WELCOME back to Matthew.
News Flash: We’re about to end. Four more talks and we’re done.
And during these last four talks, I’ll keep reminding you of the big message of Matthew’s Gospel: Jesus is an Upside-Down King building an Upside-Down Kingdom.
Why is Jesus an upside-down King?
Think about it: His throne is His Cross; His crucifixion is His coronation; His execution is His exaltation.
Today, I want to preach the message, Protect your Kiss.
Warning about our readings today: As Catholics, we tend to easily zone out when we read again how Jesus was arrested and tried, blah, blah, blah— because we’d read these before. Especially during Holy Week.
But I ask you to read like it’s the first time.
You’ll be surprised at what you’ll discover.
And I pray that God will speak to you in a fresh way.
What Does a Kiss Mean?
Why would Judas kiss Jesus? Why not a hi-five? Or a fist bump? Just kidding. Granted, they didn’t do those gestures 2000 years ago– but why not a wave or a handshake or even a hug? Or point to Him and say, “Jesus!”
Why specifically a kiss?
Bible scholars think it has something to do with Psalm 2. Psalm 2 is the Psalm about the Messiah, the Anointed One, the coming King. And 2:12 (NIV) says:
Since Jews knew those verses by heart, it’s very possible that Judas used the kiss as an ironic insult. Perhaps, the same way the Roman soldiers, a few verses later, would crown Jesus with thorns and kneel before Him in mockery and say, “Hail! King of the Jews!” (27:29 NLT)
Here’s my guess.
Jesus is asking us:
Yes, we pray. And go to church.
But does that mean we actually obey Jesus?
That’s why early in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said:
Fake or Faithful
May I give a rough analogy?
One day, after The Feast, a woman walked up to me and said, “Brother Bo, I follow you on Instagram (IG) and I see how romantic you are to your wife. My husband is like you. He loves giving me flowers. He likes telling me he loves me. And because he’s a singer, he likes serenading me…”
As she was telling me this, I knew there was something wrong. Because I saw deep sadness in her eyes.
She continued, “But Brother Bo, a long time ago, I knew it was all fake. Because three times, I caught him with another woman.”
That’s the day when it dawned on me that romance and love are two different things. Both are important, but one more than the other.
A kiss is a symbol. In the same way that all our prayers and worship and novenas and Bible studies are symbols. But underneath them all, what do they mean? Do they still symbolize your love for God?
Let me say it again: “Protect your kiss.” Later on, we’ll meet a few folks who lost the purity of their kiss.
Put Your Sword AwayLet’s continue reading our main story…
We find ourselves in this story right now where Judas had just kissed Jesus on the cheek.
And, you know, it was a stolen kiss. Usually, stolen kisses are unacceptable in most societies. Some even consider it to be a form of sexual harassment. Unless, of course, you know, it’s your crush who kissed you. Then it’s no longer a harassment. It’s an agreement between two parties, right?
Anyway, for the next few minutes, here’s what I want you to do. I want to talk to you about this topic: The Power of Intention. I want you to turn your Bible to Matthew Chapter 26:50. Here, Jesus happens to be talking to the Roman soldiers who were about to apprehend Him and then Jesus says: Matthew doesn’t identify who this swordman was. But we find out in John 18:10 that it was actually Peter. Now, quick question: Why in the world was Peter– a peace-loving, gospel-preaching, kingdom-building disciple—why was he carrying a sword to begin with? He’s a disciple of Jesus. Why was he carrying a weapon?
I don’t know. Maybe it’s because, you know, Judea was infested with thieves and snatchers. You know, not the motorcycle kind, but the donkey-riding kind, right? I don’t know—most probably…
But you know, one thing’s for sure…
Here’s the truth: Just because you say you’re a follower of Jesus– you think that you are a disciple of the Lord it doesn’t mean that you will not have a propensity for violence.
You know, there are so many who say they love the Lord —in public. But then in private, when the door is closed, what do they do? They beat their wife and kids. Some of them steal. Some back-stab their friends…
I mean, Peter was not a violent man. He was passionate, yes, but not violent. So, what happened? Peter’s intention somehow disconnected with his action.
Let me say it again: Peter’s intention did not align with his action. Peter’s intention was good. I mean, that much we can deduce. He wanted to protect Jesus. That’s all he wanted to do. But somehow his intention became disjointed from his actions.
Remember this: The right intention does not always guarantee the right execution.
As American inventor Thomas Edison said: So, if your intention is for good, then… your approach, your execution, must also be good. Otherwise, your intention will only lead to a poor outcome. This explains why, although Peter had a good heart, you know, but his good intentions still led him to violence. What would have been the right execution?
