In this lesson from Matthew 5:13-14, kids will learn how Jesus wants his followers to live.
Jesus thrived on imagery. Throughout His ministry, He used parables, analogies, and metaphoric depictions to emphasize His points. Some of these comparisons deal with how Christians should be, or what we ought to be like. This lesson highlights one of those pictures in order to make some important statements about Christian life and attitude.
Lesson focus: Christians are called to change things in the world and point the way to Jesus; we can impact the world for Christ in amazing ways when we follow Him.
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th Grade (adaptable older or younger)
Materials Needed: Various types of salt (table salt, Kosher, rock salt etc.), sugar, glue, paper; examples of lighting (candle, flashlight, etc.); Bibles.
Lesson Opening: Salty or not?? Play a couple of salty guessing games to start off…
-Offer students two glasses of water, one of which (secretly) contains salt and the other does not. Challenge students to taste them and see what seems different.
-Invite students to sample a white powder, which may be (set ahead of time) sugar or salt. Discuss the obvious differences.
-Sample a few types of salt (Himalayan sea salt, Kosher salt, rock salt, iodized…). Explore flavor variations among these.
What is so great about salt? After this salty introduction, explain to students that today we will talk about an illustration Jesus gave to show us how Christians should be in the world. Prior to reading the passage, remind students of how Jesus would often use parables (stories) or comparisons to explain things to people. Today we will look at an illustration that describes us as salt…
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. –Matthew 5:13-14
Salt? Really? Obviously, we are not turning into literal salt like Lot’s wife…but salt actually has some amazing properties. It used to be used as currency, valued like gold for all of its uses. It can also be a preservative—salt kept things fresh before refrigeration came around. It can alter chemistry in cooking and even keep roads from freezing.
But we normally appreciate it most in modern times for its flavor. Salt can change things for better or worse, and make a tremendous difference! This is what Jesus refers to here. As Christians, we want to have an impact on other people, flavoring them, saving them, and changing the world. Jesus continues the analogies, though, by comparing us to light…
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. –Matthew 5:14-20
Most students are familiar with the song “This Little Light of Mine” (if not, this might be a great time to teach or re-visit it!). That song refers to the light we have as Christians. If we somehow huddle inside our own faith and do not share it with others, it is useless. Hold up a candle (lit or not). Does a candle lose any of the flame by lighting another candle? No! But when one is burning, it is able to start others and light up a whole room. It doesn’t take much light to see, whether by candle, flashlight, or otherwise.
So now we see a conclusion of sorts to what Christ is teaching. He explains that he does not want to necessarily destroy status quo or go against authority…but if that is what it takes to establish His kingdom, He will do what is needed. Our responsibility as “light shiners” is to share light…love and presence and purity, shining in a dark world.
How can we do this? Discuss with students how we might communicate or demonstrate that we are a light unto others.
Make a salty scene…allow students to choose a paper and decorate it. Add glue to spots that they wish to be more textured or raised, and sprinkle salt over those areas. When dry, the salt will be raised and bumpy…Add a label or caption with the verse. Extra designs or decoration can be affixed as timing dictates.
Close with prayer and thank God for allowing us to be His salt and light to the world. Ask for further ways of spreading and sharing His love to all.