The Healing of the Blind and Mute Demoniac

MATTHEW 12:22-36
Then was brought to Him a demoniac, blind and mute, and He cures him, so that the mute man is speaking and observing. And amazed are all the throngs, and they said, “Is not this the Son of David? Now the Pharisees, hearing it, said, “This man is not casting out the demons except by Beezeboul, the chief of the demons.” Now, having perceived their sentiments, He said to them, “Every kingdom parted against itself is being desolated, and every city or house parted against itself shall not stand. And if the Satan is casting out the Satan, he is parted against himself. How, then, shall his kingdom stand? “And if I, by Beezeboul, am casting out demons, by whom are your sons casting them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. “Now if, by the spirit of God, I am casting out demons, consequently the kingdom of God outstrips in time to you. Or how can anyone be entering into the house of the strong one, and plunder his gear, if ever he should not first be binding the strong one? And then he will be plundering his house. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who is not gathering with Me is scattering. “Therefore I am saying to you, Every sin and blasphemy shall be pardoned men, yet the blasphemy of the spirit shall not be pardoned. And whosoever may be saying a word against the Son of Mankind, it will be pardoned him, yet whoever may be saying aught against the holy spirit, it shall not be pardoned him, neither in this eon nor in that which is impending. “Either make the tree ideal and its fruit ideal, or make the tree rotten and its fruit rotten, for by its fruit the tree is known. Progeny of vipers! How can you be speaking what is good, being wicked? For out of the superabundance of the heart the mouth is speaking. The good man out of his good treasure is extracting good things; and the wicked man out of his wicked treasure is extracting wicked things. Now I am saying to you that, for every idle declaration which men shall be speaking, they shall be rendering an account concerning it in the day of judging.  Concordant Literal Version

ARCANA COELESTIA 6991
…such things as are signified by the “dumb,” by the “deaf,” and by the “blind,” as also by the “mouth” and by “seeing,” arise with man from the influx of life from Jehovah or the Lord. For thence arise both evils and goods with everyone; but evils from man, and goods from the Lord. That evils arise from man, is because the life which flows in from the Lord, that is, good and truth, is turned by man into evil and falsity, thus into what is contrary to life, which is called spiritual death. The case herein is like that of light from the sun, which becomes of a color in accordance with its reception by objects, some being lively and bright, and some being as it were dead and dusky. But as it appears as if the Lord brings in evil also, because He gives life, therefore from the appearance evil is attributed in the Word to Jehovah, or the Lord, as can be seen from many passages. So also in this passage it is said that “Jehovah makes what is dumb, deaf, and blind,” of which, because they arise from the influx of life from the Divine, it is said that “Jehovah makes” them; but the internal sense sets forth and teaches the thing as it is in itself, and not as it appears.

SERMON
Then was brought to Him a demoniac, blind and mute, and He cures him, so that the mute man is speaking and observing.And amazed are all the throngs, and they said, “Is not this the Son of David?

The Word of the Lord is from the Lord and therefore is divine not just in its origin but in its continued existence as the Sacred Scriptures.  This is something difficult to grasp so far as our natural mind is concerned, for when we hear the truth that the Word is the Lord stated we tend to accept that statement without really thinking through its implications.  The Heavenly Doctrine is very clear by what is meant by the Word, it is the Lord, and that in speaking of the Word they mean the Sacred Scriptures.  This presents a real challenge for natural thinking, for the Writings are asking us to accept that the very words of Scripture are in fact the fullness of the Lord present with us in a material or physical form.  But here’s the thing, in order to see this truth a person has to have first accepted what the Heavenly Doctrine’s say concerning what the Word in the form of the Sacred Scriptures is, that it is in fact the Lord presence with the human race.