Jesus actually showed it to us a few verses before. It says in verse 40, and I quote:
Take a look at this. With one sword Peter was ready to take on a small Roman army ready to arrest Jesus. And yet, before that, Peter could not even pray with Jesus for just one hour. I mean, what does that say to you and me? For one thing, prayer is the best weapon but it is also the most difficult. To trust God is not the easiest thing to do but it’s the wisest thing to do.
Jesus shows us the right approach– is to what? To pray. Because prayer helps ward off temptation. But it also aligns our intention with God’s heart.
But instead of praying with Jesus, what did Peter and the boys do? They dozed off. They fell asleep. There’s a Filipino saying:
In English, fight with a drunkard but never pick a fight with a newly awakened person. I don’t care how good the person is. If you wake me up in the middle of a good dream, I will not hesitate to karate-chop you on the neck. All right? Let me just say it again, all right? Even if you have the right intention but then you’ve got the wrong execution, you will still have poor outcome. What do you need to do? Pray to the Lord often. Jesus says in verse 52:
When Peter used the sword, he accomplished very little. He was able only to slash off one ear. You know what’s more powerful than the sword? God’s Word. The more time you spend with the Lord the more you are aligned with His Word.
And when you’ve got the Word of God with you, I’m telling you, you are armed to pierce the heart of people more than any weapon could. Hebrews 4:12 says:
Give me an “Amen” if you believe that. Oh, that’s right. What’s more powerful than any weapon is the Word of God.
So, let’s use that as a weapon.
Anyway, let’s continue with this story. Jesus says in Verse 53:
Let me say this again:
All the disciples close to Him deserted Him and fled. You know,
I would understand if these people were just an acquaintance of Jesus, or maybe if they were just long-lost relatives visiting Him. But these were the immediate disciples of Jesus. They were part of His family. You know, they witnessed His miracles. They saw Him bring the dead back to life, give sight to blind, and chase away demons. I mean, they even confessed with their own lips that He was the Son of God.
But, you know, truth be told: When push comes to shove, the weak always hits the road. And, this is the truth, my friend. We never really know the true state of our heart until a great trial comes. And then all of a sudden, we need to grapple with it. Even the best of intentions can be shaken by great tribulations.
That’s why it’s so valuable that our heart has roots anchored to the Lord, so that when the storms come, our resilience and faithfulness will not be easily blown away. Amen.
Peter: Sinner or Saint?
What happens next: Verse 57:
You know, I find this so amusing—that Peter was afraid of suffering the same persecution. So, what did he do? He separated himself from Jesus. But then he still followed Him at a distance. To observe, yes? To act as a witness? Could be. But you know a part of me wants to think that it was because Peter wanted to prove to himself that Jesus was actually wrong about him. That he was not a deserter or a denier.
And you know, sometimes when we’re caught doing the wrong thing, instead of apologizing or repenting, we try to justify it by saying, “Hey, my intentions are good, my heart is good.”
We become so defensive about it. You know, we don’t have to be that way around Jesus.
Let me tell you now: We can come to Him with our shame and then we can ask for His mercy just the same.
All right, Verse 59:
You know, in these modern times, they would call this a Kangaroo Court. This happens when those who are in charge are the ones who are also bending the law to fit their personal agenda. Matthew said that the members of the High Council were trying to find witnesses who would “lie” about Jesus.
The Way To Live
But then the continuation of Verse 59 says:
I want you to listen to this, all right. This is the remarkable testimony on the integrity of Jesus—that even when He wasn’t liked by many, by some, it was difficult for the Council to convince anybody who was willing to give a lie about the character of Jesus. You know, if anything, this should encourage us even more to follow Jesus.
Let me show you this example: Duke Ellington, one of my musical inspirations when I was growing up was a famous jazz singer in the early 1920s—and no, I wasn’t born in the ‘20s, okay? I just happened to have an old soul. He said a beautiful testimony about his fellow jazz singer Louie Armstrong who wrote and sang the beautiful song What a Wonderful World.
And I quote what Duke said about Louie:
What a beautiful way to live your life. Don’t you agree? Here’s my advice, coming from that quote: Strive to do the right things every day. You know, do good, work hard—do your thing. Get yourself out there– but be honest. Don’t lie. Don’t hurt anybody deliberately.
And, at the end of the day, when things don’t go your way, remember that you didn’t lose– because in the eyes of God you actually won. What did you win? You won your dignity. You won your integrity. You won your honesty. Ultimately, you won your soul.
You know, if you could live an honest life, a life filled with compassion and kindness, and love—without hurting anybody along the way– no one can lie about who you are, about your character. And if, for some reason, you know, if somebody would be willing to give a false testimony about you, you can trust that God will be the One to acquit and reward you. Amen.
