Thank you for inviting me again. Last year, I think we reflected on how our Lord Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday instead of a horse.
However, this Passion Week reminded me of an old painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples. Some years ago, I realised with surprise that Leonardo knew of an important Hebrew Salt Covenant in the Bible that was reflected in this famous work. The clue came when one asked who is Judas in the picture. Judas is normally identified as the 4th person from the left. Why? Note there is spilled salt in front of this person.Two Scriptures on Salt Covenant can be found in Leviticus 2:13: Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings. 2 Chronicles 13:5 : Don't you know that the LORD, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt?
How was the Covenant of Salt practised in ancient times?
In the past, it was customary for men to wear a pouch of salt tied to their belts. In the olden days, a man’s spoken words were highly valued and had to be kept at all costs. If there is any importance in their words of contract or promise, they will exchange salt. So grains of salt would become one when mixed together.
What if the men want to break the contract?
One would have to retrieve one’s grains of salt from each pouch and return them. Of course, this is an impossible task.
Hence it was understood the Salt Covenant is for eternity; it symbolises loyalty and honesty of a friendship that cannot be broken. In ancient times, men would pay special attention to when and where they ate … certainly no passing of salt containers. Salt may also represent blood and life. It was envisioned as dangerous to give away salt to a stranger lest one put one’s life in the power of the enemy.
In Matthew 5:13 (Luke 14:34-35), Jesus said if we lose our saltiness, we are worthless; He is effectively saying we break our Salt Covenant with Him. When Christians break our covenants, the world no longer sees a covenant-keeping God. Instead they may see a religious social club, a powerless church without God.
The Psalmist once said: (Psalm 25:12 -14) Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD ? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him. He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. The LORD confides in those who fear Him; He makes His covenant known to them.
But when did we Christians make Covenant with Lord Jesus ?
At the Holy Communion table in church where we remember our Lord, Jesus. There is salt in the bread as it is used to inhibit the yeast during breadmaking. Without salt, the yeast will go wild consuming all the sugar that may be available in the dough from enzymatic activity.
1 Corinthians 11:25-17: In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
Leonardo Da Vinci seems to cast Judas as a spiller of salt who abuses his friendship with Jesus. John 15:15: I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
A final thought.
Many years ago, I was naïve to wonder why this week is called Passion Week … what is so passionate or romantic about Jesus' crucifixion? Then I realised that passion is the Latin word for suffering. Every person can be Jesus’ friend by believing in His resurrection at Easter.
Keep in touch, God bless you and your family with good health and an enjoyable Easter.
Do leave a comment below if you wish. Thank you.