27. The Word’s Testimony Concerning Itself (Jn 5:15-20)

John Chapter 5:15-20
The man went away and told the Jews that Jesus is the One making him well. (16) And because of this, the Jews persecuted Jesus and lusted to kill Him, because He did these things on a sabbath. (17) But Jesus answered them, My Father works until now, and I work. (18) Because of this, therefore, the Jews lusted the more to kill Him, for not only did He break the sabbath, but also called God His own Father, making Himself equal to God. (19) Then Jesus answered and said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, The Son is not able to do anything from Himself, except what He may see the Father doing; for whatever that One does, these things also the Son does likewise. (20) For the Father loves the Son and shows to Him all things which He does. And He will show Him greater works than these in order that you may marvel.

Apocalypse Explained 815c[11] by Emanuel Swedenborg
…saving faith, … is to believe in the Lord; and to believe in Him is also to believe in the Father, because He and the Father are one. “To believe in the Lord” signifies not only to adore and worship Him, but also to live from Him, and one lives from Him when he lives according to the Word which is from Him; therefore “to believe in Him” is to believe that He regenerates man, and gives eternal life to those who are regenerated by Him.

Arcana Coelestia 3704. by Emanuel Swedenborg
the Lord’s Divine…is…distinguished into Divine Good and Divine Truth – the Lord’s Divine Good being called ‘the Father’, and His Divine Truth ‘the Son’. Yet the Lord’s Divine is nothing else than Good, indeed it is Good itself; but Divine Truth is the Lord’s Divine Good as it presents itself visually in heaven….[2] So essentially the Lord is nothing else than Divine Good, and this applies to both essentials – to the Divine itself and to the Divine Human. Divine Truth however does not exist within Divine Good but flows from it, for as stated above, Divine Truth is the Divine Good presenting itself visually in heaven. Now because Divine Good presents itself as Divine Truth, therefore the Lord’s Divine is distinguished, to enable man to grasp it mentally, into Divine Good and Divine Truth, Divine Good being called in the Word ‘the Father’ and Divine Truth ‘the Son’. This is the arcanum that lies behind the Lord Himself on so many occasions speaking of His Father as though He were separate from and so to speak One other than Himself, and yet at other times speaking of His being one with Himself….’The Father’ is used here, as has been stated, to mean the Divine Good and ‘the Son’ the Divine Truth, both being within the Lord. From Divine Good, which is ‘the Father’, nothing but what is Divine is able to proceed or come forth, and that which proceeds or comes forth is Divine Truth, which is ‘the Son’.


 

The events surrounding the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda leads us into a block of profound teaching concerning the Word. We now see that by “the Jews” we are to understand that which is within us that resists the operation of the Lord’s love by means of Divine Truth. What the spiritual sense of the Word teaches is at odds with how the natural man understands it, for the natural man believes only what is apparent to his senses and in regard to the Word of life he perceives only what is of the external letter.

The Lord in His infinite mercy has provided human kind with Heavenly Doctrines, which point to what lies within the Word, and by means of the truths revealed there provides a new understanding of the Word in which the mind can rest as a foundation for beginning to walk in a new way. To the spiritual man the Word says, “Take up your doctrine and live from it” which the natural man hears read as “take up your bed and walk”.

For having access to truths is one thing, but acknowledging them in life is another and all who would be spiritual must live from their understanding of truth. There is no life without the elevation of truths to their rightful place within the mind. For the Word is Divine Truth right down to its letter, and so must be much more than just what the letter presents to the comprehension of people in its literal sense.

The Word is the Lord’s Divine Human, through and by means of which every person who is being regenerated is saved. The natural man recoils at such a suggestion; can ideas set down on the pages of a book save a person? Well if they are regarded as nothing more than that then it remains a closed book.

But if we would consider for a moment that by the living Word becoming flesh and dwelling in our midst in the form of a natural human being, we had the Divine Truth represented to the very lowest level of human perception and that through that Divine intervention in human consciousness the human race had restored to it the idea of the Lord as a Divine Man. At first this was understood only in terms of the historical person of Jesus Christ but with the understanding of these events given through the Heavenly Doctrines we can be brought to see that everything surrounding the Lord’s life and ministry embodied on the lowest plane of human perception a representation of how the Word or the Divine Truth operates within the human mind. This incarnation did not end with person of Jesus Christ, this was its beginning, for the Divine Love is now fully present with us in the truths of the Word itself and once this is seen a person is able to perceive that the Lord is the Word and that this is the Divine in Human form.

The natural man cannot see this and regards it as a blasphemy that flies in the face of natural reason. So be it. Truths stand firm regardless of the natural mans response, or lack of affirmative response. The Jews said it is not lawful to lift ones cot on the Sabbath. This describes the unbelief that issues forth from natural reasoning in regard to the Word. The inert, rigidity of natural thought in regard to spiritual things is such that it thinks it has obtained the reality of these things when all it has is the mere husk. It places so much of its confidence in the external elements of religion that when its reliance on these is questioned by what is truly spiritual it reacts defensively by going on the attack hoping to undermine and kill off any impact a spiritual understanding of truths may have on the false security the ego or proprium creates for itself.

While human beings are in need of regeneration the Lord works, He never rests. For how can love rest when human being’s lie bound in the shackles of selfishness. No, never, the Lord’s response is emphatic;

“My Father works until now; and I work…”

Such is the nature of the Divine love, from the Prophet Isaiah we read…

Isa 40:28-31 Have you not known? Have you not heard? Jehovah, the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth; He is not faint, nor does He grow weary; there is no searching to His understanding. (29) He gives power to the faint, and to him with no vigor He increases might. (30) Even youths are faint and fatigued, and young men stumbling shall stumble; (31) but the ones waiting for Jehovah shall renew power; they shall go up with wings as the eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not be faint!

