In the ninth chapter of Mark’s gospel we find these two interesting comments:
“Everyone will be salted with fire.”
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
First, Jesus is mixing his metaphors in these sayings. The word, salt, does not have the same meaning in both sentences.
Second, It helps to have a bit of an understanding of the Jewishness of these sayings. One Jewish understanding of salt is “suffering.” Salt is connected to the Jewish practice of sacrifice. The priest poured salt on the lamb as it was being burned up in the sacrificial fire. To follow Jesus is to suffer. If you want to be spared from suffering, don’t follow Jesus. Following Jesus means salt will be rubbed into your wounds.
The other Jewish understanding of salt is relationship, or in theological speak, covenant. When Jesus says we should share the salt, he means be good company to each other because there will be a time when you will need each other when you face the salt in the fire of suffering.
“Please, pass the salt.”
Ronald Friesen © 2015