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Even people who have never read the Bible have heard of Jesus’s miracles, but he did more than turn water into wine. How could Jesus heal people with his touch? Why don’t we see similar miracles today?
Through biblical study and spiritual experiences, eighteenth-century theologian Emanuel Swedenborg learned much about this and other supernatural questions. In this episode, hosts Curtis Childs and Jonathan Rose explore his answers.
Jonathan remembers some bad habits he’s been stuck in that he finally escaped, miraculously overcoming something he felt powerless about. In a more recent example, he cut his thumb deeply and it healed in what seemed to be incredible time.
Curtis has noticed that systems that work never feel miraculous, but when they break you start to wonder at the miracle behind them. When you stop for a moment, things can come together in a eureka moment that can feel almost miraculous.
Are there still miracles today? There are certainly things that seem unexplainable, but nowadays we generally assume there is an explanation we just haven’t found yet. There seems to have been a change in our state since biblical times, when it seemed like people were doing miracles all the time.
If we’re not seeing as many obvious miracles, it could have something to do with the question of free will. Swedenborg says that if we witness a miracle, we’re almost compelled to believe, and if we believe without first thinking and accepting that faith rationally, it’s actually harmful to our spiritual development. If that blows your mind, we did a whole episode on this very concept: “Why Doesn’t God Prove That He Exists?”
But Jesus did heal people, and it told a story through correspondences, or spiritual symbolism.
As disease represented iniquity and evil in people’s spiritual life, the diseases the Lord healed symbolize deliverance from various kinds of evil and falsity that were plaguing the church and the human race and would have brought spiritual death. This is because what makes divine miracles different from other miracles is the fact that states of the church and of the heavenly kingdom are wrapped up in them and are their focus. For this reason the Lord’s miracles consisted mainly in the healing of sickness. (Secrets of Heaven §8364:6)
So Jesus wasn’t just healing the sick because he was a nice guy; he was preparing people spiritually for the rest of his mission on earth. In other words, his healing wasn’t just for the people who were cured; it was for everybody. And the specific diseases that he healed represented spiritual ailments that were afflicting the people:
Lame = governed by goodness, but lacking truth to direct that goodness
Leprous = corruption of holy things
Blind = having incorrect ideas
Deaf = no ability to perceive and obey truth
Jesus’s healing actions had correspondences, too. By healing through touch, Jesus was transferring his own goodness and love to the human race. Healing on the Sabbath represents the time that goodness and truth come together in our lives. That healing might not happen in the early days of our spiritual journey, but by the time we reach the inner peace at the end, it will happen.
Before we go on, an important note: if you have one of the diseases mentioned above or are differently abled, it does not mean you suffer from those spiritual conditions! Swedenborg is describing a principle that applies to the spiritual world and to interpreting sacred texts, not to our physical world.
All divine power comes through truth emanating from the Lord. This truth has created everything, as stated in John: Everything was made by the Word, and nothing that was made was made without him. (John 1:3) The Word is the Lord in respect to divine truth. Through this truth he brings order to everything in heaven and in hell. It is also the source of all order on earth. It accomplished all the miracles. In short, divine truth contains all power, so that in fact it is power itself. In the other life there are some who possess more truth than others. This gives them so much power that they can go anywhere in the hells without danger. At their presence the inhabitants of the hells flee in every direction. (Secrets of Heaven §8200:1-2)
The truth isn’t just a concept in our minds; it’s a force so powerful that it can cause evil to scatter just by being there. That’s the spiritual principle being represented by the miracles, and it’s not a violation of the laws of the universe, it’s an integral part of them.
Correspondence is all-powerful. In fact anything that happens on earth in keeping with correspondence prevails in heaven, because correspondence comes from the Deity. People with a goodness based on love or on faith are in correspondence [with heaven], and everything that happens with them is done by the Deity, because he is the source of all the good growing out of love and all the good growing out of faith. All the miracles recorded in the Word were accomplished through correspondence. The Word was written in such a way that everything in it, down to the smallest particular, corresponds to something in heaven. As a consequence the Word has divine force. It unites heaven with earth, because when it is read on earth, angels in heaven feel moved at the holy content of the inner meaning. The correspondence of everything in the Word is what accomplishes this. (Secrets of Heaven §8615:3)
Swedenborg wrote volumes of biblical interpretation like Secrets of Heaven because he wanted people to understand how powerful the Bible really is, and that it’s talking about more than a series of historical events. It’s describing universal spiritual principles that affect us every day, just as the things that we do can have an impact on heaven. Jesus understood that and used it when he was performing his miracles.
In a sense, because the things written in the Bible correspond with things in heaven—that is, the words reflect deeper spiritual principles—you could even say that as we read the Bible, Jesus’s miracles happen all over again, working within and through us.
And although miracles aren’t common anymore, Swedenborg says they do still happen:
The divine miracles which take place today are not manifest, but hidden. In the course of their occurrence there are many happenings which, because they do not appear as miracles, are ascribed to chance, to prudence, or to nature, except by those who acknowledge the divine providence in every single event. They are hidden, for the reason already stated, in order that those minds should not be influenced inopportunely, whose interiors the Lord is preparing for receiving good and truth; but that they should be in freedom, that is, that they should receive their faith from an interior affection. That is why the Lord said to Thomas: ‘Because thou hast seen Me, Thomas, thou hast believed; blessed are they who do not see, and yet believe.’ (John 20:29.) (Miracles and Signs §18)
Miracles might be happening right now—for example, in any medicine we don’t quite understand. All healing methods have God’s power in them, whether they’re natural, chemical, or made by people.
All healing is miraculous, but scientific explanations help to preserve our spiritual freedom by not forcing awareness of the divine. For more on spiritual medicine, check out “How Spirits Are Connected to Your Health.”
Having planted those three seeds in our minds, let’s take a moment to meditate on these ideas.
Understanding the everyday beauty of miracles can help open our eyes to the love that surrounds us. It’s not that miracles have left us, it’s that they are everywhere—as constant and reliable as anything else that we rely upon. Jesus might have been in one place and time doing his miracles, but divine truth . . . can be everywhere.
At the beginning of the episode, we asked about the miracles you’ve experienced. Here’s what viewers had to say:
- Finding this channel. -Borazjani
- My marriage -Daffodil
- My health -Tacitus
- My granddaughter -Jon Childs
- The fact that I’m alive, after contracting Cerebro-spinal meningitis as a baby in 1955. I was called The Miracle Baby by all the nurses at the hospital. -Pete Dawson
- It still amazes me as miraculous that there is “something” here instead of “nothing.” -Matt Cline
- I think dreams are miraculous. I have gotten some wonderful guidance at times from my dreams – I love their metaphorical language. -Pamela Collins
- The whole process that has lead me to this point in life. -Daffodil
- That I have a happy family life after being abducted and held captive as for 6 months as a teenager -Bonnie Gates
- I see miracles every day when I look at the sunset or smell a flower. I see God in so many different places and things. -Matthew Bush
- The functions of the human body in general, and more specifically the fact that 37 thousand billion billion chemical reactions per second take place in the human body, non-stop! -Carl Godlove
Thanks for joining us—we’ll see you next week!
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