betrayal

Betrayal

19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. 20 When
evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. 21 Now as they were eating, He
said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” 22 And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?”

Matthew 26:19-22

As Jesus was with his disciples for the last night, he created a last supper for them. It wasn’t by
accident that it also fell on Passover as that feast pointed towards this very moment. This would
be Jesus’ goodbye, at least until he came back from the dead.

In Matthew, the first words of Jesus are very strange. ‘Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will
betray me.’

It’s not exactly a happy or uplifting statement. It’s not exactly the tone one would normally start
to say goodbye. Perhaps this was a bit of Jesus’ human pain coming through. Perhaps this truth
pained his heart, not even so much for the betrayal but for what the betrayal would do to the
betrayer. Jesus could already see Judas being lost in his heart.

What is even stranger than Jesus’ words however, are the words of the disciples themselves! The
Bible makes it very clear that every one of the disciples had the same question:

‘Lord, is it I?’

For someone to first think and then have enough courage to actually ask, shows just how
uncertain they were about themselves. They must have truly thought this a possibility to even
bring it up. They must have recognized just how weak and shakable they were. These were of
course the same men that would in just a few hours run away from Jesus and the soldiers- in
essence betraying him indeed.

How about you? If you were sitting around in that supper, would you have asked Jesus the same
question? How shaky is your commitment and faith in Jesus? Would you also run once you see
soldiers with weapons in their hands to arrest or even kill Jesus and you?

The good news about this story is that even if your answer is yes, your in good company. Jesus’
most faithful were also weak but they didn’t stay that way. Jesus took those doubting men,
thinking themselves able to betray their lord, and turned them into mighty disciples of faith and
courage.

Jesus can do the same to you if you let him. The Spirit is already knocking on your door.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

Feast of Unleavened Bread

Feast of Unleavened Bread

17 Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” 18 And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.” ’ ”

 Matthew 26:17-18

The Feast of Unleavened Bread was one of the Jewish festivals or holy days practiced by the Jews. It was connected with the Passover in that it was the bread that had to be made and eaten quickly as Israel would quickly have to leave Egypt.

For seven days the Jews would have to eat unleavened bread to remember the salvation of God from Egypt. The bread was also called the Bread of Affliction, Deuteronomy 16:3, because God’s deliverance from Egypt came at the cost of all the firstborn of Egypt of those who didn’t cover their homes with blood.

To the disciples it was just another ceremony. To Jesus it was much more. Not only had he been there in Egypt when the firstborn died and Israel was set free, he also knew that he would be the sacrifice this time around.

We know this because Jesus himself says in verse 18, ‘My time is at hand.’ Just like the rest of his life here on earth, everything was planned well in advance. He knew that there would be a man in town that would give up his upper room for them. The Bible says that the plan of salvation was all planned out since the beginning of the world. Even before sin existed there was a plan to conquer it.

Your life is also planned out by God. You have the choice to follow it or not but there is a good life in store for you if you trust God and follow Him.

One day, we too will have our own experience of quickly having to leave our homes. As the end approaches, the last days will be filled with its own afflictions. With God however we can be sure that we will have our own salvation as well.

 

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

A Friends Betrayal

A Friends Betrayal

14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. 16 So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.

Matthew 26:14-16

There are few characters within the Bible more despised than Judas Iscariot. This is because he wasn’t someone on the outside. He wasn’t someone that Jesus hurt, let down or betrayed. Judas was a close friend of Jesus. It is that betrayal that really seems to put people off.

In these verses are some details that can lead people to be even more upset with him. Verse 14 says that he went to the priests. 15 says that he asked what they would give him for the betrayal of Jesus. It seems like this was his plan and no one else’s. He wasn’t coerced or bullied into betraying Christ.

Then the amount offered is another insult. Some put it at $100 to $400. Judas, being the one who carried the money for the disciples, probably carried more with him on a regular basis. Did he think so little of Jesus that a price for a slave seemed like a reasonable about for the Messiah?

Then verse 16 says that he actively looked for opportunities to betray him. So this was not a rash decision or something he did after one to many cups of beer. He knew exactly what he was doing and spent much of his time looking for a chance to betray Jesus.

One of the reasons why we despise Judas so much is because we all carry a fear of having a love one betray us. It is one of the most painful experiences to go through in this world. To be betrayed by a friend knocks the foundation from under us. It keeps us from trusting anyone after that.

Unfortunately it does happen. Many times throughout our lives will be disappointed with loved ones. That is because none of us are perfect. We make mistakes and experience mistakes in our lives.

The main point to remember is that, we too can be that betrayer to someone. In the end, the only perfect person was Jesus on this earth. Judas betrayed him, Jesus knowing long before that that was to happen, but he accepted Judas either way. He accepted him, not only to allow what needed to happen to occur but because he truly loved Judas and did all he could to still try and save him. May we learn from Jesus to be just as forgiving to those who betray us.