My Father works until now; and I work. When we read of people speaking or of what they have said in the Word we need to see that these words are what the Word teaches. So when we read of what the Jews say, we are given teaching as to the general sphere of thought that flows from the human proprium into the mind, and when we read of the Lord speaking we are given what the Word teaches. Don’t think of people speaking here, this is to think naturally about the Word. Think of these people and their speech as the thoughts that different qualities of affections within your own inner world give rise to and you will begin to see their inner application.

“My Father works until now, and I work”. What was it about these words that enflamed the Jews? Their response shows how this was heard by them…

Joh 5:18 Because of this, therefore, the Jews lusted the more to kill Him, for not only did He break (loose) the sabbath, but also called God His own Father, making Himself equal to God.

This response teaches us how difficult it is for the natural man to accept that the Word is not just Divine, but that IT IS THE DIVINE with us. Let’s look at this dialogue from an inner spiritual perspective. Firstly we need to drop any idea of person associated with the words; “My Father works until now, and I work”. Spiritual Christianity teaches that the term “Father” when used to refer to God means the Divine Love. The phrase “works until now” needs to be understood without reference to time because ideas of time are natural ideas; the spiritual idea is that of perpetuity or continually in the eternal now.

When we apply this to the words we have “The Divine Love or Father never ceases from its activity, or works continuously for the salvation of the human race.” This is the spiritual meaning behind these words and it’s what the Word teaches. Now in its work the Divine Love needs the means by which its presence can be received into the minds of people. If the Divine Love can’t be grasped by people so that people can be brought into an awareness of it then it can’t fulfil its purpose.

What makes us aware of the Lord’s love is the Divine Truth. For love to work it needs wisdom, for by means of wisdom truths are accommodated to the level of our being so that we can be brought into contact with the Lord on the level of life we are in. The reference to this wisdom that love needs is made in the simple statement, “…and I work”. The word “I” when read from a spiritual perspective doesn’t refer to the Lord as to His person but refers to the Lord as the Word or Divine Truth. “I” is a term of consciousness, or self reference. We can only use the word “I” if we have a sense of ourselves as existing. The phrasing in the Greek is “…and I AM working”. The Lord Himself is the only being that is self existing and as such is the only One who can truly use the phrase “I” and is certainly the only One for whom the phrase “I AM” can be applied. He is the only One who possesses a Self and so is truly conscious.

What we see then is that the Word references itself in the phrase “…and I AM working.” If Divine Love never ceases from seeking the fulfilment of its purposes then neither does the Divine Wisdom for neither can exist without the other. The Divine Wisdom contains the Divine Love and gives it expression and that love is expressed for us through the Word which is the Sacred Scriptures found in the Bible. What we are saying here is that “God is the Word.” The natural man can’t receive this and everything in the natural mind on hearing it rises up in opposition to shield itself from its implications. We read of this in verse 18 where it says;

“…the Jews (the native will) lusted all the more to kill Him (Divine Truth)”

This is the response of the corrupt will of the natural mind when it’s faced with the truth concerning itself. We don’t have to look far to find examples of this in our own life. Whenever we are faced with something we are in denial about we look to minimise its impact so we don’t have to face the truth. The native will’s natural response is to kill off that which brings up for us what we feel is too painful to face. The natural man in us uses religion to protect itself from having to confront inner states of life by creating a false sense of spiritually in its adherence to external religious activities. The Word exposes this tendency in us to conceal our evils through deriving a sense of self merit from external religious activity devoid of inner spiritual work on ourselves. It exposes our proprium for what it is, it reveals our selfish tendencies, and brings us face to face with ourselves when we are disconnected from the Lord as the Word.

But the teaching here is clear, if we want to be connected to the Lord then we have to be engaged with the Word. And to be engaged with the Word we have to be reading it and living from it in accordance with the understanding the Heavenly Doctrines offers to us. To further drive home the point that God is the Word we are offered the following statement…

Joh 5:19-20 Then Jesus answered and said to them, Truly, truly, I (am) say(ing) to you, The Son is not able to do anything from Himself, except what He may see the Father doing; for whatever that One does, these things also the Son does likewise. (20) For the Father loves the Son and shows to Him all things which He does. And He will show Him greater works than these in order that you may marvel.

Again if we think of this statement as the Word speaking to us it affirms the truth on which Spiritual Christianity is founded, that the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom are One and that these are presented to human consciousness in the Word or the Lord’s Divine Human and that this is what is meant by the name Jesus Christ. The Word speaks as the Lord’s desire for our salvation (which is what the name Jesus represents) saying “Truly, truly, I AM saying to you…” These words state that the Word is, the “I AM”, for the Word is the Divine Truth and the Divine Truth is the Divine Wisdom and the Divine Wisdom alone is able to communicate and present the Divine Love to human comprehension.

The Divine Wisdom is called the Son for it is of the Divine Love which is called the Father. Wisdom does only what love seeks to accomplish and so we read that…

The Son (or Wisdom) is not able to do anything from Himself, except what He may see the Father doing (or that which the Divine love seeks to achieve).

In the literal sense of the story we see the Jews unable to accept the implications of what Jesus was saying. The Jews in us, our natural reasoning processes also struggle to see that the Sacred Scriptures and the Lord are One. Everything in the Word points to this spiritual reality, may we come to see more fully that the wisdom that brings love into view is the Son, which is the Word, the Saviour and Redeemer of us all.

Amen.

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