My dear readers, you all know by now that Pentecost and Shavuot are two different names for the same Festival. Last time, we spoke about Revelation being the main theme of Shavuot in Jewish tradition. That means that some hidden things were revealed on that Pentecost/Shavuot day in Jerusalem that Acts 2 tells us about: when “Peter (stood) up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem,” he was about to reveal something that was not known to his audience before. Of course, you all know the text, and Peter’s speech does not read as revelatory for you. However, try to imagine the suspension of the crowd when Peter stood up, raised his voice, and began his speech with the words, “let this be known to you”. What did Peter reveal?
The Mystery of Luke
In order to understand, what was revealed on that day, I would like to emphasize something that undoubtedly you know: Luke is the only author in early Christianity who complements the story of Jesus before the crucifixion with the story of his disciples after his crucifixion. Therefore, we are not at the beginning of a certain book, we are in the very middle of two volumes of Luke’s writings. If something is being revealed now, in the middle of Luke’s writings, we should probably look into the first half of these writings: has there been anything in the Gospel that has been kept as a secret so far?
As a matter of fact, there has. I will try to explain it here briefly, although of course, it would take much more time and many more pages to explore it fully. Yes, we do find a hidden mystery in Luke’s Gospel – and again and again we see in this Gospel that the whole process of keeping this secret from almost everybody – and revealing it to some chosen ones – seems essential for Luke. 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 is the secret, then? What is the main secret of Luke’s narrative? What is being concealed from certain people participating in this story and revealed to just some? What hidden things does Jesus have in mind? Luke places these words of Jesus after the return of the 72 disciples who rejoice that the demons are subject to them. Jesus thanks the Father and then, turning to his disciples, he says to them: “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired (ηθελησαν) to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” Obviously, this statement is connected directly with the first one: these things, which are hidden by God from the wise – they are the same things that many prophets and kings desired (ηθελησαν) to see … and to hear…. Luke claims that there is some secret, hidden mystery, which many prophets desired to see – but now the disciples finally see it.
The Messianic Secret
According to Luke, this mystery is the coming of the Messiah happening right before the eyes of many people, but not recognized and understood by them. The messiahship of Jesus is something the author knows, but the original participants do not. Consciously and purposely, Luke portrays Jesus concealing his messiahship from His audience.
The examples are numerous. Let us have a look at some scriptures where Jesus directly forbade others to speak of Him as Messiah: He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered and said, ‘The Christ [Messiah] of God.’ And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one. He didn’t just recommend that they not say anything—He forbade them to talk about it, and almost always strictly or sternly. Actually, the only thing that Jesus did sternly was to forbid people to discuss His Messianic identity and miracles.
Let us turn, for example, to chapter 4, to the scenes following the well-known episode of the rejection of Jesus in the synagogue of Nazareth. Unlike the people in Nazareth, there were some who had recognized him as Messiah—these were the demons—but Jesus always forbade them to proclaim him. Thus, when the demoniac of Capernaum cries: “What have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Did you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” – Jesus rebuked him, saying: “Be quiet, and come out of him!”  In Luke 4:40, this demonic confession of the Messiah is repeated again, but here, for the first time, the reason why Jesus rebukes the demons is formulated explicitly: And he, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that he was the Christ (Messiah-JB).
In the same way, sick people also become the objects of the corresponding ban. We find Jesus’ prohibition both in the story of the leper and in the raising of the Jairus’ daughter. After cleansing the leper, he charged him to tell no one; after raising the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, He charged them to tell no one what had happened. The impression is that Jesus is concerned that the broadcasting of his miracles will compel him to reveal his messiahship to Israel.
However, the story of the Gentile demoniac from the country of Gadarenes reveals an exception. In this case, Jesus’ command to the man who is healed is sharply different from what he had commanded to his fellow Jews in the same situations: Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you. It is important to note that this case provides the only exception in the whole Gospel: in all other cases, Jesus diligently avoids messianic titles and resists firmly the broadcasting of his miracles. Thus, Jesus was ready to reveal His identity to the Gentiles but was very careful not to reveal it to the Jews.
There is no secret, which will not become revealed.
It is important to distinguish between texts and history, and therefore, between two different audiences: the audience of the readers of the Gospel, and the audience of Jesus inside of the Gospel. Of course, Luke knows the secret of Jesus’ messiahship; moreover, he will soon describe it revealed in Acts. But for now, the messiahship of Jesus is something the author knows, but the original participants of the Gospel do not.
So, here are some preliminary results that will definitely help us understand what exactly was revealed by Peter on the Day of Pentecost. First of all, we can say that in his Gospel, Luke claims that there is some secret, hidden mystery, which many prophets desired to see, and now the disciples finally see it. This most profound secret and mystery of Luke’s Gospel is the coming of the Messiah, happening right before the eyes of many people, but still not recognized and understood by them. Why wasn’t he recognized? Why was his messiahship hidden? And when was it revealed? These are the questions we will discuss next time.
If you are interested to learn more about Hidden Messiah, you can read my book As Though Hiding His Face, discussing in depth this issue. To get this and my other books, click here. Also, I would like to remind you, that we offer wonderful courses, and those interested in studying in-depth Parashat Shavua, along with New Testament insights, or exploring the Jewish Background of the New Testament, are welcome to contact me (email@example.com) for more information and for the discount for the new students.
 Luke 10.21
 Luke 10.24
 Luke 9:20-21
 Luke 4:33