11. Journeying From Cana To Capernaum (2:12-17)

After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples. And He remained there not many days. And the Passover of the Jews was near. And Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found those selling oxen and sheep and doves in the temple, and the money changers sitting. And making a whip out of ropes, He threw all out of the temple, both the sheep, and the oxen, and the money changers, pouring out the money and overturning the tables. And to the ones selling the doves, He said, Take these things from here! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise. And His disciples remembered that it was written, “The zeal of Your house has consumed Me.” (John 2:12-17)

…’mother’ [means] the Church…[which is] governed by the affection for truth, and it is this affection which makes it a Church, ‘mother’ …. therefore means that affection. (Arcana Coelestia 2717)

the Lord calls all in heaven and in the church “sons and heirs” from their connection through love from Him, and thus by mutual love, which is charity; therefore it is from the Lord that they are brethren. In this way the common saying that all are brethren in the Lord is to be understood. From this also it is clear whom the Lord means by “brethren,” namely, all who acknowledge Him and are in the good of charity from Him, consequently who are of His church. (Apocalypse Explained 746)

…twelve disciples mean the church in respect of all its truths and all its kinds of good, which are given to it by the Lord by means of the Word. (True Christian Religion 22)

“Parents,” “brethren,” “children,” [“kinsfolk,”] and “friends,” [in the Word] do not mean… parents, brethren, children, kinsfolk, friends, nor do “disciples” mean disciples, but the goods and truths of the church, (Apocalypse Explained 366)

It is to be known, that in the spiritual world place corresponds to state, for no one can be anywhere else than where the state of his life is (Apocalypse Revealed 565)

The reason why ‘journeying’ means a further stage in life is that extents of space, like periods of time, do not exist in the next life, but states instead, 2625, 2837, 3356, 3387, 4321, 4882, 5605, 7381. Consequently movements are not meant by ‘movements’, nor journeyings by ‘journeyings, but changes of states and further stages. (Arcana Coelestia 8397)

The Gospel often speaks of Jesus journeying as going down to some place, particularly when referring to a place in Galilee, and then going up to Jerusalem. In our reading today we see both these terms being used, He is said to go down to Capernaum and then up to Jerusalem. So having been at the marriage and having changed water into wine, we have Jesus, along with His mother, His brothers, and His disciples, going down to Capernaum. And so, the natural man reads this and thinks of the man Jesus making a journey from one place to another. But the spiritual man sees things very differently. To the spiritual man, this is not a journey from one place to another but the Word’s advancement from one state to another state – a shift in a state of mind as the Word in us works to bring about changes in our affections and thoughts.

For what is seen in the Word as a place by the natural man is understood by the spiritual man to be a state of mind. So just as the body passes through places as it journeys, so the mind passes through states. Places in the Word therefore correspond to spiritual or mental states of life. And if we are to read the Word spiritually then we need to hold onto these correspondences as we bring ourselves to it. So Jesus making a journey from one place to another corresponds to the Word creating, changing, reforming, and regenerating our inner states of life. In the literal sense of the Word, this is described as the Lord moving up and down or from what is higher to what is lower. This movement from what is higher to what is lower and then from what is lower to what is higher, reflects our own spiritual progressions as we look to follow the Lord as the Word.

Of course, in spiritual matters, that is, those things that have to do with our mental world, the terms higher and lower don’t have anything to do with the position of one thing related to another in space for spiritual things, our thoughts and affections, are not objects in space. A higher or lower affection, or a higher or lower thought, or a higher or lower state of mind, has nothing to do with a higher thing’s position in relation to what we are calling lower. A depressed state is not lower than a joyous one in terms of position in space but we use natural terms to describe them, for example I’m feeling really down or I’m on a high. So when we use the terms higher and lower to describe our states of mind we are not talking about their position but rather about our experience of their quality. We are really talking about how we are affected.

Similarly, when such terms are used in the Word, what is higher refers to what is more internal and what is lower to what is more external. So when the Word talks of Jesus going up it refers to the elevation of our thoughts and affections into the more interior things of the spirit, which have to do with more interior states of affection and thought. And when it speaks of Jesus going down it refers to the Word moving into the external things of our affection and thought. So whenever we read in the Word of something being high we can think of it in terms of what has to do with our mental life that is of a more internal nature and likewise, when we read of something being low we can think those things that are more external.

Our experience of the spiritual life involves a constant movement, almost like a kind of breathing, from what is more internal to what is more external and then back again from what is more external to what is more internal. A frequently used image of this is that of Jacob’s ladder, which was referred to in Chapter 1 when Jesus said to Nathanael;

Truly, truly, I say to you, From now on you will see Heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. (John 1:51) 

This speaks of our experience of our understanding of the Word, called here the Son of Man, and how truths, or the angels of God, direct our thoughts onto the relationship between the more internal and external things of the mind, as described by their ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

So we now come to this idea of the Lord descending from Cana, where He turned water into wine, and moving into Capernaum. The changing of water into wine represents a transformation in our perception of the Word itself, where we have moved from seeing it as something applying to others in the external world to instead how it relates to our own inner life, the life of our thoughts and affections. When we see this, we are then able to take what is being revealed to us and apply it to the external level of our thought and affectional life in order to begin to have our motivations purified. So the Word or Jesus is said to go down to Capernaum as it creates a state in us where we are willing to have our new understanding of truth actioned in governing the life of our external thoughts and affections. This again is the image of Jacob’s ladder that is a constantly used in the Gospel story.

After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples. And He remained there not many days. And the Passover of the Jews was near. And Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

All genuine truths have within them their own good, or in other words if we receive truth, we can know it is true because it will make a demand on our life for a response, and its good is found in this. This is why there is a movement from Cana to Capernaum – the truths received as wine in the state of mind called Cana demand a response or movement to a state called Capernaum. For every Cana-like state or the state of enlightenment and insight, if genuine, leads to a state of action that brings about changes on a more external level of the mind as represented by Capernaum.

Capernaum has a double meaning. It can mean village or field of comfort or consolation, or it can mean village or field of repentance. This double meaning is further reinforced in Matthew’s Gospel (4:13) where it is said of Capernaum that it lies between the borders of Zebulon and Naphtali. Zebulon and Naphtali are two of the Israelite tribes found in the Old Testament all of which represent things that are spiritual. Zebulon means to dwell together as in marriage and so corresponds to things to do with love and hence Zebulon is connected with the first meaning of Capernaum as a village of comfort or consolation. Naphtali on the other hand means to wrestle or to twist and carries the idea of stress and strain associated with the processes of spiritual temptation, so it relates to the second meaning of Capernaum as a village or field of repentance.

When the Word’s light shines into our life, we see those things in our lower mind that we need to begin to change if we want to become more responsive to the Word. However, it is left to us to act in freedom from the insights that we have gained so that our life might become a reflection of the life that truths teach. The Lord can’t effect any real change in our life unless we respond to do what it is His Word is telling us to do. We have in our possession all that we need to follow the Word and, in this story, this is seen in that it isn’t just Jesus who makes this journey from Cana to Capernaum. There are others with Him also…

He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples.

To the natural man these are simply individuals who are associated with the historical Jesus. But for the spiritual man these people speak of spiritual relationships between aspects of our mental life that are connected and related to each other by the presence of the Word within it.

For the Word to move and create new states of life within us various supporting elements are needed within the mind that can assist to bring what is spiritual to bear on our natural states of life. These are called mother, brothers, and disciples. Previously we looked at what is meant by Jesus’s mother, that this term describes the church or mind, for this is what the church is, it is the human mind which becomes a church when it is led by an affection for truth.  So it is because it is in the affection for truth that the Lord is conceived and brought forth as the church within the human mind. Without this affection from the Lord, we would have no desire for truth or the things of the spirit. When this affection for truth called Jesus’s mother is present in the mind, then there is a capacity granted by the Lord for understanding the Word. As this understanding is built up in the things of the Word, an increasing desire for understanding the Word produces offspring, which further gives us a greater capacity for good. Because this good is the product of truth from the Word it is described in natural human terms in the literal sense by family relationships.

Spiritually however, family ties represent ties of love and so in the Word relational terms describe how the things of the mind are drawn into their relationships by their relationship to the Word as the Lord. So when we read of the brothers of Jesus we understand bonds of affection tied to our understanding of the Word and these bonds are goods from the Lord to support us in our spiritual development. These affections are born from the same affection for truth, mother, that leads us to understand the Word in a deeper way, and this is why they are called the Jesus’s brethren. All goods or spiritual affections of love are from the Lord and so in this sense are related to Him as brethren to the Word.

But a desire for good without truths is powerless to bring about the changes or repentance needed for our spiritual advancement. Therefore, where there is good or a desire to live according to the Word, truths are needed to lead and direct us to bring a new level of spiritual discipline into the external level of our life. These truths are the spiritual principles given to us in the Word and are represented by the disciples who also travelled with Jesus to Capernaum.

We see then that with the coming of insight into our lives by means of the Word there is a need to respond. The Word must travel from a state of truths providing enlightenment for our life called Cana, as represented by the water being transformed into wine, into our more external level of mental life. Here the Word takes the form as responses which look to resist those things in our affections and thoughts that these insights have exposed as being not of the Lord. This is our own Capernaum state. This is how truths become goodness in their descent upon the Son of Man, on our understanding of the Word, as their foundation for our spiritual life.

After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples. And He remained there not many days. And the Passover of the Jews was near. And Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

From now on you will see Heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. (John 1:51) 

Next time we will look at the Jesus’s ascent to Jerusalem and the cleansing of the temple which represents how He works on the more interior aspects of our minds when we are willing to enter into the spiritual work of repentance as represented by Capernaum.

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