The Healing of the Dumb Demoniac: Confessing the Lord

Dumb Demoniac Audio

READINGS

Matthew 9:18-36
18 ​​​While He spoke these things unto them, behold a ruler coming worshiped Him, saying, My daughter is now dead; but come, lay Thy hand upon her, and she shall live. 19 ​​​And Jesus arising followed him, and His disciples. 20 ​​​And behold, a woman who was diseased with an issue of blood for twelve years, coming from behind, touched the hem of His garment; 21 ​​​for she said in herself, If I may only touch His garment, I shall be healed . 22 ​​​And° Jesus turning and seeing her, said, Have confidence, daughter, thy faith has saved thee; and the woman was healed  from that hour. 23 ​​​And Jesus coming into the ruler’s house, and seeing the pipers, and the crowd making a noise, 24 ​​​says to them, Depart; for the damsel is not dead, but sleeps; and they laughed at Him. 25 ​​​But° when the crowd was cast out, entering in He took hold of her hand, and the damsel arose. 26 ​​​And this | fame went forth into all that land. 27 ​​​And Jesus passing by thence, two blind men followed Him, crying and saying, Have mercy on us, Son of David. 28 ​​​And° when He had come to the house, the blind men came to Him, and Jesus says to them, Do you believe that I am able to do this? They say unto Him, Yes, Lord. 29 ​​​Then He touched their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. 30 ​​​And their eyes were opened, and Jesus admonished them, saying, See that you let no one know. 31 ​​​But° they going out spread His fame in all that land. 32 ​​​And° as they went out, behold they brought unto Him a man dumb, demon-possessed. 33 ​​​And when the demon was cast out, the dumb spoke, and the crowds marvelled, saying that it never so appeared in Israel. 34 ​​​But° the Pharisees said, In the prince of demons He casts out demons. 35 ​​​And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease, and every infirmity, in the people. 36 ​​​And° seeing the crowds He was moved with compassion concerning them, because they were faint and scattered abroad, as sheep not having a shepherd.

Arcana Coelestia  6988
Utterance is not used here to mean utterance made by the voice, which is speech, for that kind of utterance is natural. Instead utterance is used to mean confession of the Lord and declaration of faith in Him, since this kind of utterance is spiritual. From this it is evident what ‘the dumb’ means in the internal sense, namely people who, owing to lack of knowledge, are unable to confess the Lord or for that reason declare faith in him. This is the state of gentiles outside the Church and also of the simple within the Church. The fact that these kinds of people are meant by ‘the dumb’ is evident in Isaiah,

Then will the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb will sing. For waters will break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the plain of the wilderness. Isa. 35:5-6.

‘The tongue of the dumb will sing’ stands for the fact that they will confess the Lord and the things that belong to faith in Him. ‘Waters will break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the plain of the wilderness’ stands for the fact that cognitions of what is true and good will come to them, ‘the wilderness’ being a state in which cognitions of faith are lacking because they are unknown.

[2] The dumb who were healed by the Lord also mean gentiles who were delivered through His Coming into the world from falsities and consequent evils, such as the one who was ‘dumb’ in Matthew,

Behold, they brought to Him a dumb man (homo), possessed by a demon; but when the demon had been cast out the dumb [man] spoke. Matt. 9:32, 37.

And another who was ‘dumb’ in the same gospel,

One was brought to Jesus, possessed by a demon, blind and dumb; and He healed him, so that the blind and dumb [man] both spoke and saw. Matt. 12:22.

The ‘dumb’ [boy] also possessed by a demon in Mark 9:17-30 has the same meaning.

[3] It should be recognized that the miracles performed by the Lord were all signs indicating the state of the Church and of the human race saved through His Coming into the world; that is to say, when He came those people were delivered from hell who received the faith going with charity. These matters are incorporated in the Lord’s miracles.

SERMON
When we view the series of miracles the Lord performed over the course of this chapter from Matthew’s Gospel we see a clear progression relating to the regeneration of the human mind by the Word of God.  The order of the miracles progress as follows.  First we have the healing of the woman with the issue of blood, then the raising of Jairus’ daughter,  which is followed by the healing of the two blind men, and finally we come to the account of the healing of this man who is dumb and possessed of a devil.  We read in the Arcana Coelestia 7337 that…

All miracles which the Lord Himself wrought when He was in the world signified the coming state of the church; thus that the eyes of the blind were opened and the ears of the deaf, that the tongues of the dumb were loosed, that the lame walked, and the maimed and also the lepers were healed, signified that such men as are represented by the blind, deaf, dumb, lame, maimed, and leprous, would receive the gospel and be spiritually healed, and this through the coming of the Lord into the world. Such are Divine miracles in their internal form.

We see here that all the miracles wrought by the Lord when he was in the world signified the coming state of the church.  That it was to be made whole and be born anew through His coming into the world.  These miracles prefigured in the natural world what the Lord would accomplish in the spiritual world through His second coming.  For his second coming is accomplished through a spiritual understanding of the Word.  While the miracles wrought by the Lord when He was in the world were directed at natural afflictions and diseases the reason for them was to represent, on the natural level of life, what the Word seeks to accomplish in the mind or spirit of anyone who is willing to acknowledge that the Word is the Lord through the practise of its truths.

