Messiah Hidden And Revealed In Luke-acts (2)

 

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

*          *          *

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.”[3] 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[4].  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.

 

 

[1] Lk.8.17, Lk.12.2

[2] Lk.10.21

[3] Lk. 10.24

[4] 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.

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. Paul Kristofferson

    Thank you for your articles Julia, about the mystery of the hidden Messiah now revealed. There is even an element of this in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (1:9. )Where Paul writes about the plan of God as something formerly hidden but now revealed in the Messiah to unite all people under the rule of Jesus. I would like to have been in those Synogogues listening to Paul expound his message ,& to have also listened to the questions that people asked. Shalom. Paul

    1. Julia Blum

      You are right, Paul, I also love this verse. Undoubtedly, Paul knew firsthand this mystery: how the Messiah who was as hidden to him as to many other Jewish people, was revealed in him and to him! It is an amazing story, how it happened, and maybe one day we will discuss it here.

  2. Alejandra Mar

    I´m expecting the next!! God blessing you, Julia.
    Thanks a lot for your teachings!!

  3. Walter, Angelika

    Dear Julia,
    I love to read your articles, you help me greatly to gain a deeper understanding from a jewish perspective. Thank you for your insight about the temptations of Yeshua in connection with jewish expectations at his time. Sometimes I wondered about the temptations, they are so different from the temptations we face and at first glace don´t seem difficult to resist. I mean, who of us would throw himself down a roof ? But if there were expectations about the Messiah standing at the roof of the temple, it does make sense. You´re right, these are messianic temptations to reveal himself as Messiah before the appointed time. I have read your book “If you be the son of God” and I recommend it to everyone reading here. You wrote about God holding back his love. Can it be, that the temptation was not only to become King Messiah right now without his own suffering and death, but also or even more to spare his beloved people centuries of suffering? Is the true temptation here not about power, but about love? He cried about Jerusalem “How much have I longed to gather you” and he had compassion with the woman who mourned for him on his way to the cross, knowing Jerusalem would be destroyed. I can imagine now, how hard it must have been for Yeshua not to reveal himself, to hold back and not bring about the messianic era of peace the people longed for and he himself, too.
    I think this word “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” is an important spiritual principal. Perhaps he could not reveal himself yet, because most people, especially the leaders, were not yet at a point in life to be truly humble. Perhaps the word of God is only sweet for those broken in Spirit, but for all who are still wise in their own eyes it´s a stumbling block.
    I look forward to listen to your thoughts.
    Angelika

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you so much , Angelika, for your kind words. It is always such a blessing to hear from you! A lot to think about. I’ll reply after Shabbat, meanwhile I just wanted to publish your comment for the sake of discussion.

      1. Sonia Willats

        Angelica and Julia,
        I find these comments very lovely and helpful and thoughtful – the temptation to avoid the suffering that was required (Isa 58 etc.) & also to prevent the suffering of the Jewish nation (also predicted by Moses.) G*d’s plan and timing is always perfect, but is like a flower that must ‘unwrap’ as it is instructed to, one day at a time… as we trust Him.

        Thanks for sharing the loveliness of our Messiah. I think of Peter pleading with him not to go to Jerusalem that Pesach, and “he set his face as flint…. towards Jerusalem” (Quoted from memory, but be certainly followed a plan.. This came over to me reading the book of Mark a few years ago too… His life was not taken from him – he laid it down.)

    2. Julia Blum

      Dear Angelika, it is very interesting that you connected the things I wrote in “If you be the Son of God” – about God holding back His love for the sake of His plan, restraining Himself, like Joseph, – with this theme of hidden Messiah and Yeshua “holding back” his Messiahship and restraining His love for the sake of God’s plan! Your idea that “the temptation was not only to become King Messiah right now without his own suffering and death, but also or even more to spare his beloved people centuries of suffering” is an amazing thought, so deep and profound! Wow, I haven’t thought about it in this way! Thank you so much!

  4. Dorothy Healy

    What a remarkable turnaround we see in Luke 4 where Jesus read from the scroll. First they “wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth”, and then, after his challenging discourse (from the mere son of Joseph), they were intending to hurl him off a cliff. Claiming to be a prophet sent from God, let alone the Messiah himself, seems to have been very dangerous ground to walk on at that time – such blasphemy – no wonder he needed to remain hidden.

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you ,Dorothy! It is indeed one of the most amazing scenes in the entire New Testament. How to explain this drastic change : just minutes ago, they were all amazed by Him and his authority, and then they are so infuriated that they want to kill Him? I believe, it all has to do with the “hidden Messiah ” theme, and all the answers come from there.

  5. David Pierce

    You are indeed a very good replacement. Excellent articles and insights. Thank you so very much!

    1. Julia Blum

      Really blessed and thankful to hear that. Thank you, David. Hope and pray this blog will keep being helpful and enriching for many.

