“Behold I cast out demons, and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I am perfected” (Luke 13:32).
Let us explore the three days between the time of Jesus death and the time of His resurrection. ‘Three days’ corresponds to completion or ‘the endeavor to wholeness’, or to bring to perfection. We cannot know the unfathomable depth of it but we can point to principles that I think put us on solid ground in discerning the meaning. I believe there are two main themes to consider. One is that he was completing the work of making His human divine. And, the other is he was completing the work of redemption.
When Jesus said it is finished and the earth quaked and the curtain at the Holy of Holies was rent it was an indication He had initiated a profound and fundamental change in the structure of the universe. He became the innermost of all things, His love was so great it overcame the laws of physics and the inertia of the physical world. His new Human, Jesus the Christ, became divine. This is extraordinary, because becoming divine means His new human became, fulfilled, and renewed the whole of the Grand Man. The Grand Man is the whole of the natural and spiritual universe which means the entire universe is in the form of Jesus, and all of its parts in a relational structure with each as are the parts of His body in every particular detail! He is the innermost, and He is the whole, the micro and the macro. The whole of the entire natural and spiritual universe always has been in the form of the divine human (in God’s image), known as Jehovah from creation. This also was in the human form in every finest detail but inn achieving the glorification Jesus became One with God, the renewed Grand Man.
His soul from the beginning is the same but He changed His human by being Born on earth and grew into it, and in the long process of creating His new Human in the glorification process He renewed Everything between earth and heaven; as he says, He ‘drew all things unto himself’. In conceiving of this it is essential to remember that Man had separated himself from God; this separation took place as the Jewish church gradually became completely external and legalistic and thus lost its modes of connection to heaven. This includes all the spiritual and natural connections and pathways in the mind, psyche, and soul of man. Man’s connection to heaven and the angels is by correspondences, and when these correspondences are healthy, they are a vibrant, life giving bond particularly between heaven and earth, thus it is nourishment for the soul of man (the ‘treasure’ spoken of in the Word). But before Jesus came this bond had atrophied by Man rejecting God and, like any bond that is lost, it is an intense process of transformation to renew the Bond. The bond is not a single bond; they are of the truths of life, as intricate and innumerable in their facets of growth as are the pathways in the brain. Jesus achieved all of this growth in himself, by overcoming all temptation, and by fulfilling all prophecy of the divine Word; But because His soul is infinite and His body was becoming the Grand man – He was doing it for all mankind and the universe! He made it possible for all to be re-connected to their own body mind and soul, and to heaven and Himself.
It is important to see how significant it is that Jesus raised His material human body into the spiritual realm by making it divine. This is unimaginable impossible. It never happens that material bodies enter the spiritual world, in fact the only time it did (and ever will for all eternity) is the resurrection of Jesus. In the ‘Remnant Report’ about the shroud of Turin’ the scientist found that the image is a photo-negative, has 3-D qualities, and that it is an X-ray photo. The report writes: “The consensus of the science team is that most likely radiation coming from within the crucified body caused this 3D effect to occur on the shroud itself! Thus, perhaps it may come as no surprise to many that the resurrection was most likely a nuclear event! Giulio Fanti, an Italian chemist from Padua University, proposes that a burst of radiant energy caused the image on the cloth. It might have come from bright light, ultraviolet light, X-rays or fundamental particles emanating from within the body itself. One need only to re- read the account of Christ’s Transfiguration from Luke 9:29 in order to surmise that such an event took place (BBC News)”. (http://remnantreport.com/cgi-bin/imcart/read.cgi?article_id=693&sub=19)
This is a material glimpse of the power and uniqueness of this event; to understand it spiritually is immensely more extraordinary. In the resurrection He broke all the laws of physics and all the laws of the spirit. This can only be done by becoming the new law itself of the universe and the heavens; and once it happens it can never happen again. This is part of what is meant by His saying, ‘I draw all things unto Him’. Because He became the highest love and highest truth to ever exist He supplanted all love and truth; and inherent in the highest love and truth is the whole hierarchy of divine order from beginning to end. He is the Alpha and the Omega; He renewed everything in becoming the the true law of heaven, the Law of all doctrine and truth, and all the laws of science in the natural world.
We have a magnificent clue in the Gospels that shows Jesus was in process of completing the work of coming into perfect union. I am referring to when Mary is returning to the empty tomb and at first mistakes Jesus for the Gardner, but then, when He says her name she realizes who He is. She moves to embrace Him and He says, ‘Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father’. Precisely what this means, I don’t know, but I believe it shows Jesus was in the process of completing becoming the divine human as shown above.