 

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

My Burial

My Burial

12 For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. 13 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

Matthew 26:12-13

Jesus never seemed to be shy about talking about death and his death in particular. As he understood his purpose here on earth, he knew that his death was a vital part of that. This confuses a lot of non-christians. Why do we follow or worship a killed man or god? That is how many people see it. Jesus was just a man with some clever ideas but who ultimately died thousands of years ago. Some compare him to Buddha or other influential person in history.

We of course know that his death was only a part of his story. We know it wasn’t the end of his story. Just as he promised, he died but rose again. As important as Jesus’ death is, his resurrection is of even more importance because it gives us hope in our own lives after death.

But his death and resurrection was more than just a sign of what could be our future. It was also a door and plan for how we, while still alive can already experience death and resurrection. A real Christian must die to his old self, habits, ideas and path and embrace a new life which follows Christ. That is expressed in the act of baptism. Just this last Sabbath we partook of a baptism at Bronte.

The woman who poured the fragrant oil on Jesus probably didn’t know how Jesus would take her act and use it in expressing his main message. She was simply trying to do something good for Jesus and he probably had done something good for her.

We too can do good things for Jesus. Perhaps not to him directly, but we can help those in the world. We know that Jesus himself said that doing things for others is like doing it to him. We may think it is just a small thing we do, but like this story, we don’t know if Jesus will transform it into something much bigger.

Let us, like Jesus, embrace a new life with him. Let us be new creations that have his love in our hearts. But let us also be like the woman who gave what she could and let Jesus take her actions and transform them.

Like the woman we too may be remembered by an action we do. If nowhere else, you can be sure that in heaven it will always be remembered.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

The Poor

The Poor

10 But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. 11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.

Matthew 26:10-11

Jesus makes a very sad statement in this passage. You could argue it is prophetic in nature though I think that misses the point.

‘For you have the poor with you always’

There will always be the poor on this earth until sin is finally done away with. There will always be inequality, hierarchies, the oppressed and the underprivileged. In the last few years, our current state aside, has been some of the most privileged and abundant in earth’s history.

Never have so many lived so well. We have more millionaires and billionaires than ever before. Inflation was at an all-time low, jobs were plentiful and people were relatively happy. Yet, even with all that, poverty and hunger thrived as well. We had enough food for everyone but people starved. People were taking million dollar vacations into outer space but people still were living on the streets. We could send billions on Olympics and World Cups but people were desperate that they were still selling sons and daughter to try and stay alive.

These last few decades of prosperity has proven Jesus’ words. We will always have the poor.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t help. That doesn’t mean we can’t reduce the pain and suffering in this world, even if it’s just a little bit. We can feed one person and reduce the total number by one. If every Adventist were to help one person, we could help over 18 million people from their misery.

It’s easy to get discouraged by the shear amount of help that is needed but let’s stay focused. Let us help as many as we can. We can do it individually and we can do it collectively. Help those ministries in the church that are helping others. A little help can go a long way.

And of course, when we help someone with their needs, many will also then desire help spiritually as well. That of course was always Jesus’ method.

 

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

Alabaster Flask

Alabaster Flask

And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”

Matthew 26:6-9

When you read through the gospels, you quickly realize that Jesus loved nothing more than to be at a home surrounded by friends and strangers. In these moments he could do more at molding and changing hearts than any large gathering on a hill or by a lake. Here he could connect with individual hearts. He could heal people one on one and then share something greater that anything on this earth.

This is a rare occasion when the tables are turned. Instead of Jesus giving a gift, he receives one. In this chapter, a nameless woman comes to him with an experience box and flask of fragrant oil. For this woman to do this, it is because she had already had an experience with Jesus. He did something in her life that filled her with a desire to give something back. You’ll notice that it never says that the woman was rich but that the gift was. The way that she presents the gift however in humbleness points towards someone who wasn’t rich. What she was giving was beyond her means and yet she still felt compelled to give it.

That response shows a heart that truly has connected with God. It shows someone who not only received the love of God, but who was also filled with it and was compelled to give it out again to those around her. This was a person truly changed and converted. It is this character that we should be desiring to have ourselves.

Instead however and unfortunately, we find ourselves not like this woman but like the men around her. Instead of praising her gift, kindness and love, they mock her and the gift. They claim it is wasted and could have been given to better work.

While her heart was filled with love and gratitude, the men were full of envy, judgement, pride and sin. How many times do we only see the negatives in people actions? How many times do we jump over the kind act and seek out something wrong to judge that person?

Let us strive to have the conversion of this woman with the alabaster flask. May we give humbly and with true love.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

Blinded by Sin

Blinded by Sin

1  Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”

Matthew 26:1-5

In chapter 26 of Matthew we see two groups of people who are blinded because they are sinful human beings.

The first group are the disciples. Although they lived with Jesus, heard all his sermons and witnessed all his miracles, they still were blinded as to his earthly mission. Being raised Jews, and having their eyes and minds clouded by sin, they still believed that the promised messiah was more about destroying Rome and creating a world dominating Israelite nation than cleansing the world and all in it from sin.

