesus comes to sweeten, enliven, and refresh you through His healing Word. You are God’s own dear child, Baptized, washed, and salted in Christ. This Lenten walk we should be constantly reminded that Jesus died on Calvary’s cross to vaccinate us completely from sin and eternal death. God isn’t distant but promises to deliver you from all your troubles and to heal those things most broken in your life.

Jesus comes to preserve you and keep you. The ancient people of God often used salt to preserve meat and other food so that it would last much longer. And, of course, we do the same thing with our processed foods. Even when the priests offered grain offerings and burnt offerings, they salted them. This preservation and keeping also took place when God saved you. Yes, Jesus died as the sacrifice on the cross to vaccinate and save you from your diseased life!

As your great High Priest, He was salted and offered up for you, and now Baptized into Him, death holds no power over you. Your life is preserved under the shelter of His wings. Even though this earthly life will end because we get sick and die, your hope is not in this life. Since Jesus rose from the dead-on Easter, your weak, mortal body is promised to be raised as a pure, eternal, spiritual body. That means you are really living a life that is truly preserved forever. This present or temporal death is not eternal death, and that news sweetens life now with renewed joy and purpose.

Sadly, many people still live without hope with zero comfort when someone dies. Therefore, Jesus warns us about losing saltiness. Salt is not within us, but God gives salt to us just as Elisha placed the salt in the water to sweeten the spring for drinking. When a Christian dies, he or she is promised to be with the Lord forever. Because of that, we read words of comfort, dwell on God’s promise of life in Christ, and sing hymns with joy. That’s why Paul says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). Your saltiness literally makes you hopeful, joyful, and appealing to anyone who sees or knows you. Christ’s Word is the source of sweetening and seasoning in life.

Jesus Christ is with you now, sweetening and preserving all your life and those all around you. He promises you a vaccination from eternal death and preserves you now and for eternity. The only way salt is depleted or lost is when we fail to hear God’s Word or receive His Sacraments. Even though life is daily torn by sin, broken relationships, and faltering health, Jesus promises to preserve and keep you and to work all things for your good. He will sweeten all things with renewed hope and purpose! By His resurrection from the dead, you are now sweetening salt, wholesome salt, and preserving salt to all the world. Amen.