Without truths we are left in falsities, just as without light we are left in darkness, and so are subject to being assailed by all manner of evils that arise from false beliefs.  These beliefs are recognisable in that they prioritise the things of self and the world over what is genuinely spiritual.  And where falsities prevail in people’s thinking there is an inability to see and speak what is true and if there is an inability to see and speak what is true then what is seen and spoken is what is false.  The term used for this state of mind in the language of Scripture is the term “demoniac.”  Don’t think that this term doesn’t apply to us, it does, for this term describes the state of every person’s understanding when it is ruled by the proprium or the loves of self and the world.  It’s important to see that the Scriptures describe psychological or spiritual states of mind.  That they have a meaning that lies beyond the literal meaning of the words and that this level of meaning, their internal or spiritual meaning, exists to support the regeneration of the human mind into a heavenly form.  If we don’t see this then we will fail to see how the teaching relates to our spiritual life.

To say that this demoniac is something in us can’t but be a shock to the natural man who from the outset is inclined to deny it.  But until we accept that we are the demoniac or at least that this demoniac describes the condition of our understanding in relation to spiritual matters, our sense of self will remain trapped in our proprial loves.  And where these loves predominate so too, we find spiritual blindness and an inability to experience the transformative power of the Word which is what it means to be spiritually mute. If we are not searching the Word to find its application to our inner life we will be unable to see what the Word has to teach us or be able to perceive what is required of us in response to the teaching.

But if we can accept what the Word teaches concerning the condition of our natural understanding then we can be cured.  When we accept what the Word teaches humility is present which means that the Word can then lift us out of our lower natural understanding of it into its own light where we are given new thoughts and perceptions that reflect a genuine spiritual perspective.  We will then no longer be mute but will be able to speak of its power from personal experience, for we are able to observe our states of mind in clearer light, which is what it means to no longer be blind.  The Lord in this story, as in every story in the Gospels, is the internal sense of the Word at work within the minds of those who are being regenerated.  In this case the demoniac describes the understanding of the natural mind beset with falsities yet carries a desire to be cured.  The afflictions of blindness and muteness spiritually describe an inability to perceive the internal sense of the Word due to the presence of falsities that keep the mind trapped in the literal sense of the Word or the sensual appearances of the letter.

This man or understanding, for a man in the language of Scripture psychologically or spiritually means the understanding, trapped in the sense of the letter of the Word is said to be “brought to Him” i.e. to the Lord as the internal sense of the Word.  The understanding is brought towards the internal meaning of the Word only as we accept what the Word teaches concerning the disordered state of our natural mind.  Acceptance of what truths teach can only occur if there is affection for them, for it is our affections that determine what we are drawn towards. This is clear in the spiritual world where the positioning of objects that make up a spirit’s sensible world reflects the strength of their affection for them. In the spiritual world what is loved most appears closer to a spirit than what is loved less.  So the demoniac being brought to Lord describes a shifting state of affection for spiritual things as the focus of the understanding is drawn towards the more internal truths of the Word as the basis for life. When these truths are integrated into the life then that understanding is cured of its blindness and is no longer mute.

We should never think that the healing of our understanding is just a matter of being able to think about and discuss truths, or that having access to the Word and the Writings is enough.  The Heavenly Doctrines teach that the processes involved in the regeneration of the human mind doesn’t just involve thinking about truths, but involves actually working with them with a view to living from them.  This involves using them to reflect on the quality of our mental life to find specific instances of the evils that are present in us so that they can be named and resisted through the work of repentance, for the Lord declares that without repentance there can be no forgiveness of sins.

When we read in the Gospels stories of the Lord healing people we find that many of the people involved appear to be passive recipients of the Lord’s grace, our story this morning being a case in point.  We see in the literal sense a man being brought to the Lord, and then the Lord cures him.  There is little indication in the letter of the man having to do anything other than somehow come into contact with the Lord and even this is done for him.  This does convey an important truth, which is, we can do nothing of ourselves – every mental and physical activity or process can only happen through influx from the Lord through the spiritual world.  With regard to the simplest movement we are completely dependent on influx – we can’t lift a finger or even blink an eyelid without it.  Yet we live in a kind of paradox, in that the way we experience our life is such that it feels like everything we do is a result of our own determination or will.  But the Word teaches that this is an appearance.  The truth is that the Lord alone possesses life and that all finite beings receive what they experience as their own life, or ability to feel, think, and act, from Him through influx.  So the Lord in His Heavenly Doctrine instructs us that we are to act as if of ourselves while acknowledging that our ability to do so is from the Lord and the Lord alone.

