The Healing of Jairus’ Daughter

READINGS

Mark 5:21-24 & 35-43

21 And at Jesus’ ferrying again in the ship to the other side a vast throng was gathered to Him, and He was beside the sea.”

22 And lo! coming is one of the chiefs of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and, perceiving Him, he is falling at His feet.” 23 And he is entreating Him much, saying that “My little daughter is having her last gasp! that, “Coming, Thou mayest be placing Thy hands on her, that she may be saved and should be living!” 24 And He came away with him, and a vast throng followed Him, and they crowded Him.”

35 While He is still speaking, they are coming from the chief of the synagogue, saying that “Your daughter died. Why are you still bothering the Teacher?
36 Yet Jesus immediately, disregarding the word spoken, is saying to the chief of the synagogue, “Do not fear! Only believe!”
37 And He does not let anyone follow together with Him except Peter and James and John, the brother of James.” 38 And they are coming into the house of the chief of the synagogue, and He is beholding a tumult, and they are lamenting much and screaming.” 39 And entering, He is saying to them, “Why are you making a tumult and lamenting? The little girl did not die, but is drowsing.”
40 And they ridiculed Him. Yet He, ejecting them all, is taking along the father of the little girl and the mother and those with Him, and He is going in where the little girl was lying.” 41 And, holding the hand of the little girl, He is saying to her, “Talitha, coumi!(which is, being construed, “Maiden, I am saying to you, rouse!”).” 42 And straightway the maiden rose and walked about, for she was about twelve years old. And they were beside themselves, straightway, with great amazement.” 43 And He cautions them much that no one may be knowing of this. And He told them to give her something to eat.

Arcana Coelestia 2338

…temptations involve feelings of doubt regarding the Lord’s presence and mercy, and also regarding His salvation. The evil spirits who are present with man at such times and who are the cause of temptation do all they can to infuse a negative outlook, but good spirits and angels from the Lord in every way disperse that doubting attitude, all the time preserving a feeling of hope and in the end strengthening an affirmative outlook. Consequently a person undergoing temptation hangs between a negative outlook and an affirmative outlook. Anyone who gives way in temptation remains in a doubting, and sinks into a negative, frame of mind, whereas one who overcomes still experiences feelings of doubt; yet he who allows himself to be filled with hope remains steadfastly in an affirmative outlook. Because man seems during such conflict to urge the Lord, especially through prayers, to be at hand, to take pity, to bring help, and to free from condemnation…

SERMON

All the healings that are recorded in the Word are recorded to illustrate for us spiritual conditions and afflictions that those who seek to live a spiritual life need to work through if they are to become whole.  Jairus and his daughter represent a state in which our affection for spiritual things (represented by the daughter) is found not to be what it ought to be, being described in the text as, “at the point of death.”  This death is due to proprial influences which uses spiritual things for its own ends.  In this story we see how the Lord is works to bring the things of the natural man under the authority of the spiritual man in all those who seek to live a spiritually focused life.

The general state of mind represented in this story is one in which we begin to realise that our motivations in our pursuit of the spiritual life have much of the loves of self and the world in them.  This is represented by Jairus’ daughter’s being on point of death.  The name Jairus comes from the Hebrew word meaning light and light as we know corresponds to the things of the understanding.  From this we can see that he must represent something to do with a person’s understanding of spiritual things.  Indeed there are a few other factors that confirm this in our story today.  He is described as a chief or ruler of the Synagogue and a synagogue is a place of instruction in divine things, his daughter is said to be 12 years old and the Heavenly Doctrine instructs us that the number 12 represents all the things of faith belonging to a church seen as a whole.

So Jairus represents an understanding of spiritual things that seeks the Lord or looks to the Word in order to have the affections of the heart represented by his daughter purified from the loves of self and the world.  The daughter is in the clutches of death and death spiritually speaking is the effect of the loves of self and the world, for these oppose the inflow of the Lord’s life.  This story lays out for us the means by which we are able to overcome these tendencies and enter more fully into the spiritual life.

What we are shown through Jairus is that it begins with making sincere efforts to build our understanding of the Word and what it means to live a spiritual life.  Where by a spiritual life is understood a life of self-examination and repentance or the application of truths from the Word to the life of the mind.  It is this that leads to the strengthening of heavenly loves from which we are given insight into the quality of the states of our thoughts and affections and whether they support or resist the inflowing life of the Lord.

This process of insight is illustrated by Jairus coming to the Lord. Here is a recognition on our part that without the Word we are powerless to live the spiritual life.  The other side to this fact is that the Word can do nothing for us if we remain passive in our engagement with it.  Spiritual wholeness is only possible when we seek to apply the principles we find in the Word to life of our mind so that we can come to see for ourselves not just that the Word is true but how it is true for us in our personal experience of it. When Jairus perceived the Lord we are told that he fell at His feet. When we look into these stories from the Word to find their inner meaning or application to the life of our mind we are spiritually falling at the Lord’s feet for His “feet” represent the letter of the Word by which we have direct access to the Lord Himself who is the spiritual sense of the Word.

We see then it’s vital that if the Word is to have influence in our life we need to compel ourselves to set time aside to engage with it with a view to seeing our life in the light of what it teaches.  Doing this invites the Lord as the Word into the house of our mind where He can dispel those things that oppose the loves of heaven and restore our affection for His Word; This is the raising of Jairus’ daughter.

