Xerxes, son of Darius, ruler of Persia and would be conqueror of Greece, was also saddled with the Israelites who had been dragged from their homeland first in 722 BC by the Assyrians, then in 586 BC by the Babylonians. Among that second group was young Mordecai who became God’s favorite prophet. When King Cyris of Persia defeated Babalyon in 539 BC, the king also took over rule of the captured people.
Some fifty years later when Xerxes needed a new queen, God arranged through Mordecai for Hadassah/Ester to be in the process and to be chosen. As queen, Ester was able to spoil a plot by Haman to kill all Israelites and thus save her people.
The importance of the story is that Xerxes, who was not an Israelite, was the man who issued the commands to save all of Israel. As Jesus said, Anyone who isn’t against us is for us. TLB
This notion is a stumbling block for many Christians. We like to think that it is us against the world, that non-Christians are all evil and incapable of doing good. We easily forget that we are all sinners. The difference between us and them is the Grace we have decided to accept.
God wants all of us to do good deeds. If He chooses to reward someone I do not like, that is His business. Having God in charge of dispensing Grace has its problems; He lets too many people get into our exclusive club. Our sign at the door of Heaven would read: Sinners Do Not Enter, but God insists on putting up the Sinners Welcome sign.
Verse 49 seems an awkward statement sandwiched between 48 and 50. One of the problems is that the various Greek manuscripts have many different wordings. I have two interlinear New Testaments which print the Greek text on one line and the most likely English equivalent words just below. The United Bible Society version reads: For everyone with fire will be salted. But the Trinitarian Bible Society version reads: For everyone with fire will be salted, and every sacrifice with salt will be salted. Both are correct as far as anyone knows today.
Methodius, writing about 300 AD, described the Temple practice in Jesus’ day when every offering made before God had to have salt added, even the wine. Methodius wrote, Now the whole spiritual meditation of the scriptures is given to us as salt which stings in order to benefit. Without this disinfection, it is impossible for a soul, by means of reason, to be brought to the almighty. ACCS
I think that is getting close to what Jesus meant. Salt was used on all sacrifices to purify any remaining possibility of corruption. The salt in Jesus’ blood will do that for us before we stand before the Throne in the New Jerusalem.
Ephrem the Syrian wrote about 37 AD:
Glory be to God on high,
Who mixed his salt in our minds,
His leaven in our souls.
His body became bread,
To quicken our deadness. ACCS
Be righteous and do good.