This truth is not found in the letter of our story today but it is found in its internal sense.  In the letter the man appears completely passive, he does nothing nor is required to do anything to receive the cure, but in the internal sense where ideas of person, space and time no longer apply the man represents the understanding which is being drawn into a closer relationship to the Word which can only mean that the affection for truth is active.  All progress in spiritual matters requires that we act from our understanding of truths as if of ourselves but in acknowledgement that this ability is from the Lord. It always feels like we are doing the acting of ourselves but the reality is, it is the affection for truth in us from the Lord that empowers us in spiritual matters and because this is from the Lord, it is the Lord who is the real actor in all things spiritual.  All truth is from the Lord and is the Lord, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life”, so the human experience of acting from what the Word teaches, as if of ourselves, is how we experience influx.  Influx from heaven always requires us to compel ourselves, so always presents in our experience as us doing the feeling, thinking and acting.  This is how the Lord flowing into the affection for truth provides us with a sense of life as if it were our own.

All this is wonderfully captured in the Greek word translated as “cured” or “healed” in our reading today.  The Greek word is, θεραπεύω (therapeuo) from which you’ll recognise we get the English word, therapy.  What’s interesting about this word are the meanings we find it associated with when we trace it back to its root.  This word has 3 basic meanings; the first has to do with service in menial things, the second has to do with the adoration of God, and the third has to do with offering relief especially from disease.  Now it shouldn’t escape us that all three meanings describe key dimensions to the spiritual life, these being service, worship, and healing.  If we dig a little deeper what we find is that the Greek root is thero which means “to heat” and heat in the Word corresponds to love.

So even in the structure of a single Greek word from its origin to its derivatives we have a word picture illustrating how love becomes expressed as service or love towards the neighbour, worship or in love to the Lord, and because it is through these things that we enter into the order of human life there is spiritual healing, or the healing of the mind.  It is in the ordinary menial things of everyday life that we find opportunities to serve or love our neighbour.  On a deeper level it is in our internal responses to external life events where we find our inner work, the kind of work that leads to the formation of a new mind, with new ways of thinking and feeling.  The nature of external life is such that everyone is involved in external uses that serve a greater sphere than themselves whether they recognise this or not.  However, loving our neighbour in external life is different to loving our neighbour internally.  To love the neighbour externally is natural and involves a focus on doing good in relation to other persons but to love the neighbour internally is spiritual and involves focusing on living from what truths teach by observing and allowing them to govern what we will identify with in regard to our emotional and intellectual life.

Without our conscious attention to this internal dimension of what it means to love the neighbour our understanding of the spiritual sense found within the Sacred Scripture remains in a state of being blind and mute.  We are challenged through this story to give attention to our inner life by approaching the Lord as the Word, and we can only do this if we are willing to acknowledge that the state of our understanding is one that is blind and mute.  Without acknowledging that we are in dire need of a deeper understanding of the Word we will fail to find the level of instruction it contains regarding the application of its truths to the interior life of the mind.  This kind of understanding is one that only develops through an intentional practise of the Word.  By compelling ourselves to engage with the Word the way is opened for the Lord to enter our hearts and heal our minds.

Then was brought to Him a demoniac, blind and mute, and He cures him, so that the mute man is speaking and observing. 

Amen

 

About David Millar

My passion revolves around supporting people to engage with the Lord's Word, or Divine truths in the form of sacred texts, to cultivate an intentional spiritual practice. Through the works penned by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) we find that the Biblical texts contain a deeper meaning that, once understood, enables them to be applied in ways that open the human mind to the realisation of its spiritual potential. The goal of the Divine Life is to free each and every human being from the pain of self centred living and bring them into the experience of all that is heavenly through the promotion of what is genuinely good and true. The material shared here is offered in the pursuit of that aim.
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