But before Jesus gets to Jairus’ house we read that

While [Jesus] was still speaking some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead.  Why trouble the Teacher any further?” v35

This illustrates that while we are in states of obedience and having to compel ourselves to maintain our spiritual focus in the Word we can expect to experience doubts.  It seems like we are never going to get to where we feel we should be.  Thoughts arise within – it’s hopeless, why study the Word, you haven’t changed; it’s a waste of effort.  This is the nature of the struggle.  In the Greek this dynamic is brought out much more forcefully.  The verse literally reads;

They are coming from the chief of the synagogue saying that, “The daughter of you has died.  Are you still flaying the teacher?”

You’ll notice that in the original text there is no mention of the chief of the synagogue’s house – rather it simply says that these messengers come from the chief of the synagogue himself.  Thus the literal rendering gives insight into the spiritual process for what comes out of an understanding struggling to integrate spiritual principles into life are doubts, doubts regarding the outcome.  The Lord is described here as the teacher, and of course for us this is the Word for through it the Lord teaches all who seek Him.  This idea of “flaying the teacher” speaks of our own struggle to see what lies beneath the surface meaning of the text in an effort to see how it can be applied to our inner life. But despite the struggle the spiritual meaning, the Lord is always there, even if we can’t see Him.  The struggle to see the Lord in the Word is purely a result of the difficulty we have of separating from the lower things of life.  Yet He is faithful and will not leave or forsake those who seek Him with their whole heart.

Everyone seeking to live a spiritual life will find that the loves of self and the world constantly work to frustrate any progress.  These loves continually make their presence felt in our emotions and thoughts highlighting our short comings, emphasising anything that will cause us to feel it’s not worth the effort  – when these loves know their life is under threat they muster every device, every false idea, and negative feeling as their ally looking to draw us away from, or give up on, the spiritual practise of examining our mental life in the light of our understanding of the Word.  The story teaches us that those who remain in the Word are steadied in the face of despair and are not left without support, for to such the Word speaks saying;

Do not be afraid: only believe.

This speaking of the Word to counter the doubts that arise at such times is not necessarily something literally read, although it certainly can be.  The important thing here is the cultivation of a general discipline over time of reading and meditating on the Word with a view to using the insights we receive to assess the quality of our mental life.  This work opens our minds to receiving influx from the Lord through the heavens, and it is this influx that counters the activity of negative selfish influences and holds the mind secure in times of temptation and struggle in the spiritual life.  It is the Word’s presence in our minds through its practise that provides a constant barrier of resistance to hellish forces that are constantly looking for opportunities to bring disorder into our life.  This support is expressed here in Jesus’ words to the ruler of the synagogue of not to be afraid but to believe.

We know that the daughter here is an affection for the things of spiritual life because she is Jairus’ daughter and is to be found in his house.  Our affections are seated in the will and a house in the Word corresponds to the will.  A house is where we live and therefore spiritually represents the most intimate part of ourselves where the very essence of our life is placed.  Jesus in taking Peter, James and John into house illustrates that it is the practice of the Word represented by the Lord coming into the house that integrates the principles of spiritual life represented by these three disciples into the very core of our life.  As these principles enter deeper into our life so the intensity of the hell’s resistance increases.  The house is said to be in a tumult, full of people weeping and wailing loudly to which Jesus responds saying…

He is saying to them, “Why are you making a tumult and lamenting? The little girl did not die, but is drowsing.”  v39

The scene is chaotic and confusing as expressions of grief, loss and hopelessness fill the air.  The appearance is that He is too late.  Everything about the scene confirms the appearance that the daughter is dead.  Our senses tell us all is lost, yet the Word has presence, our senses draw us into doubt and unbelief, yet the Word is able to draw our attention to the reality of the situation.  “The child is not dead, but sleeping”.  If ever there was a glimmer of hope, a word of comfort then here it is.  When we feel we are losing ground in our motivations for spiritual things, and are able to recognise this, it’s time to seek the Lord’s assistance.  As we look to engage with the Word He draws near and while it might feel as though He is far from us we have assurance from the Word that in these times He is in fact at His closest.  The senses laugh Him to scorn because He cannot be seen or felt, the idea that there is a living affection for spiritual things seems ludicrous in the face of what we feel.  The Word teaches one thing, and our feelings tell us another and we feel caught in-between.  We must hold to the Word if we are to maintain a correct perspective, yes our affection for higher things may feel dead, but it is only sleeping.  What could the Lord possibly mean in saying this?

Spiritual temptation describes the mental stresses experienced when there is a fundamental shift taking place in a person’s being.  To have true principles established as the centre of our life means that false ones need to be displaced.  Temptation describes this process.  It is an inner process by which established ways of thinking that can no longer support our ongoing inner development are being removed so that new truths can be implanted. Part of this struggle includes working to hold in check and examine beliefs we recognise to be false or opposed to what truths from the Word teach.  The Word tells us that the affection for truth represented by the daughter is not dead but sleeping.  If a person is making sincere efforts to engage with the Word as the basis for their life then, while there may be times when their affection for spiritual things seems weak to the point of having left them, this is merely an appearance that rises from being caught up in a spiritual battle where the lower aspects of our nature seem to be so much more to the fore than the things of the Word.

If we hang onto to this understanding of spiritual temptation then we hang onto a truth from the Word by which the thoughts and emotions that are closely tied to our senses can be dispelled.  So we see that the Lord “casts out” those who are weeping and wailing, for the presence of truths from the Word means that they can no longer dominate the situation.  With calm restored He gently takes the girl by the hand and awakens her to life.  So too is our affection for the spiritual life reawakened after periods of temptation.

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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