Today, we are opening Lock Number Three – and therefore we will be using Key Number Three: as though. In Luke 24:28 we read: he made as though he would have gone further. This is a very remarkable word and a very remarkable key indeed: there are not many places in the Bible where God acts “as though” – where He pretends to do something. When discussing this key, we saw that in our lives we constantly face “as though” realities – because the Lord cannot reveal His love until His plan is completed. We saw this clearly played out in the story of Joseph: In the inner room, invisible to his brother Benjamin, Joseph 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 love or care for Benjamin. This is a very graphic, a very expressive illustration of the difference between the unseen truth and the visible “as though” things. We found the same in the story of Lazarus: When Yeshua didn’t come to heal him, it seemed – to Lazarus himself and to everybody around – as though He didn’t love him. The Bible is full of these “as though” stories where the secret of God’s love (Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus) is hidden within God’s plan (this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God). These stories teach us that faith is the… evidence of things not seen: We cannot know God’s thoughts and God’s heart simply by looking at the things which are seen – by only looking at “as though” reality. And this is the reason we have this “as though” word in the last and transitional chapter of Luke’s Gospel. A great writer, Luke wants us to see his whole Gospel in the light shed by this chapter – and therefore, to see the “as though” story in the story of Israel and Yeshua: as though He would have gone further, as though He would have abandoned us.
Let’s recall, once again, the story of Joseph and Benjamin. At that dramatic moment when the cup is extracted from Benjamin’s sack and the stares of the men – whether perplexed or condemning, hateful or compassionate – are fixed on their younger brother, we can easily discern these two realities, which not only don’t seem to match up, but oppose and contradict each other. In the visible, “as though” reality, Benjamin is hated and despised, he appears to be the thief and the enemy. The true reality is invisible, is completely hidden from the view of the brothers. In this true, invisible reality Benjamin is beloved; Joseph, the author of this whole story and the one in whose name Benjamin is being accused, deeply loves his brother. If we ask why the visible “as though” reality contrasts so strikingly with the invisible reality, and why in the visible reality Benjamin is made out to be the thief and enemy, the answer is very simple: for the sake of the brothers. Joseph has enacted this plan so that his brothers could be brought to repentance. For their sake, for the sake of their change and their transformation, he makes his beloved brother into the guilty one in this plan. Yes, Benjamin carries on himself all the pain and weight of this trial, but the real trial is not for Benjamin but for his brothers. The hearts of the brothers are being tested on Benjamin specifically because he is so dear to Joseph. Benjamin is made out to be an enemy for their sake.
Now we can better appreciate the secret, the mystery of God’s plan for Israel that Luke is trying to convey to us. Luke wants us to understand that God’s invisible plan differs greatly from the visible circumstances, and that beneath the visible, “as though” reality, there exists another, invisible reality – the only true reality. Just as in the story with Benjamin, in this invisible reality everything is reversed. As Paul will write later: they are enemies for your sake, – but forever the beloved of the Lord.
I would like to remind you also that this Greek verb προσεποιησάμην: make as though, act as if, pretend – occurs only one additional time in the whole Bible in Greek – in John 8:6, in the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery: “Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.” Why did Yeshua act as though He didn’t hear them? From John 8, we know very well why: just as in the story of Joseph, He was testing the hearts of the people around – and He was testing them by this “as though” reality. In the very same way, the hearts of the peoples around Israel are being tested by this “as though” reality: as though He would have gone further, as though He would have abandoned us. ‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her’, Yeshua said of the woman caught in adultery. Although she was caught in outright sin and was surrounded by scribes and Pharisees who led lawfully pious lives, when confronted, not one of them considered himself blameless enough to throw a stone at her. These are the very ones, by the way, that Christianity has declared the epitome of religious self-satisfaction and self-righteousness. Scarcely a century later, we find Israel tormented and spat upon, encircled by the Christian writers and theologians: all equally convinced of their own righteousness and her sinfulness, one after another and in complete contradiction to the words and spirit of the Teacher, they begin to stone her. For centuries and centuries, these stones have been flying at Israel, hurled by those who preached love and mercy. That is why this message seems to be so important to the New Testament writers: we have to be aware of this “as though” reality, we have to understand that even when Israel seems to be forsaken by God on the level of visible circumstances, in the true, invisible reality the Lord infinitely loves Israel.
Having said all this, however, I must add that one of the most significant insights into this “as though” motif, we find in some ancient prophecy in Tanach. I am working on the book about hidden Messiah, and my readers will see very soon that, according to this biblical prophecy, Messiah was supposed to be “as though hiding His face from us”. That is exactly what Yeshua did while He was on this earth. Unexpectedly and surprisingly, we will discover the “hidden Messiah“ pattern in the well -known prophecy– and this prophecy could possibly have been one of the main reasons for him to hide his messiahship. Yeshua was supposed to hide the face from us; the messianic dignity of Yeshua had to be concealed during his life and his ministry. Then through His suffering, His death and resurrection He would become the revealed Messiah – and we will have to use our next key, Breaking the Bread, to unlock the next lock and to understand how and why that happened.