We have already seen that in Luke’s Gospel Jesus continuously forbids his countrymen to speak of his messianic status and his miracles. On the other hand, in the book of Acts, right from the beginning, Peter loudly proclaims the messiahship of Jesus to the house of Israel. Nothing is hidden anymore in Acts: the messianic status of Jesus is declared loudly and publicly.
In order to explain this sudden change, we need to suggest two things: First, that some crucial event happened between these two pieces, and second, that for some reason, after this event the messiahship of Jesus was revealed. We all know the obvious answer to the first part: the crucial event that happened between the main part of the Gospel and Acts was the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Then, our question would be: why? Why did His death and resurrection become such a clear-cut border, such an obvious demarcation line between “before” and “after”? Why did Jesus have to remain the hidden Messiah during his earthly life, only to be revealed after His resurrection?
I know that many of you are waiting patiently (or impatiently) for the answer. It will come in a due time. Have you noticed a key in the pictures attached to these posts? We will definitely need the key to unlock this mystery. Thankfully, Luke provided this key, and we will use it, beginning from next week. For now, let us finish building the case and describing the mystery we have to unlock
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The theme of revealing of some hidden secret is very important for Luke. For instance, the statement: There is no secret which will not be revealed, occurs only once in Mark and in Matthew, while in Luke we hear it twice. In Luke 10, Jesus says: I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. What hidden things does Jesus refer to? Does He mean His messiahship?
Luke places these words of Jesus after the return of the 72 disciples. He thanks the Father and then, turning to his disciples, says to them: “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” This statement seems to be connected directly to the first one: the things that many prophets and kings desired to see … and to hear – they are the very same things which are hidden by God from the wise.
Let me elaborate. Different Targums describe the desire of the prophets to see the days of the Messiah. In Targum Pseudo-Jonathan 49:1, we read: as soon as the Glory of Shekinah of the Lord was revealed, the time in which the King Messiah was destined to come was hidden from him. Targum Neofiti paraphrases it slightly: As soon as the mystery was revealed to him, it was hidden from him. We have already seen that, in spite of the late dates of these texts, they often reflect the ideas and expectations of Second Temple Judaism. It is only natural to suppose that Jesus was familiar with these religious ideas. After his words in Luke 10:21-22 Jesus turns to His disciples privately and refers to a common idea of His time: that the kings and the prophets were waiting for the days of Messiah – waiting to see and hear what they are seeing and hearing – and now these long-awaited days are happening right before their eyes. The Messiah has come!
However, if the Messiah has come right before their eyes – what then is the secret? Why does this whole theme of hidden remain so important for Luke? And what are the hidden things that Jesus is thanking the Father for?
Here I would like to quote again from some rabbinic writings: “Our Masters taught: When the King Messiah appears, he will come stand on the roof of the Temple and will make a proclamation to Israel saying: Meek ones, the day of your redemption is come.”
What does this remind you of? I think the answer is obvious – it sounds very similar to the description of Jesus’ temptation:
Luke 4:9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here”.
For years, I’ve been wondering about the strange nature of this temptation – third in Luke or second in Matthew. In the two other temptations, Jesus is tempted by something very understandable, by the bread and by power – but here the Satan is not even saying what he is offering. “Throw yourself down from here” – what is Jesus actually being tempted by? If it was to work, and he did not die, what would his reward be? What is the temptation in this?
The passage we just read is taken from Piska 36 of tractate Pesikta Rabbati. Read again Luke 4:9, and in the light of this rabbinic text, probably you would agree that Jesus was tempted to reveal himself as King Messiah before the appointed time.
Now, together with Jesus – who just withstood this temptation – we can enter the synagogue of Nazareth, still in the same chapter 4. Up until now, every time in this Gospel when some heavenly news was revealed to various elected people, they received it – like the shepherds, who stood up and immediately went to Bethlehem. But here we see something very different: Jesus is opening the scroll of Isaiah, reading the amazing words, proclaiming the good news and bringing a message from heaven, – but the people gathered are not able to receive His message. Though the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him, there is a veil separating the people from seeing and understanding the mystery of His messiahship: as Messiah, He remains “hidden” from them and for them. Why? This is yet another piece of this big puzzle, another glimpse of the mystery of Jesus being not recognized by his own people: Jesus who came to His own and His own received Him not. We need to unlock this mystery – and it means that from now on, we will need the key.
 Lk.8.17, Lk.12.2
 Lk. 10.24
 This Midrash was composed much later, of course, – but once again, a big part of the ideas and expectations reflected there, belongs to the Second Temple Judaism. The source material all comes from the Land of Israel. Modern scholarly opinion tends to view the Pesikta Rabbati as a Palestinian work of the sixth or seventh century.