Hidden within Jesus’ teaching on salt and light is this little statement, recorded in Matthew 5:14: “A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”
In the literary and symbolic contexts, Christ is obviously emphasizing the idea of his people living faith-lives out in the open, like light that shines and fills a house. But he also may have had a more literal meaning, rooted in the geography of ancient Galilee.
Bible historians tell us that within the region of Galilee at the time of Jesus there was a small town called Safed. (In fact, Safed still exists today—now a few millennia old.) This little town sits at the top of a mountain and, in fact, is part of the mountain range from which Jesus delivered this famous Sermon on the Mount.
“The city of Safed is visible day or night,” reports theologian, R.T. Kendall. “Whether it is the same little city that Jesus had in mind, I don’t know. But Safed is two thousand years old and certainly could have been the same city Jesus had in mind.”
Perhaps, as he was expounding on salt and light, Jesus motioned toward Safed as a visual object lesson to illustrate his point, “A city on a hill cannot be hidden…”
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