Like the Angels

Like the Angels

23 The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, 24 saying: “Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 25 Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. 26 Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. 27 Last of all the woman died also. 28 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.”

Matthew 22:23-28

The Sadducees really knew how to make a question. They told a whole tragic story of a poor woman who had to marry seven brothers who all died and left no kids. All of this was done to try and trap Jesus into saying something that would create problems for him. As always, Jesus had the perfect answer.

29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.

Matthew 22:29-30

Jesus says two painful things here at the beginning. You don’t know the scriptures or the power of God. What a thing to say to master religious leaders yet it was true. They were looking at heaven through human eyes. They could not fathom the power or creativity of God. He then says that in the resurrection we will be like the angels. This statement has created many theories and beliefs. Some say that we will be sexless, neither male nor female in heaven but that doesn’t work because God created humans male and female. Others say we simply don’t marry which is very possible but actually misses the point. The key is in saying that we will be like the angels. In truth we know very little about angels. We know there are seraphim and cherubim. We know they can fly, transform and be invisible. We know they live in heaven and can move very quickly but most importantly we know they work for God. In fact the word angel simply means ‘messenger’. An angel only does two thing in the Bible- they work for God and praise God. It is these two points that Jesus was trying to emphasize. We will be like the angels in that, these little earthly things we do here will not be in our minds- but only God will be.

Jesus then uses the Bible to show that when God speaks about his children, he speaks in the present as if they all, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still alive. That is because while we’re stuck here in one moment in time, God is in every moment of eternity. He is with them in the past, with us now and with all of us in the future in heaven. God is the God of the living.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

What is Caesar’s?

What is Caesar’s?

15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 

Matthew 22:15-16

It is amazing how we can use biblical ideas, religion and God’s word to try and hurt people. Here the Pharisees were doing just that. They gave Jesus beautiful words to try and trap him. How many times do we do the same?

17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

Matthew 22:17

Then the main reason for their words comes out. They try and use hate of authority and God’s commandments to bring Jesus down. If he sided with Caesar, he would be a betrayer of the Jews. If he sided with the Jews, he would become an enemy of the state and be jailed or killed. It seemed like there was no good solution but Jesus is wiser than man.

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Matthew 22:18-21

Jesus refused to be trapped and refused to create an enemy. He neither went against Caesar or the Jews. He really became neutral to the situation. He refused to join everything together. There were earthly things, and he followed those but also God’s things and he followed those.

We must learn to be more like Jesus. We so often try and create enemies, thinking that it makes us righteous. It does not. Jesus never intentionally tried to create enemies, mostly for the fact that he was trying to save the very people others were trying to hate.

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Matthew 22:22

Jesus will never fall into a human trap and there is no reason for you to fall as well. Let the wisdom of God and his word guide you into being like Christ.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

The Wedding

The Wedding

“The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.

Matthew 22:2-3

Weddings are often used by God to express the relationship and bond he wants with us. Here God is represented as an earthly king who is arranging a marriage for his son, which would be Jesus. Sadly, those who were invited refused to attend. What a sad illustration of the rejection of the Jews to Jesus.

Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.

Matthew 22:4-6

The king sacrifices so much to create the perfect wedding, which would be free for all, but still the guests refuse, preferring to go to their own homes and even work. Others take it a step further and actually mistreat the servants and even kill them. It seems like an impossible story and yet it’s exactly what we read in the Bible. The prophets and servants of God were often killed by God’s own people.

But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

Matthew 22:7

Here we get to the middle of the parable. The king is clearly good but he does have limits. He will not simply look away as his servants are being unjustifiably killed and mistreated. The king passes his judgement and killed the murderers and burned their cities to the ground.

I always find it amusing when we read the Bible and see God as the bad guy or violent one. It’s amazing how blinded we can be and one sided when we read the Bible. Does God allow violent and destructive acts in the Bible? Yes. Does he himself order destruction and death? Yes. But that is always seen only after an insupportable amount of forgiveness and patience.

The Bible isn’t lying when it says that God is love, not even in the Old Testament. Read through it again but with an open mind and you’ll see that love.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

The Cornerstone

The Cornerstone

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?

Matthew 21:42

The cornerstone was a special stone that would be chosen for a new construction. It would be the first stone to go on the foundation and many people would do a sacrifice on the stone so that the building would be strong. It was thought that, much like the foundation, the cornerstone would carry the weight of all the stones that would be put on top and around.