When You Know the Truth
That’s actually what happened in the trial of Jesus. Eventually they were able to find two men who would lie about Him.
I want you to take note of the patience of Jesus right now. Jesus could have mounted a magnificent defense in the opening argument of the High Council. Instead, He remained silent. Why?
Because Jesus knew the truth. When you know the truth, you will have the courage to withstand any lie. Why? Because your intentions are clear. Your conscience is clear. You know that God’s justice will defend you. That God’s justice is always exact and never late.
As Jesus said it in Verse 64:
I mean, my goodness. The Defendant turned out to be the Judge.
You know, my friend, be careful when you judge people. Because there is only One Judge. And make no mistake, He is seated at the right hand of God. And He will come to judge all of us in the proper time. Let’s read Verse 65:
This is what we’ve been discussing all this time: Intention. You know, to the High Council, perhaps, their intention was good. They thought they were protecting the Church by prosecuting this “blasphemer”. But you know their intention was clouded by sin and fueled by hatred. Good intention might have made them Church leaders but the wrong execution may reduce them to mere thugs— you know, street bullies who took advantage of a helpless and defenseless man.
I want you to remember this. They started with good intention at one point in their life. You know, they made a sincere vow to serve God with all of their heart. But then sadly, their intention was clouded over time with pride and slowly their ego took over.
I want to share with you, and close, with this personal story. I shared this at The Feast many times. I did a personal vlog about this one.
There was a time when I actually started a vlog. I called it Audiebles – Audie…bles—you get it. I wanted to use it as a platform to bless and encourage people– by giving a good message, a positive message.
I started with a very good intention. And I got to about eight episodes when I noticed something… All of a sudden, I noticed that the moment I posted a vlog – on Instagram, Facebook– I kept on checking my phone– again and again–you know, to see how many liked my post, who commented on it.
And, you know, at first, it was a source of joy. Let me be honest: It was a source of joy. Wow, so many were blessed by my message. But then, over time, it started to be a source of anxiety– How come this vlog got only 1,500 views but the other one got 3,000 views?
I mean, I started questioning: Was my message not any good? Am I not any good? And you know, that’s what I knew… and this is just me, all right? This is just me– I knew that my heart changed. My intention was to let people draw closer to the Lord through my message. But then, I found that it was becoming more and more about myself and lesser about God. So, you know what I did? I stopped– you know– cold turkey. No hesitation. No regret. I just stopped.
What’s Most Important
Here’s my belief… You can quote me on this: It’s not what you do that’s important. It’s why you do it. That’s the most important.
Why? Because God is more concerned about the why more than the what.
This brings us now to a full circle on the message that Bro. Bo preached: Protect your kiss.
Did you know that your kiss is one of the most personal and prized gifts that you can give to somebody?
Think about it. I mean, you know, you cannot kiss someone by accident, right? I mean there’s no such thing as landing on someone’s face accidentally, right? When you give away your kiss, it’s intentional. It’s deliberate. And what you’re doing is that you’re actually giving your consent for somebody to kiss you back.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. And I know there will be a lot of romantic moments for many of you. Okay. But before you give your most precious kiss, check if your heart is in the right place. That’s how you protect your kiss.
Let me share something to you that I found on the Internet. This made me laugh so much. It’s in Tagalog—okay, I’m not going to translate it. It’s a conversation between two persons: a wedding coordinator and a lady who is inquiring about a wedding that she was going to have.
And it goes like this:
It’s funny. But this is just evidence that sometimes we are so quick in giving what’s precious to us. Let me just repeat this — again and again: Whoever you allow into your personal spaces will occupy a special space your heart.
So, I encourage you to always evaluate your reasons. Ask yourself: “Why? Why will I allow this person into my life?”
But, of course, you know, let’s be honest: You probably will not be able to discern that on your own. Because on your own, you know your heart can be fickle and playful. Sometimes your heart will try to convince you –especially if you like that person. What do you do?
Share your thoughts with the Lord. Expose your temptations to Him. Share your failure. Share your confusion. Share your weak points. I mean, just be vulnerable in the presence of God.
You can even do what Paul did.
Because the truth is, it is easy to lose the purity of your heart especially when you’re not watching it. But the power of Christ– it can put your heart always in the right place.
Let’s pray. Let’s come in the presence of the Lord right now.
Thank You so much, Jesus. We thank You, Lord, for this message and we want You to do a spiritual surgery in our heart right now. Set it off right now in the right motion and cleanse us, Lord, of whatever wrong motivation inside us. But then also teach us to execute in the right way. We want our heart to be clean but we want our actions to be cleaner. This is our prayer, in Jesus’s Name.