Key Number Three: As Though …

And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further[1].

First of all, what an amazing sentence we find here! What a surprising way to speak about the Lord!  There are not many places in the Bible where God pretends – where He acts “as though” He is going to do something. Like everything in this story, this word is extremely meaningful: In our own walk, we mainly see “as though” things – and we cannot know God’s thoughts and God’s heart simply by looking at things which are seen. God loves each one of us and the desire of His loving heart is to reveal Himself and His love to us and to stay with us forever, but for that precise purpose, in order to be with us forever, He often acts “as though”. Do you remember the story of Joseph? In the inner room, invisible to his brother Benjamin, he wept out of love for his brother – and yet, upon leaving this room, he did something completely opposite to what we might expect and what he himself probably longed to do. He washed his face so there would be no trace of his tears of love, he restrained himself … and then – went on with his plan, as though he did not care for Benjamin. It’s difficult to imagine a more graphic or expressive illustration of the difference between the unseen truth – and the visible “as though” things.

The Lord cannot reveal His love until His plan is completed – hence we constantly face “as though” realities.  Lazarus hadn’t read John 11:4:  now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, and when Yeshua didn’t come to heal him, it seemed as though He didn’t care. Job and his comforters didn’t read the heavenly prologue of the book of Job, and everything that happened to Job seemed as though God was punishing him for something he had done. All these stories are “as though” stories – and we find this mystery in the Scripture again and again: the secret of God’s love (Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus[2]), which is hidden within God’s plan (this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God[3]). Isn’t it the same in our lives? So often we feel that the day is far spent and He just went by, went further.  We have to hold to this message of the Emmaus story, we have to remember that this is just a feeling, just an impression: just as though.

However, this is only one part of the message. There is something more that these words teach us.  In fact, this particular Greek verb προσεποιησάμην: make as though, act as if, pretend – occurs only one additional time in the whole Bible: John 8:6, in the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.  “This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.” Why did he act as though he didn’t hear them?  We see the same pattern here: He has a message of love and forgiveness for this woman, but He would not speak to her and reveal this message to her, unless and until His purpose is achieved and His plan is completed. What is the plan, then, and what is the purpose? He is waiting for  the response of the heart. He is testing the hearts of the people around – and he is testing them by this “as though” reality. Although the eyes of these people were still restrained and they did not know who He was, their hearts were clearly experiencing the touch of His Spirit – and being convicted by their own conscience, they went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst[4].  Thus, His test was complete: they acted upon their hearts, not upon their eyes.

Back to our story – What happens there when Yeshua makes as though he would go further?

 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them[5].

They constrained Him – and I want us to understand: this is the only thing in this whole story that they actually chose to do by their own free will. At first glance, it was just a natural human concern: it was toward evening, and the day was far spent. However, we know that later, they would say one to another, “Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?[6] In other words, by this point, their hearts had been burning, they had a sense that their meeting with this ‘stranger’ was not yet over – and when they urged him to stay, they acted upon their hearts, not upon their eyes. It is crucial for us to understand that first, they constrained Him – they asked Him to remain with them (He always wants to stay with us, even if He might act as though He is going past) – and only then, and only for that reason, He went in to stay with them.

It is always like this is in Scripture – God is waiting for the response of our heart.   When the Lord revealed Himself to Moshe in the burning bush, upon seeing this bush, Moshe said: I will now turn aside and see this great sight[7]. If Moshe hadn’t said this, if he hadn’t turned aside to see this great sight, he would not have become the one who led Israel out of Egypt – for it is written that the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, and only then God called to him from the midst of the bush[8]. Only when Moshe started to walk in the direction of God – and God saw that – only then did He speak to him. Each of us must know and remember this: the sovereign Lord Himself chooses when to reveal Himself to us; He Himself intervenes and makes our hearts burn within us; He Himself calls us to turn aside – to listen and respond. But whether He remains to unfold the purpose of his intervention, depends on our heart response: whether we constrain Him to stay with us – whether we turn aside to listen to Him. And this is our key for today, KEY NUMBER THREE:  often enough, God acts as though – He withholds His true feelings, desires and intentions from us, in order to serve His higher purpose for our lives. However, it is always our decision whether we trust our eyes or our hearts. There is still something we can do even when our eyes are restrained: listen to our heart!

[1] Lk..24:28

[2] John 11:5

[3] John 11:4

[4] John 8:9

[5] Lk..24:29

[6] Lk. 24:32

[7] Ex. 3:3

[8] Ex. 3:4

About the author

Julia BlumJulia is a teacher and an author of several books on biblical topics. She teaches two biblical courses at the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, “Discovering the Hebrew Bible” and “Jewish Background of the New Testament”, and writes Hebrew insights for these courses.

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  1. Frank Fisher

    I so much appreciate what you have revealed here. And your style is such that it ‘as though’ I was sitting in your classroom.

  2. John miller

    Good comments. As in SS …the call is Come away My fair one come away! or in Revelation to John to Come up higher! or to the inner circle, Come on the Mount, or closer to pray with Me. How loving to call for closer intimacy! Yet, He will not push us further than our hearts are willing. John

  3. Roy Smith

    Many thanks and blessings Dr Julia for a wonderful insight to the scriptures.

  4. Grandpatugalong

    Beautiful, Julia. Somehow I missed it. How does this key relate to the hidden Messiah?

    1. Julia Blum

      This key speaks of the response of the heart while the eyes are still restrained. They didn’t recognize Him, their eyes were still restrained – but their hearts were burning, and that’s why they urged Him to stay. They listened to their hearts – and because of that, their eyes would be opened and they would recognize Him soon.

  5. Danny

    Wow! I’ve listened to many sermons that had less to say but took so much longer to say it. This really blessed me. Thank you ever so much.

  6. Elizabeth (Lisa) Seibel-Ross

    A truly beautiful key and a pattern of Divine/Human interaction that I imagine many can recognize within the outworking of their lives. I love your description of God’s love as being hidden within His plan. Being able to trust His call on our hearts and respond to it is the key to realizing our greatest joy.

  7. jane z mazzola

    I agree w/ both Linda, & also, Laurel. Mystical in reflection & to ponder. Thank you very much.
    Jane M

  8. Jerry S.

    As though – perfect explanation.
    J.

  9. Laurel

    Very insightful!
    Thank you.

  10. Linda Woolard

    Wow ! Dr. Julia. This is best post ever ….so spiritually deep ….that spiritual LOVE is what knowing Him is all about. Of course, it is based on LOVING HIM first with our whole heart , soul & spirit & then our neighbor as ourself somewhat , really more than ourselves as we obey what Yeshua Jesus Holy Spirit tells us is needed in & through Him ! Blessings!