Jesus is our cornerstone. It’s very sad that this text says and indeed prophesied that God’s people would reject Jesus. Jesus wasn’t the stone they were looking for. They wanted a leader who would be violent and powerful, who would topple the Roman government and make them the new superpower on earth. Instead they saw a cornerstone that was more focused on forgiveness, peace and love. They didn’t believe such a weak looking stone could hold anything up. How they were wrong.

What looked like a weak stone was able to topple a government much greater and more evil than Rome. Jesus toppled Satan’s reign and sin itself. Jesus wasn’t just trying to build a human country but a heavenly one. In truth, there is nothing weak about Jesus.

43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”

Matthew 21:43-44

We must fall on this stone or in other words we must submit out wills and persons to Jesus. We must let him be our foundation and strength. We must not try and be our own strength. Falling on his breaks us but only so that God can rebuild us anew. This is a scary proposition but a necessary one to truly receive the salvation he offers.

In the same way Jesus sacrificed himself for us, we must sacrifice our own wills to him.


God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

The Landowner

The Landowner

33 “Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. 34 Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit.

Matthew 21:33-34

The parable of the landowner is probably one of the most violent and least masked parables of Jesus. It is a shocking truth of God’s people throughout history and how they violently mistreated God’s workers and his institution. In contrast, the landowner is seem as loving, meticulous and pure. The way he prepared the vineyard with everything it would need to prosper shows us how much God wants to improve and grow his church. His only apparent mistake is hiring others to take care. Those unfortunately represent us. He put the importance of his church in human hands and what was the result?

35 And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them.

Matthew 21:35-36

The servants represent the prophets who went to God’s people to try and steer them to God, only to have them be killed and beaten. Prophets rarely are accepted even to this day. But the story gets worse when the landlord comes up with a new idea.

37 Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.

Matthew 21:37-39

Here we have Jesus talking about himself. He knew what was in store for himself. He knew the evil that rested in men’s hearts, even those claiming to be sons of God. The son is killed outside of the vineyard just as Jesus is killed just outside of the city of Jerusalem. How painful must it have been for Jesus to tell this parable?

40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” 41 They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.”

Matthew 21:40-41

And the story ends with the Jews condemning themselves. May we be different in our days…


God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

The Two Sons

The Two Sons

28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’

Matthew 21:28

Jesus could take a mundane aspect of life and create a huge lesson from it. Here’s a simple story about a father and his two sons. The father asks his sons to work in his vineyard. This is something that in one way or another happens every day. The response from the two sons is also very common.

29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go.

Matthew 21:29-30

One son speaks in the moment and says no but later regrets his decision and attitude and does it. The second, trying to be nice says yes, but his true nature comes out and he ends up doing nothing. How many people have changed their minds in this world? So far there’s nothing to be amazed about but then Jesus asks a simple question.

31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”

Matthew 21:31

It is with this question that the story opens wide open. Because we often make these decisions, like the two sons, we take for granted the lesson that can be learned. Who did the father’s will? What a powerful question. Simply saying yes is meaningless. Words without action are meaningless. Yet, how often do we do just that? How many times do we speak nice words, pretend to be nice people, but our true character is shown in our actions?

They said to Him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.

Matthew 21:31

Jesus really drives it home by bringing up the most hated people to the Jews and saying that they have a better chance at heaven than the smooth talking religious leaders.

Let us all look at our lives and see if our nice words match our actions. Do we really want to be behind harlots and tax collectors too?


God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

The Fig Tree

The Fig Tree

18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.

Matthew 21:18-19

I love figs. It looks like Jesus liked them too. On one of his travels between towns he saw a fig tree in the distance and, being hungry, you can imagine a smile on his face as he walked towards it to eat. That smile quickly disappeared when he realized that while it had big beautiful leaves, it was void of any fruit.

Out of nowhere, that stricture angrier face of Jesus was shown. Not seeing any fruit, Jesus cursed the tree to never bear fruit again and it instantly withered away.

Jesus often used plants and farming in his parables. Often we are the plants in the story and the fruit is the fruit of the Spirit. In another parable, the farmer gave the fruit tree one more season to bear fruit. If it didn’t, he would cut it down. In this event however, Jesus makes the tree wither right away.

In this event, Jesus makes a different illustration however, possibly because of the questioning disciples.

20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?” 21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Matthew 21:20

Instead of putting humanity as the plant, Jesus puts us in his shoes. If you have what I have, you will be able to do the same and even more than this. What an amazing promise from Jesus! And what is it that Jesus had that we too can have? Faith!