One can see that becoming the Grand Man is an unfathomable process, and it must be that during the three days (and for some time after) He was fulfilling the infinitely complex endeavor of becoming the Grand Man. It is important to note that the Grand Man is the entirety of heaven and the natural universe; hell is not part of the Grand man but its opposite and separate from heaven and the Grand Man; the demonic form of hell is a monstrous human which is below, facing away, and opposite in every detail to the Grand Man. During the three days Jesus was putting the remaining forces of evil back to the place they belong. Like heaven hell has innumerable societies formed into descending grades of severity. All of these are governed by the wisdom of the Lord with angels serving in the work. The deceptive arts and capabilities of the evil in the spiritual world are a thousand times greater than the evil on earth. Evil is able to work deception by using the principles of truth, and by using the structure framework of correspondences that is inherent in the spiritual and natural world. This is a powerful means of gaining some control and deceiving the good. Evil uses the truths of good as a way to hide, persuade and seduce.
Understanding this picture gives us a sense of why it takes time to undue the machinations of evil. God does not undue the structures of correspondences because they are inherent to all truth and reality, and especially because they also serve the good; thus evil can remain a long time hidden and protected by the truths of correspondences. This is the basis of all of their ‘magic’ and deception. Of course the Lord and His angels have the power to expose and defeat the evil, but it is a process. To explain the details of this would take reams of pages and days of study, but I hope one can get a glimpse of it works by what I have explained. All of these truths are contained in the parable of the wheat and chaff. The wheat are the good and heavenly people, and chaff are the evil and hellish people, and He allows them to exist together for a long time. The reason Jesus waited for the ‘time of the harvest’ is that the evil leaders were using religion for power over the people, and the good people still needed religion to be connected to heaven – even though the leaders were corrupt and used religion for power of everyone. Thus, Jesus could not separate them until ‘the time of the harvest’. There is much more to this (see the post in this blog on the captives), but perhaps this gives the reader a glimpse of why it takes time. Now, it is important to remember and understand, the ruling principle with enlightens all of these truths, which is, that God (Jesus) follows his own laws of divine order; He doesn’t wave His hand to change things; the good of life has to be won in battle, in the transformation of each person’s soul. Even with the evil He works in such a way as to not destroy the essence of their life, but to restrict them so they cannot harm the good.
Now, it is essential to know that the three days were the heart of the ‘harvest’. The harvest is when Jesus releases all the captives that deceptive evil leaders had collected into their false heaven in the name of religion. These false heavens were not in heaven but in the world of spirits and the agents of their leaders deceived those entering the spiritual world and brought them into their cities, a miserable place of abuse, lies and control. The release of these captives is the focus of the descent into the hells; and in general in general this is an essential part of Jesus of subjugating the hells (on earth and the spiritual world), and at the same time restoring heaven to integrity. This work I believe, was started when His ministry began; we see this in the gospels, the way He commands evil spirits and puts them in their place. This is a glimpse of the immense work he was doing to defeat all the forces of hell that had began to overrun earth, the world of spirits and the lower parts of heaven. In the gospel we also see how He thrashed the merchants in the temple out, similarly, only on a massive scale he defeated the myriads of evil spirits and demons in all the quarters of the spiritual world. Jesus’ descent to hell (told of in the gospels to take place during the tree days) is the essential of the harvest. This is also described in revelation. The way ‘the harvest’ takes is that first there is a ‘visitation’. This means that the Lord, first, sends angels to the false heavens where the captives are controlled in the cities of the evil leaders, and they are safely brought to the society of heaven where they belong and there is great rejoicing. Then the false cities are turned over and swallowed down into the hells; floods come and destroy whole cities, earthquakes open the earth and great numbers of the evil are taken down. This is described in revelation. Completing the work of putting the hells into order took time.
I believe all of this work was going on for a good deal of time before His death, and continued after the resurrection, but the work was centered in the three days we are addressing. (Swedenborg writes the the work of the second coming took about 1 year, which shows it is a process that takes time). The way we can understand the time line of this is by the way miracles and possessions took place before and after his brith. Overt possessions and miracles are an extraordinary tell because the sensational kind that were taking place during this period only occur during a time of dis-equilibrium. (See the posts in this blog explaining in depth the loss of equilibrium and the cause of overt possessions and miracles). Possession were taking place because evil was overcoming the good, religion and the world had become external, and without reception of God evil gains undue power, and separation from God increases. Evil spirits (former humans) were intercepting the good in the spiritual world and controlling them in their society.
We see in the Bible over and over people being possessed by evil that controls their body and causes convulsions, foaming, thrashing and insanity. We can also see in the scriptures the power Jesus had over evil spirits that possessed people. Unlike the people on earth demons knew who He was and what he could do on site. They were deathly afraid of him and begged for mercy. Jesus could command them by His divine power. This power takes place as a face to face battle, sword to sword, power against power. It is a face to face because Jesus is in a body, a man, a divine man. He had to do this for two reasons. The purity of God’s presence would destroy every man, good and evil alike, just as any man who approached the sun would be utterly destroyed long before they even got close. By being in a body God had access to evil, and evil had access to him, without destroying them by His presence. In addition, the main reason is, that man, both good and evil, have to be transformed by the processes that take place in freedom. Evil was so keenly aware of who Jesus was because the forces of hell always seek-out, attack and destroy the greatest and highest love in man that they can. Evil felt is was their chance to completely and utterly destroy God and everything, and so they relentlessly attacked and tempted Jesus His whole life. But Jesus met and overcame their assaults; He was victorious over every temptation, and this is the very means by which He made His body divine.