  6. Kat H

    So according to Deuteronomy 8:2 I should be able to recognize His guiding light (revelations / testing of my heart)
    Test 1 (Deu 8:3) Judaism – will I keep his commandments? (God will provide the sacrifice)? (YHWH elōhîm)
    Test2 (Deu 6:13) Judaism – will I serve God only ?(divided – only God can make me into a servant/produce fruit ) (YHWH elōhîm)
    Test3 – (Exodus 17:7, Deu 6:16) Christian – will I put the Lord your God to the test? – this is very interesting because I was a Christian and was not aware I was being tested. I remembered test 2 (the key from Judaism) and so I prayed to the helper and overcame (undivided) (YHWH). I recognized God in me. Is this called the Holy Spirit? I don’t know my language is all mixed up.

  7. Mary Ibrahim Itambu

    Amina Bwana Mungu wa Isrseli, nimevutiwa sana na neno la Mungu kwa kupitia kitabu cha Luka.
    Nimefurahi kwa ufunuo huu, ni kweli neno la Mungu kila wakati lilikuwa linatimia nusunusu, lakini kuna nabii za zamani sana ambazo hazijawahi kutimia lakini wakati huu wa mwisho kila siri itafunuliwa wazi, Mungu atayafumbua mafumbo yote aliyosema kwa njia ya mafumbo, yote atayafunua wazi, kila jamii huwa wana maneno ya siri, wao wanaweza kujua wanachomaanisha, pia kuna siri za taifa, wao wanakuwa na lugha fulani ambayo watu wengine hawawezi kujua, kuna lugha za jeshi ambazo mtu mwingine anaseza kusikie na asielewe anamaanisha nini,
    Kuna lugha ya siri ya Daktari ambazo mgonjwa anaweza kusiliza asielewe,
    Kuna lugha ya siri kwa mke na mume, wanaweza kuongea mfu mwingine asijue,
    Vivyo hivyo Mungu ana lugha ya siri kwa Wayahudi, yeye anaweza kuzungumza mambo ya siri na yasieleweke kwa watu wengine kwasababu wakati umewadia Mungu kuwarudia Wayahudi, sio kwamba hakuwepo, Mungu yuko siku katika nchi yake takatifu, lakini jambo fulani lazima litendeke, yeye huonyesha njia ya kumjua, ipo njia yake ambayo hujifunua, na kujionuesha wazi kwa watu wake,, pia iko njia ambayo yeye hujificha, kama hiyo njia haijatokana na neno lake, hujificha, yeye hujifunua ksa njia rahisi sana na akipenda kujificha hujificha kwa njia rahisi sana, hivyo basiwakati huu ni zamu ya Wayahudi Mungu anajifunua wazi, ni vigumu kuelewa lakini kwa Wayahudi wao wataijua hiyo lugha ya Mungu,
    Lugha ya siri kati ya Mungu na Wayahudi, wao wataielewa kwa hakika, kwao ni rahisi kuijua, haitakuwa ni ngumu kuelewa, ila huko nje yeye hunena kwa misamiati, yako mbo mengi ambayo Bwana atayafunua yote, haitaalia siri, itafunuliwa kwa njia rahisi sana.
    Iko chembe ya Mungu huko ndani ya moyo wa Mungu ambayo yenyewe hufunua mambo mengi,
    Leo nilifikiria jambo nilifikiria vile ni vigumu sana Ibrahim wakati anamsindikiza Mungu ( Elohim) halafu njiani awatambulishe watu kuwa anamsindikiza Mungu mwuumba mbingu na nchi, amejaa vumbi miguuni pake, amevaa nguo za kawaida sana.
    Watu wangefikiri Ibrahim amerukwa na akili, ni jambo gumu sana kuelewa, Ikafika wakati Mungu akavaa meili wa kibinadamu, mwili uliyozaliwa na mwanamke, mwili ule ukaitwa mwana wa Mungu, tukichunguza hayo maneno yake , yeye alisema Ibrahim alitamani kuiona siku yake, wakamwuuliza hujapata hata miaka hamsini, unasemaje Ibrahim aloona siku yako?
    Yeye alijibu kabla ya Ibrahim kuwepo mimi nilikuwepo,
    Yesu akasema ninaenda kwa baba, nitamwimba baba awaletee huyo msaidizi, hapo hapo anasema nisipoondoka mimi huyo msaidizi hatakuja, anaendelea kusema bado kitambo kidogo hamtaniona bali ninyi mtaniona kwasababu nitakuwa pamoja nanyi, tukifuatilia hapa yeye huyo huyo alirudi akiwa Roho mtakatifu, akagawanyika katika mwali wa moto, yeye yle yule,
    Ni rahisi sana kumgawanya Mungu, lakini tunasimama katika neno hili yeye ni Bwana Mungu wa Israeli, yeye ni Mumgu mmoja, hakuna mwingine,
    Yeye anasema mimi na baba yangu tu mmoja, ukiniona mimi umemwona baba, yeye aliomba akitazama juu akisema baba wa mbinguni, lakini alikuwa ndani yake, tuna uthibitisho wa maandiko Roho alishuka katika umbo kama hua, Mungu mwuumba mbingu na nchi alikuwa katika ule mwili wa ukombozi.
    Alikuwa ni masihi.
    Hili jambo limewapofusha watu wengi kuona kwamba kwasababu Wayahudi hawakuelewa kwa wakati huo. Hata sasa hawataelewa, sio kweli, maandiko yanasema Mungu aliwapofusha ili awageukie mataifa, hivyo ilikuwa kusudi la Mungu, kama hakuwapofusha macho. Asingeuwawa, na kama asingeuwawa basi kungekuwa na giza totoro kwa mataifa, wao wasingemjua Mungu wa Israeli kwa kupitia ile sadaka ya Mungu mwenyese,
    Mataifa wasingepata wokovu, na yeye alisema na kondoo wengine ninao, ambao sio wa zizi hili, na hao imenipasa kuwaleta, na sauti yangu wataisikia, kisha kutakuwako kundi moja na mchungaji moja, wasingeweza kuja ipokuwa kwa njia ya damu yake, kama asingelisulubiwa, tusingekuwa na ondoleo la dhambi, tusingepata kondoo wa kutosha kwa ajili ya dhambi ya ulimwengu mzima.
    Sivyo ilivyo kwa Wayahudi wa sasa, wao hawawezi kupofushwa, hakuna sadaka nyingine tena. Ule mwili ulitolewa mara moja tu, hivyo hakuna neno la kuposha tena kwa Wayahudi, kizazi cha sasa ni cha kufumbuliwa macho ili walipokee mafumbo yote yaliwahi kufumbwa, wao wana ahadi ya kujua kila kitu, ni kizazi kilichopata majaliwa ya kipekee sana, manabii wote waliyotabiri kila unabii utatimizwa katika kizazi hiki, pia hata viumbe vyote vinaugua kwa kutimizwa kwa neno la Mungu.
    Tunamshukuru Mungu kwa neema yake kuwa hatawaacha Wayahudi kama vile watu wanavyowazia, kamwe hatawaacha wao ni watu wa ahadi, wao ni wa agano na Mungu, atawafunulia kila kitu, hatasaza siri hata mmoja,
    Kama vile kila kitu husonga mbele, taifa la miaka 2000 iliopia mpaka sasa haliwezi kufanana, taifa husogea, maendeleo husogea uvumbuzi husogea, akivumbua kutengeneza ndege ya zamani sivyo atavyogundua kutengeneza ndege kwa sasa, ni vitu tofauti.
    Hata kwa Mungu wetu pia yeye husogea, hatuwezi kujenga safina kwa sasa, japokuwa ni kweli ni neno la Mungu lakini hatuwezi kutengeneza sagina, Mungu husogea pamoja na watu wake, kwasasa hakuna tena Yesu kusulubiwa, atasulubiwa na nani hiki sio kizazi kile, hicho kimepita,
    Kwasasa liko jambo moja tu, ni mpinga Krsto, hata hivyo sio Wayahudi, Mungu amekwisha kuweka njia kwa Wayahudi kwa ajili ya kumwona Masihi wao,