Whatever we ask in prayer with the condition of faith and believing can be a life changing part of your life. Throughout our lives we try and develop who we are, growing in knowledge, strength and character. Don’t forget faith. With faith in our God, all things are possible.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

iCleansing the Temple

iCleansing the Temple

12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.

Matthew 21:12

This is not the usual image that we think of with Jesus. We usually see him as a kind, gentle, loving soul. Here he is powerful and forceful. If nothing less, this story shows the more complex and complete view of who exactly Jesus was. Let’s not forget that it is Jesus who is connected to the ultimate judgement of the world and sin. He is loving yes, but also a judge.

The second thing we see here is Jesus’ love for his church. It took see wrongdoing in the Temple to bring out the forceful and some could even say violent side of Jesus to come out. Seeing his Temple being reduced to store or for-profit establishment was too much for him. It was a very physical representation of what many Jews had done within their own hearts. God was put into a secondary role, if not worse.

13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”

Matthew 21:13

‘My house…’ What a powerful statement Jesus made. The Temple was not owned by the priests or even the Jews. The Temple was God’s and still is God’s. This is something that we today must always keep in mind. God’s church is not ours. Yes, maybe our tithes and offerings build it and keep it running, but again, is it really your tithes and offerings?

We cannot fall into the same hole and trap that the Jews did. We must never lose sight as to the purpose of the church here on earth. It is not a social or private club. It exists because the world is full of people who are lost and confused. It should be a light and a help to anyone who is in need. It should be more focused on those outside of the church than those inside.

Look at the result of Jesus driving out the money and profit focused people in the Temple.

14 Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.

Matthew 21:14

With profit and self out of the way, the Temple was now ready to give sight to the blind and strength to the lame. With a simple, yet forceful act from Jesus, the Temple had returned to be what it was designed for.

All churches can follow in this direction. Let our church truly be God’s church.

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto

The Triumphal Entry

The Triumphal Entry

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”

Matthew 21:1-3

The triumphal entry of Jesus is a very interesting part of Jesus’ ministry. It was prophesied in the Old Testament and so had to happen.

All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ” So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them.

Matthew 21-4-7

What is strange about this story is the ending. People were excited. Everyone was ready for a new king but Jesus had very different plans.

And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” 11 So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Matthew 21:8-11

Just when everything seemed to be going right Jesus does something that no one expected. He created a whip with cords and began to drive out the animals from the Temple.

What was the purpose then of the entrance? It must be more than simply fulfilling a prophecy?

When I read it, I see God making it very clear what was in the hearts of his people. They were more than ready to get a new king and defeat Rome and take their place as rulers of the world. They were anxious for power and authority and to escape bondage. What they weren’t ready for was to clean up their spiritual lives. They wanted to continue in their halfhearted worship of God, worshiping in their own way and not His. Can we sometimes be thinking the same way?

God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto



21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

Matthew 18:21

How many times do we arrogantly go to God saying or doing something we think is above and beyond? Peter thought he was being an ultimate human being by suggesting forgiveness up to seven times. We often shake our heads at Peter in this story but in real life, from a human standard, he actually was been very generous. Most people don’t give others a second chance or possibly a third. Forgiving someone seven times is a lot.

When God is put in the picture however, seven becomes nothing. How many times has God forgiven you in your life? How many times has he forgiven you just this week or even today? If seven was an adequate amount we all would be very lost.

22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Matthew 18:22

Here Jesus greatly multiplies the number seven, not because this is the actual number of times we should forgive but as a lesson to show that we have to learn and grow to greatly multiply what we think God asks from us. Jesus is saying that forgiveness must be given a much greater role and importance in what we think of as a Christian. He is also showing us how God sees forgiveness, and thank God for that.

For God, there really is no limit to the number of times He can forgive. The limit is actually set by us and the amount of times we feel like we deserve forgiveness. Those who no longer receive forgiveness from God are those who have given up and no longer seek it or convince themselves that God will no longer forgive them. The truth however is that, even as the thief on the cross, God is willing to forgive even in our last moments of life and choice.

How can we develop our level of forgiveness to others? We do this by looking at God level for us. If God, a king, can forgive us for so much, how can we not forgive the smaller infractions done by those around us? That is the parable lesson in Matthew 18:23-34 which I’ll let you read on your own.

The last verse is the most important for us.

35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Matthew 18:35

God will judge and forgive us based on our own level of forgiveness of others. That can be a terrifying prospect. It should also be a great motivator to change ourselves.


God bless,

Pr. Steven Couto