“Without a parable He did not speak to them” (Matthew 13:34)
“The least things of all, down to the least of the leasts, are directed by the Lord’s providence, even as to our very steps” (Secrets of Heaven 6493).
“When the Lord is with a person, He leads the person and makes provision so that all that happens, whether sad or joyful, may bring what is good.” (Secrets of Heaven 6303)
The Lord saves mankind out of mercy alone and…does not demand any praise or thanks in return for His Divine benefits. (see Spiritual Experiences 2098)
The Lord teaches that they have faith in Him who live according to His commandments, so that the life which results from doing so goes to compose their faith. Acknowledging the Lord and acknowledging that all salvation comes from Him constitute the beginning of the life from God with a person. (see Arcana Coelestia 10083:6).
The very first thing a person needs to do is to acknowledge that the Lord is the Savior of the world; for unless one acknowledges this no one can receive any truth or good at all from heaven, or therefore receive faith from there. And since it was the very first and most essential thing, therefore in order that He might be acknowledged when He came into the world the Lord questioned the sick, when He healed them, about their faith; and those who had faith were healed. This faith was that He was the Son of God who was to come into the world, and that He had power to heal and save. Furthermore every healing of sickness by the Lord when He was in the world served to mean a healing of spiritual life, thus served to mean the things that belong to salvation (Arcana Coelestia 10083:5).
Click on a week, below, to see an outline for weekly study.
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”
Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
Now there were set there six water pots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”
This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
"The ruler of the feast" means those who are in the knowledges of truth; his saying to the bridegroom, "every man setteth on first the good wine; and when men have had enough, the inferior; thou hast kept the good wine until now," signifies that every church has its beginning in truths from good, but falls away into truths not of good, but that now, at the end of the church, truth from good, or genuine truth, is granted, namely by the Lord. (AE 376)
But after the conflict has taken place and truth has triumphed, the falsity falls away like dregs and the truth emerges purified. It is like wine that becomes clear after fermentation as the dregs sink to the bottom. That fermentation or conflict takes place especially when a person's state undergoes a change, that is to say, when his actions begin to spring from the good of charity, and not as previously from the truth of faith. For a person's state is not yet made pure while his actions spring from the truth of faith, but they have been made pure when they spring from the good of charity, since they now spring from his will. (AC 7906)
- What significance do you find in the fact that this is the first miracle Jesus worked?
- What do you make of Jesus' reaction when Mary notices the lack of wine?
- What do you make of the Master of the Feast's reaction to the wine?
- Have you ever experienced this miracle in your life, a time when you believed something that was false that changed into understanding the truth?
Think of a relationship you'd like to work on or repair. What are common unkind thoughts you have about that person? How can some of these negative thoughts actually be falsities that need to be turned into truths?
Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-23)
Their life from the Divine was represented by the Lord's walking upon the sea; and their obscure and wavering faith was represented by Peter's walking upon the sea and beginning to sink, but being saved when the Lord took hold of him, "to walk" signifying in the Word to live. This was done "in the fourth watch" to signify the first state of the church, when it is daybreak and morning is at hand, for then good begins to act through truth, and then the Lord comes; that the sea in the meanwhile was moved by the wind, and that the Lord restrained it, signifies the natural state of life that precedes, which is an unpeaceful and as it were tempestuous state; but with the state that is nearest to morning, which is the first state of the church with man, because the Lord is then present in the good of love, there comes tranquillity of mind. (Apocalypse Explained 514)
- Describe a time you wanted/needed to call on the Lord. Were you able to? What prevents you from reaching out?
- Does it feel strong/admirable to call on the Lord as Peter did? Or weak? Discuss.
This week, when fear or worry comes up open your palm. Offer a prayer. Invite the Lord into this moment. Call on him with your belief and your doubt.
Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”
Then His disciples said to Him, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?”
Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?”
And they said, “Seven, and a few little fish.”
So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala.(Matthew 15:32-39)
For when someone breaks bread and gives it to another he is sharing with him what is his own. Or when a loaf is broken and shared among many, the single loaf becomes one shared mutually by all, and all are consequently joined together through charity. (Arcana Coelestia 5405)
For a fish, as shown in this article, signifies, from correspondence, the Natural as to what is scientific; therefore also a fish, in the Word, signifies the scientific, and the cognitive faculty of the natural man, and a broiled fish signifies the scientific which is from natural good; but, with the Lord, it signified the Natural Divine as to truth from good. (Apocalypse Explained 513)
"To eat" and "to drink" are often mentioned in the Word, and those who have no knowledge of the spiritual sense can have no other idea than that natural eating and drinking are thereby meant; but "to eat" and "to drink" signify to nourish oneself spiritually, consequently to appropriate to oneself good and truth, "to eat" signifying to appropriate to oneself good. (Apocalypse Explained 617)
- Have you ever had to help feed a large group of people? What was that experience like? How was that experience similar or different to this story?
- What is a source of "spiritual food" for you in your life?
- In what areas of life do you feel famished? Lacking?
Make a point to say a blessing before each meal this week. Ask for physical and spiritual nourishment. Or recite the following passage:
"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever." (Psalm 136:1)
Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.
Therefore the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, “Is not this he who sat and begged?”