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you, Mary Ibrahim. Unfortunately, I don’t read Swahili, but I tried to translate through Google and was able to understand some. Blessings!

  8. Nick Edwards

    After spending several years expanding my faith and understanding via Jewish teachings, I am encouraged with your work to bring some clarity to, or a different way of viewing the Messiahship issue. Thank you.
    Nick

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you Nick, it’s great that you find these articles helpful.

  9. Elizabeth V. Kane

    I thank you for your scholarly insight relating the Jewish view of what many Christians as their religious. I find your thoughts so deep that I will reccommend this site to some priests and biblical instructors. I am sure that people with more biblical knowledge than myself will truly enjoy and will share discussion on a level closer to yours.

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you so much Elizabeth, I am so glad you enjoy the blog. And I don’t think this discussion is for priests or biblical scholars only. I enjoy enormously reading the comments, and I learn so much from them – so I really want to hear more from you as well. Blessings!

  10. Joan

    Thank you for the wonderful insights that you are providing in these blogs Julia. I’ve never connected the temptation on the Temple mount with Jesus being tempted to reveal his Messiahship. This has opened my eyes to a new way of looking at Jesus’ wilderness temptations. Between the blog and everyones comments I am learning so much.
    Again Thank you.

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you, Joan, for your kind words. I am really touched and I am very glad that you find these articles interesting.

    2. Sandile Mahlangu

      Thank You Julia.The first time I got introduced to your work was when I got a pdf of your book “Abraham had two sons” to review it and I have to admit that it was a work of art.I really appreciate the knowledge you give us through this blog.Keep up the good work and stay blessed.

      1. Julia Blum

        Thank you, Sandile, for your kind and encouraging words! Blessings!

    3. JACOB VULA

      Thanks for all the wonderful words and truths about the messiah Jesus Christ .