The “coming state of the church” referred to here on the level of the individual refers to the state of the relationship each of us has to the Word.  The Word for us being the texts of Divine Revelation found in the Bible and the Heavenly Doctrine, which is provided so that we can be transformed from a state of being naturally minded into a state of being spiritually minded.  This is stated directly by Paul in His letter to the Roman Church where we read,

I am entreating you brethren… not to conform to this age but to be transformed through the renewing of your mind… Rom 12:2

To receive the gospel and so be spiritually healed means to receive the Word as something living and vital for our life.  If the Word is not being practised then our mind or spirit can’t be renewed, and if it isn’t being renewed through practise then it will be something that conforms to the spirit of the age and worldly concerns.  Without a conscious effort to bring the Word into our life we will be continually drawn into identifying with the stream of the values and ideas that the world and natural life promotes.  The spiritual life is a call to a higher level of life than that offered by the world, and we have been provided with all that we need in order for that life to become a reality for us, but its realisation comes with a cost and that cost is best expressed in the Gospels where the Lord says…

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his practice (Gk praxis).  Matt 16:24-27.

In our reading from Matthews Gospel today we have a wonderful series of healings which when taken together describe the process those who practise the Word find themselves passing through as they are regenerated by the Lord.

It begins with the coming of a ruler of the synagogue to Jesus to beseech him to come and raise his twelve year old daughter who had died (Matt 9:18-19; 23-25).   The ruler of the synagogue is a father and as a father represents the love for the good that spiritual teaching can produce in peoples’ lives.  The daughter as the object of this deepest affection has died and his distress represents a state that arises in those who, through choosing to engage with the Word to reflect on their inner life, are confronted by the horror of the evils and falsities of their proprium.  Reflection in the spiritual life brings into our awareness attitudes and ways of operating that we have been blind to.   This is often the cause of great anxiety for seeing things in our mental life that we know have no place in the kingdom of heaven calls into question the image we carry concerning ourselves.  Before regeneration can take place any idea we carry of being good in ourselves must be removed.  The Lord alone is good and any good the is expressed through us is the Lord working in us for of man it is said that…

…out of the heart [of man] proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, [and] blasphemies… Matt 15:19.

All spiritual aspirations tied to a false sense of goodness fail under the weight of seeing our sense of self in the light of what the Word teaches.  Yet without this seeing we will not be prepared to “lose our life in order to find it…” The trauma of this state is illustrated in this part of the story as a father’s grief over the loss of his daughter.  Spiritually this is the realisation that all pursuit of spiritual ends that come from our self is filled with evils and falsities that renders that precious affection for truth as something dead.  The spiritual life involves learning to discern what is of us (of our proprium) and what is of the Lord or Word working in us.

The next part of the story shows the way forward and what we need to attend to.  As Jesus is making his way toward the young girl the focus of the story shifts onto a woman who was suffering from a long standing hemorrhage of some twelve years (Matt 9:20-22).  We read that she approaches Him from behind believing that if she can but touch the hem of His garment she will be cured.  The events are clearly linked through the number 12.  The young girl is 12 years old and the woman has had the condition for 12 years.  Both represent affections for truth, the girl, what is more interior, and the woman, what is more exterior.  What these stories teach is that when we lack motivation, when we struggle to hold onto a sense of the spiritual, when we feel that the Word is dry and unable to meet us in our difficulties, when we feel that life is against us, we can still compel ourselves to stay in connection with the Word.  The solution is illustrated in the actions of the woman, who pressed on through the crowd to touch the hem of the Lord’s garment.  Like her we too will find there are times when we have to make a concerted effort to press through the lower level thoughts and affections that tend to crowd out higher things and drain our motivation to stay in connection with the Word.

It is through the letter of the Word that we can be connected to its spiritual sense and thus to the Lord Himself as that sense.  The fact that the young girl wasn’t raised until after this woman was healed speaks to the spiritual law that the Lord works from primes through ultimates (AR 31).  In other words for the Lord to raise an interior affection for truth we have to be working to engage with the Word on a more external level (see the OT story of Leah and Rachael).  It is only as we engage with the texts of divine revelation with a view to apply them to our life that the exterior things of the natural mind can be put in order that a deeper more interior affection for the things of the Word can be raised up in us.

Once the affections have been purified by the Word we find the story shifts to the healing of the two blind men.  We dealt with this story in detail last time so we won’t spend too much time on it here other than to point out that with the blind men the focus shifts from the things of the affections to the things of the understanding.   With the healing of the affections there is the need for a new understanding of Word that can better support the regeneration process.  The two blind men’s recognition of the Lord and that He was able to heal them represents our recognition that the Word is able to provide us with a new understanding of truth on the one hand and a new understanding of love or goodness on the other.

The final healing connected to a specific individual in this series is that of the dumb demoniac.

32 ​​​And° as they went out, behold they brought unto Him a man dumb, demon-possessed. 33 ​​​And when the demon was cast out, the dumb spoke, and the crowds marveled, saying that it never so appeared in Israel.  Matt 9:32-33.

…what ‘the dumb’ means in the internal sense, namely people who, owing to lack of knowledge, are unable to confess the Lord or for that reason declare faith in him.  AC 6988

The inability to speak represents an inability to confess the Lord due to a lack of knowledge.  Speech spiritually corresponds to thought and so the inability to speak signifies an inability to give expression to spiritual realities due to a lack of that understanding that only comes from application of doctrine to life.  The only way that a person can confess the Lord or the Word is if they are living a spiritual life that involves self-examination and repentance for it is through this activity that they come to know the power of the Word in their life.  To confess the Lord is to be in the process of building our life on what the Word teaches and rejecting all that comes from our self as evil and false.  It is truth from the Word that enlightens the mind and shows up the quality of its life and activity.  If our thoughts are to be expressive of the Lord and so reflective of the life of heaven falsities and the evils that come from them have to first be removed and this is only possible through the practise of the Word.  It is practise and practise alone that breaks our attachment to the false beliefs of the proprium that arise from the appearances of the senses.  May we look to the Word for our life, and may our life be an expression that confesses the goodness of our God.

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his practice… Matt 16:27

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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