Some said, “This is he.” Others said, “He is like him.”
He said, “I am he.”
Therefore they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
He answered and said, “A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.”
Then they said to him, “Where is He?”
He said, “I do not know.”
“Why the Lord did this no one understands unless he knows the internal or spiritual sense of the Word; in that sense, by ‘a man blind from birth’ those are meant who are born outside of the church and who therefore could not know anything about the Lord, or be taught out of the Word. ‘The clay that the Lord made from spittle on the ground’ signifies reformation by means of truths from the sense of the letter of the Word; ‘the ground’ is the church where the Word is; ‘clay’ is the ultimate Divine forming; ‘anointing the eyes of the blind with it’ is to give thereby the understanding of truth; ‘the pool of Siloam’ also signifies the Word in the letter; ‘to be washed there’ is to be purified from falsities and evils.”(Apocalypse Explained 239)
For as the eye sees by virtue of natural light, so the understanding sees by virtue of spiritual light. 'To see' is therefore predicated of both. (Apocalypse Revealed 48)
Faith takes the form of spiritual sight in us. Since spiritual sight (the sight of the intellect and therefore the mind) and physical sight (the sight of the eye and therefore the body) correspond to each other, every state of faith is comparable to a state of the eye and its sight. The states of true faith are comparable to all the healthy states of eyesight. The states of false faith are comparable to all the unhealthy states of eyesight. (True Christian Religion 346)
Eyes symbolize the intellect, and the sight of the eyes intelligence and wisdom, as may be seen in no. 48. And since eye salve symbolizes medicine for it, it follows that to anoint the eyes with eye salve means, symbolically, to heal the intellect, so that it may see truths and become wise. Otherwise the genuine truths of the Word are profaned and adulterated. (Apocalypse Revealed 214)
- What are your thoughts/questions about physical healing? How has this notion been inspiring? Abused? Confusing?
- In what areas of your life do you feel blind and long for healing/site to be restored?
In your group or by yourself, close your eyes for 1 minute and meditate on the phrase "The Lord is my light and my salvation" (Psalm 27:1). Then open your eyes and meditate on the phrase again for another minute. What was different about having your eyes closed and during the exercise? What was different about having them open?
When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding. So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.”
And He said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.
Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region. (Matthew 8:28-34)
What is a person’s own leads him to love self more than the Lord and to love the world more than heaven, whereas the life of heaven consists in loving the Lord above all things and the neighbor as oneself. From this it is evident that the first life, which is that of hell, must be completely destroyed, that is, evils and falsities must be removed, in order that the new life, which is that of heaven, may be implanted…. There are thousands and thousands of hidden ways, scarcely a single one of which is known to mankind, by which the Lord leads a person from the life of hell to the life of heaven. (Secrets of Heaven 9336:2,3)
That those that were obsessed by demons were in sepulchers and came out therefrom (Matt. 8:28 seq.; Mark 5:2, 3, 5; Luke 8:27);
namely, because those that were obsessed while they lived in the world were in falsities from evil, or in knowledges from the Word, which they made dead by employing them to confirm evils and also to destroy the genuine truths of the church, especially the truths respecting the Lord, the Word, and the life after death; these dead knowledges are called in the Word "traditions." This is why those that were obsessed by such, when they had become demons:
Were in sepulchers, and the demons themselves were afterwards cast out into swine, that cast themselves headlong into the sea (Matt. 8:31-33).
They were "cast into swine" [because while they lived in the world they had been in sordid avarice],* and this is what "swine" correspond to and thence signify; they "cast themselves headlong into the sea" because the "sea" here signifies hell. (AE 659)
- Why do you think the demons wanted to be cast into the swine? Why did they throw themselves into the sea?
- Much of the dialogue and action in this story is done by the demons and townspeople, Jesus only says one simple word, "Go." What do you make of this?
- What warning can we take from this miracle?
When you feel overcome by negativity during the day, find power in saying the word "Go."
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:11-44)
That this signifies enlightenment, is evident from the signification of "sleep," as being an obscure state in comparison with waking, which is a lucid state; hence "to awake out of sleep," in the spiritual sense, denotes to be enlightened. (Arcana Coelestia 3715)
For by 'death' no other death than spiritual death is understood, and this is induced when the understanding is removed from the things to be believed; for in this case a person does not know whether he thinks and does what is true or false, thus whether [he acts] with heaven's angels or with hell's devils.(Apocalypse Revealed 429)
That this signifies that the Lord alone preserves from evils, is evident from the signification of "to heal," as being to cure, and also to preserve from evils, for when "diseases" signify evils, "to heal" signifies a remedy and preservation from them, (Arcana Coelestia 8365)
- Which characters in this story do you most resonate with?
- What do you make of the mistaken conclusion that Lazarus was just asleep, when in fact he was dead? Have there been moments when a bad habit or tendency was much worse than you'd originally thought?
- What parts of you have you considered "dead?" What would it look like for them to have new life?
- What do you make of this story? How can the Lord raise us from the "dead?"
Where is an area of your life you feel sick or dead? What might you need to be awakened and healed? Write out a humble prayer asking God for the strength and enlightenment to come out of your "tomb."