This kind of overt possessions and miracles that were taking place then are not allowed now (or any time there is an equilibrium). At the time we see Jesus (and His disciples under His authority) performing sensational miracles that also do not occur in times of equilibrium. These miracles were a sensational measure to compensate for the overabundance of evil. These kind of miracles persuade people but do not save for they an external measure, not internal. They are transformative only for those who believe in His divine. Nevertheless they were essential to counter the terrible persuasions of evil that had overcome so many. (See the article in this blog that explains this subject in depth).
Now, we can see in the Bible and in history before Jesus was born there was a great abundance of darkness that had accumulated that would cause mankind to enter an abysmal end. There were exorcists on every corner, the main cause of all illness was considered possessions, and religion had become legalistic, bereft of all charity. We can also see that the fantastic possessions began at some point before Jesus and then possessions and miracles gradually slowed down and stopped in the times of the very early church as equilibrium was restored. Thus, possession and miracles work as a marker for the timeline of Jesus’ work of restoration. as said above, they only occur during the dis-equilibrium (also known as the time of apocalypse).
By correspondences the story of Jonah gives us a picture of the three days and of Christ’ descent into the hells. “As Jonah was in the whale’s belly three days and three nights, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:40).
“..for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the belly of the earth (Matt. 12:38-40; Luke 11:16, 29, 30). A “sign” plainly means attestation that they may be persuaded and believe that the Lord was the Messiah and the Son of God who was to come, for the miracles that the Lord wrought in abundance, and that they saw, were no signs to them, because miracles are signs only with the good. “Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale,” and this was taken for a “sign,” because it signified the burial and resurrection of the Lord, thus the complete glorification of His Human, “three days and three nights” also signify completeness. So during the three days Jesus was bringing to perfection the purification of His human so that it merge in perfect union with His divine soul.
Now, it is enlightening to see how the story of Jonah, by correspondences, gives us a picture of the three days. As told in Matthew, Jonahs three days in the belly of the whale correspond to the three days between the Lord’s death and resurrection. In Jonah the scripture reads: “Out of the belly of hell have I cried; Thou hast heard my voice. Thou hadst cast me into the depth, even into the heart of the seas; and the river was round about me; all Thy billows and Thy waves passed over me. The waters enclosed me about even to the soul; the abyss encompassed me round about, the sedge was wrapped about my head. I went down to the cuttings off of the mountains; the bars of the earth are upon me forever; yet Thou hast made my life to come up out of the pit” (2:2, 3, 5, 6).
About this Swedenborg writes:
“The Lord teaches in Matthew (12:39, 40; 16:4; Luke 11:29, 30), that Jonah’s being in the whale three days and three nights represented that the Lord would thus be in the heart of the earth; and these words of Jonah describe the Lord’s direful temptations. And because it is by the overflow of evils and falsities that come up out of hell, and as it were overwhelm, that temptations exist, it is said that “out of the belly of hell he cried,” and that “he was cast into the depth, even into the heart of the seas,” which signifies hell; “the river and the waters that enclosed him,” and “the billows and waves that passed over,” signify the evils and falsities from hell; “the abyss that encompassed round about,” signifies where and from in the hells the dire falsities come from; “the cuttings off of the mountains to which he went down,” signify the hells where and from which are evils; that the Lord was as it were bound by these is signified by “the sedge wrapped about the head,” and “the bars of the earth that were upon him,” “wrapped by sedge” signifying to be bound as it were by falsities, and “the bars of the earth” signifying to be bound as it were by evils; victory over these from His own power is signified by “yet hast Thou made my life to come up out of the pit.” It is said, “Thou hast made to come up,” but in reference to the Lord this means that He made Himself to come up by His Divine, that is, by His own power”.
This gives us an amazing picture of how intense and overwhelming were His battles with the evil forces. (See the post in this blog about the immensity of Jesus’ battles with the hells). These battles were, as must be, face to face, sword to sword, power against power. For as shown above Jesus does not destroy the essence of a demons life, as would God in his purity, but Jesus defeats them in battle, and in the end brings about perfect justice for the good and evil, by putting them in the society that they belong (for the evil this is hell), for they are in the love of evil and doing evil to others, and cannot be with the good. Scripture describes this in the parable to the tides where it is told, ‘between you and I (the rich man in hell and Abraham in heaven) I have built a great chasm’. In the three days, and in the timeline of restoration, Jesus was building this ‘chasm’. Also during this time, correspondences in the story of Jonah show that He was still doing the final work of purifying his human of all evil by the battles and ‘direful temptations’ described there.
Jesus entering the innermost is the result of all this mighty work of love, wisdom and power. He entered the natural material world and overcame all of its inertia, all of its evil, and thus became the innermost of everything to the last Atom. He is the cause of all renewal and is in the spiritual sun by which eternally sustains all creation with the same power it took to create it and redeem it.