It’s interesting that Jesus says, ‘You know’ before clearly saying that he must be sacrificed at the Passover, showing them that he was the Lamb of God. Really he probably should have said, ‘You should know’ because they clearly didn’t. They were too wrapped up in their own lives, goals and dreams to see what God was truly trying to do.

The second group are the priests, elders and scribes. Sin also clouded their vision, thinking themselves as holy, pure and the keepers of God’s word while at the very same time planning on killing a completely innocent man who was also clearly connected with God himself.

When we are in the act of sinning, we lose our vision, even more than usual. We get so caught up in our own pleasures and desires that we don’t even see when we are knee deep in sin and completely against God. Just like the Jewish leaders, we can still see ourselves as these good holy Christians while being completely against God.

Let us go to God and ask to be cleansed. May our eyes be cleared from sin so we can see the world and ourselves as they truly are. If we don’t, we won’t see a need to fix ourselves. We will be covered in sin and not even be able to see it.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

It Was God

It Was God

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Matthew 25:37-40

This is the job of the Christian and the gospel message. Everything we do, we do for Jesus, but we must realize that we do it for Jesus through those who are around us. As a Christian, we want to show God and Jesus just how much we love them but they are all the way up in heaven. The simple solution is what these verses here say.

God sees all of the human race as his children, whom he lost to sin. As children, even lost, he feels and experiences a real connection with them. So when we do good to someone here on earth, Christian or not, we are doing it to Christ.

The opposite is also true.

41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

Matthew 25:41-43

This should really make us double think our actions towards others. Every time we judge of treat someone badly just because they’re different, we are judging God and badly treating him. How many times have we cursed God? How many times have we insulted him?

Let us see the face of Jesus in everyone that we meet. Jesus was caring and loving to everyone he met. He was always trying to save everyone around him. The only exception was for those experts in the law who knew better. Because of their knowledge, he spoke piercing truth to them, and yet even then it was done out of love and for their salvation.

Let us learn from Jesus. Let us see each other as he sees us.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

I was the Stranger

I was the Stranger

33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Matthew 25:33-36

Here is a very powerful few verses that we find in the Bible, and in particular, in the words of Jesus himself. In these verses Jesus is showing us what will be the difference between those who are saved and those who are lost. The saved are seen as sheep and go on his right side with the lost are goats and go to the left.

The first thing you notice is that it is intimately related to God. He will decide who goes where. He is the final judge and there is nothing that either forces his actions or impedes them. Whomever he decides to be saved will be and vice versa.

The second thing is that it comes down to our actions. This might sound strange because we keep saying that we are saved by grace and not works but these words are still true and not in conflict.

The good works of giving food, drink, shelter, clothes and visitation are done to people but God points it to himself. In doing this what he is really saying is that it isn’t the actions themselves that save but the reasoning behind it. It’s the love and connection to God, the relationship, where the salvation truly lies. In other words, doing good things for selfish or wrong reasons does nothing for your salvation but your actions done through righteous and good reasons shows the transformation you have experiences through the Holy Spirit to God.

The third thing you’ll notice is that Jesus doesn’t even mention prayer, church, the bible or other things traditionally connected with religion. No. He instead focusses on the everyday actions of life that should be molded by our experiences we learn and grow from our religious experiences.

May we learn from God and be transformed by the Holy Spirit so that our everyday life and actions may be worthy to be put on God’s right side.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

His Glory and Throne

His Glory and Throne

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 

Matthew 25:31

This is a very strange and unique verse in Matthew. That is because it’s one of the few verses that Jesus speaks about himself without a connection to his father. Usually Jesus spoke about the Father’s glory and about his throne but here Jesus is talking about his own glory and his own throne.

In this verse, the focus is on Jesus. The angels around surrounding him and it culminates with his seating on a glorious throne. This isn’t the Jesus of the first coming. It isn’t a quiet night in Bethlehem or a small manger hidden away. This isn’t the meek and humble Jesus we read about in the Christmas story. This Jesus is a powerful, ruling Jesus. It is a king surrounded by his angels and ready to judge.

32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.

Matthew 25:32

All nations are under this powerful Jesus. All nations are judged. Each individual of all nations will be judged individually. No one will be missed. No one will be left out. Whether you believe in him or not makes no difference. Whether you accept his authority and power changes nothing.

Jesus allowed people to reject him in his first coming. He allowed people to walk away and have nothing to do with him. He allowed his creations to insult, beat and even kill him. That is no longer the case. Now you are under his rule. Now all decisions, good and bad will come to light. True, unbiased, untainted judgement is given out without exception.

God is love, Jesus also, yes, but that doesn’t negate this side of God as well. Judgement is just as much a part of God as love. We must understand and accept all of who God is if we want to be ready for this final day.

 

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto