24. The Healing Of The Nobleman’s Son (4:43-54)

But after the two days, He went out from there, and went away into Galilee. For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honour in his own fatherland. Therefore, when He came into Galilee, the Galileans received Him, seeing all things which He did in Jerusalem at the Feast. For they also went to the Feast. Then Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick in Capernaum. Hearing that Jesus was coming from Judea into Galilee, this one went out to Him and asked Him that He would come and heal his son, for he was about to die. Then Jesus said to him, Unless you see miraculous signs and wonders, you will not at all believe. The nobleman said to Him, Sir, come down before my child dies. Jesus said to him, Go! Your son lives. And the man believed the word which Jesus said to him, and went away. But already, as he was going down, his slaves met him and reported, saying, Your child lives. He then asked from them the hour in which he had gotten better. And they said to him, Yesterday, at the seventh hour, the fever left him. Then the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, Your son lives. And he himself, and his whole house, believed. Again, this second miraculous sign Jesus did, coming from Judea into Galilee. (John 4:43-54)

The Lord healed [the nobleman’s son] and others according to their faith, because the first and primary thing of the church then to be established was to believe that the Lord is God Almighty, for without that faith no church could have been established. For the Lord was the God of heaven and the God of earth, with whom no conjunction is possible except by an acknowledgment of His Divinity, which acknowledgment is faith. The [nobleman in coming to the Lord]… acknowledged Him to be God Almighty…all the diseases healed by the Lord represented and thus signified the spiritual diseases that correspond to these natural diseases; and spiritual diseases can be healed only by the Lord, and in fact by looking to His Divine omnipotence and by repentance of life…the faith by which spiritual diseases are healed by the Lord can only be given through truths from the Word and a life according to them; the truths themselves and the life itself according to them make the quality of the faith…he who is in faith from the Lord asks for nothing but what contributes to the Lord’s kingdom and to himself for salvation; other things he does not wish, saying in his heart, Why should I ask for what does not contribute to this use? Therefore if he were to ask for anything except what it is granted him from the Lord to ask he would have no faith of God, that is, no faith from the Lord. It is impossible for angels of heaven to wish and so to ask for anything else, and if they were to do so they could have no faith that they would receive it. (Apocalypse Explained 815)

We have seen that the main geographical regions of the land of Canaan correspond to the different levels of life within us. And we have been following Jesus’s journey from Jerusalem in Judea to Sychar of Samaria and now we see a movement from Samaria to Cana of Galilee. The activity in Judea, which represents the affections of the will, was centred on baptism whereas the activity in Samaria, which represents the affections related to our thinking and intellect, largely took place around a conversation at a well. We find the story now entering Galilee, which represents the more external aspects of our thought and feeling life,and here we have a miraculous sign being performed.

The progression of these states offers us a picture of the process by which Divine truth makes its way from what is more interior within a us into the external levels of our life. It begins with the Lord as the Word, as Divine truth, being active within the human mind.

In the beginning was the Word

… says the opening verse of John’s Gospel – from which we learn that all beginnings in spiritual life and growth are initiated by the Divine good coming forth as the perception of truth within the human mind.

So in Jesus’s descent from Judea to Galilee we have illustrated the same process of incarnation that is outlined in the opening chapter of John, of the Word becoming flesh and His glory being revealed. Only here, the principles are connected more directly to the processes of our regeneration. In the order of descent, from Judea to Galilee, we have described how the Lord reveals His power in our life and our part in that process. In the disciples baptising in Judea, we have illustrated the need to use truths to have our affections purified. What prevents us from seeing the Lord as the Word are the falsities that cling to the evils in our life and unless these are removed, we will struggle to see Him. We can see this illustrated in our own experience.

When we are caught up in negative emotions and they cloud our thinking faculties, we enter into a kind of temporary insanity as our perspective becomes warped and we can’t see beyond our own hurt, or anger, or disappointment, or whatever other difficult emotion we are struggling with. When we allow such emotions to take control, we are unable to think clearly or rationally, in other words we fail to see what truth is applicable in the situation because we can’t get in touch with what is good. And as the Lord is both truth and good, our inability to connect with these in the midst of our emotional storm is an inability to connect with the Lord. We are blind to His presence with us.

What is not so easy to see is how this works on a deeper level for there are beliefs in the natural man, the natural mind, that are simply false, and they serve to hide from us the evils of the proprium. These false beliefs prevent us from seeing the extent and true nature of the selfish tendencies that the hellish proprium would have us engage in. And it is this state of deception that prevents us from seeing the presence of the Lord’s truth and goodness in any the circumstances and situations which we encounter in our life.

So one of the important functions of Divine revelation is to make us aware of this state of our inner life because in and of ourselves we are blind to it. But Divine revelation is useless to us if we don’t recognise that it is in fact the Lord Himself with us. We have to give the Word Divine status if we want to see the transforming power of the Lord’s love released into our life.

Why? Because Divine revelation teaches us how things really are inwardly and how it really is, is not how our proprium sees things. So until we acknowledge that the Word is the Lord, we are at the mercy of our proprium’s judgement as to what we will accept or not accept from it. It is not for us to sit in judgement of the truths that Spiritual Christianity offers us and whether they agree with how we see things or not. We have to realise that in spiritual matters we are blind and until we see that the Word is the light that opens our understanding, we will continue to walk in the darkness of our own self intelligence and pride. We have to be prepared to let go of our own ideas and learn to see things from the perspective that the Word offers.

Our willingness to do this enables the Lord to enter our life because we are then open to what doctrines for Spiritual Christianity teach concerning ourselves and the nature of Divine Life.  And when we take these into our life and live from them, we are effectively taking the Lord into our life.

Can we not now see that it is this willingness to allow truths to begin to work in our life that initiates a baptism or cleansing of our affections? For this attitude of willingness and openness enables the Lord to draw to Himself those affections for good and truth that He has planted within our minds.  As these come forth into consciousness, we are given new motivations and desires that orientate our minds in a favourable way toward heavenly modes of life. This is what is spiritually described in the baptism of many in Judea by the Jesus’s disciples at the beginning of this chapter(John 4:1).

As new motivations and desires begin to awaken within, we are then given the ability to recognise the difference between what is of the Lord and what is of the self. This desire for what is higher which is given to us by the Lord, causes the mind to begin to clarify its thought structures, its beliefs and ideas concerning what living a spiritual life means. We develop a need for understanding this better and so we find that we have a growing thirst for engaging with the Word, that is, with the Bible and the doctrines for Spiritual Christianity, for what it can teach us. In the Word we are given what can satisfy our deepest yearnings. In Judea the focus was on the purification of the affections for what is good, but once we begin to look to the Word to build our understanding, we move into states involving the development of truths in our mind.  This was what was represented by Jesus being by the well in Samaria, for a well or fountain corresponds to the Word and its doctrine. Here, from the well of the Word, we learn what love is. We learn that the spiritual life is a balance between knowing and doing and that just seeking to satisfy a purely intellectual hunger is not enough – that we need to respond to truth as a matter of life.

Here, in the Samaritan woman, is illustrated the awakening of an affection for truth that is orientated towards good, towards a desire to be useful. This naturally flows on into a desire to bring what is of the Lord into the most external reaches of our life, into our awareness in our thoughts and its affections. So now, moving into the more external natural part of the mind where this can be realised, we have Jesus going into Galilee which is the region of Canaan that corresponds to the good of life.

For a person to become spiritual, the natural level of the mind must be regenerated. This means that the Lord has to rule there with authority and with power.

… that a prophet has no honour in his own fatherland.

This statement reveals the state of the level of our natural mind in relation to spiritual influence. For a prophet is the mouthpiece of God and as such represents what the Lord teaches through doctrine. The natural level of our mind is inherently resistant to the authority of spiritual teaching because spiritual truths call it to account. They ask it to face its states of brokenness and fragmentation and to cast itself upon the Lord.

So in Jesus stating that a prophet has no honour in his own fatherland He is saying that dependence on our natural faculties means there is a struggle to get beyond a natural understanding of the Word. That we will struggle to get beyond its literal meanings to see its spiritual meaning. For to enter into the spirit of the Word is not an intellectual exercise, it is an exercise of the will as a response to truth. It is a willingness to take these things into our life, for when they are in our life then our spiritual sight can be opened.

To have spiritual insight is to have an understanding of what lies within the Word, and this comes from living from it. We can see this in the fact that the preparation for Jesus being received in Galilee begins with a feast in Jerusalem which is in Judea which, as we have seen, relates to the will or affections. We read of this preparation…

Therefore, when He came into Galilee, the Galileans received Him, seeing all things which He did in Jerusalem at the Feast. For they also went to the Feast.

Feasts played an important part in Jewish religious life. Because they were times of festivity focussed on the Lord and involved the taking in of food and drink for the body, they corresponded to the reception of the life the Lord offers as the Word, as food and drink for our spiritual life. The Galileans represents those aspects of ourselves that are open to taking in goods and truths from the Word in the natural level of our mind. They have a connection to Jerusalem which is an elevated city and so have connection to the more inner or celestial teachings which are able to receive the influx of the Lord’s life. To affirm truths and live from them is to be at the feast, for spiritually to feast is to take truths into the life so that the goodness in them is released to nourish our spirits. The Galilean elements in us are built up and we are made receptive to the Lord on the more external plane of our life when on a deeper level we have cultivated a desire for the practise of heavenly things. From this there develops an ability to recognise and receive the Lord which is to see Him in the Word.

When we are in Galilee, we are in the realm of useful activity which has spiritual ends in view. This is a desire to see spiritual principles as the mode of life from which we live and as this flows through into the externals of our life, so the Lord is brought down into the lower sphere of our mind. In the Text this is described as Jesus returning to Cana of Galilee, the place where He changed water into wine, where a natural understanding of the Word is transformed into something spiritual. This is the point of meeting, the point of spiritual transformation and power in the natural levels of existence and is determined by how we see and understand the Word.

The precursor to the Jesus’s presence in Cana was the confession of those in Samaria,

And they were saying to the woman, We no longer believe because of your speech; for we ourselves have heard, and we know that this One is truly the Savior of the world, the Christ. (verse 42)

The Word is the Christ. Without seeing this the Lord remains distant for us, we see Him as someone separated from the very Word we have in our possession, and we don’t appreciate just how close He is to us. Cana is the place of marriage, the place where love and wisdom comes together in uses that look to spiritual wholeness in our life through the application of the Word. This focus on using the Word in our life is married to the Lord’s desire for the salvation of the human race and when this is becoming something more conscious in the natural mind, then the state of mind is called Cana. It is a state in which the Lord is present and active within us. Our desire to be more loving and understanding is captured by the nobleman coming to Jesus because his son is sick in Capernaum.

Hearing that Jesus was coming from Judea into Galilee, this one went out to Him and asked Him that He would come and heal his son, for he was about to die.

If you recall Capernaum has a double meaning, it means field of consolation and it also means field of repentance. To be consoled in spiritual matters is to see our desire for spiritual loves to rule over natural selfish loves fulfilled. This is only possible through repentance, or metanoia, which literally means change of mind. This place of transformation is Cana, and it is to Cana that the nobleman is drawn. For he hears that the Lord is coming from Judea into Galilee. This nobleman is our desire for the Lord to be present in the lowest levels of our life and because he is said to hear of Jesus, he represents our obedience to the understanding of the truths that we have, for in the Word to hear spiritually is to obey.

The literal story gives us insight into the process whereby the Lord can bring His life down into us but first there must be a recognition of our state of life without Him. Because the nobleman represents our desire to have goodness rule in our life, he also represents our sensitivity to what prevents this. He is our perception that all is not well and that our tendency to live our own life apart from the Lord means that the truths that we have are on the verge of dying.

This is the son caught in the clutches of a fever. The fever corresponds to a lack of goodness due to active selfish tendencies that need to be removed from our life. These lusts or evils feverishly undermine our spiritual health and wellbeing by drawing our attention away from the Word as the source of authority for living a spiritual life. The son represents truths that need to be brought into connection with the Lord so that we can apply ourselves to the tasks of self examination and repentance. This can be seen from the fact that the son is in Capernaum or the field of repentance.

Without our acknowledgement of our state of spiritual sickness the Lord can’t do anything for us for we don’t see that we have any need for Him. So it is the father that seeks the Lord out because a father represents a will for good and it is this that seeks out the truth as expressed in his urging of Jesus to…

come down before my child dies.

In those being regenerated this is a desire for the Lord to descend into the more external areas of life where His presence is needed. To acknowledge the states of selfishness that belongs to the proprium is the first step to recovery and wholeness. This acknowledgement can only be made from the light that the teachings for Spiritual Christianity shine upon our states. And it’s an acknowledgement that comes from a recognition that the Word alone has the power to heal every spiritual ailment.

What draws Jesus and the sick son, that is, what draws the Word and our finite understanding of truth into connection is the father which is the desire for goodness. In this father coming to Jesus, we have pictured representatively our need to come to the Word by acknowledging that all good and truth is from the Lord alone. This acknowledgement is a recognition in life that the Lord is the Word and that it alone can penetrate to the depths of our being and so bring healing to the troubled minds of all. We are explicitly told in the opening verses of John’s Gospel that God was the Word – that God IS the Word. When this is truly seen we have the beginnings of a genuine new church within the mind, and it is this faith that will see the Lord respond to our request by saying…

Go! Your son lives…

In these words, we see that when the Word is acknowledged and we give it its rightful place then those truths that lacked the power of life receive into themselves the influx of the Lord’s own life. A new quality of faith or belief is born within the heart.

And they said to him, Yesterday, at the seventh hour, the fever left him. Then the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, Your son lives. And he himself, and his whole house, believed.

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