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The Tree of Life:

St. John

The Word Incarnate

It is well to bear in mind the high purpose of this profound Gospel, namely, to convince the reader that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing he might have life through his name" (20:31).

Chapter 1. "In the beginning was the word." The logos is the thought in the spoken word. God spoke and all things came into being. "All the laws of order by which God preserves the universe are truths" (True Christian Religion #87). "The life of the Divine Wisdom of the Lord is light" (Apocalypse Explained #1134). His own turned from the light. The word then became flesh, "the only begotten of the Father," to reveal the lovingkindness and holiness of the Infinite to man. "All conjunction requires an object, and the conjunction effected is according to the quality of the object" (Arcana Coelestia #8705). John bears testimony to the Lord’s coming. He saw "the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him," when baptized in Jordan. The dove signified "the thoughts respecting regeneration and purification," which are the essence of the ritual (True Christian Religion #144). "I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God." "The next day." Manliness (Andrew) in anyone seeking a better life awakens an interest in the life of Christ, and a perception that faithfulness (Peter) to the Christian ideal will undoubtedly bring a new order into the world. "We have found the Messias," the Anointed One. Faith is fundamental to the project. "The day following." A new understanding of the Word (Philip, "a lover of horses") is also necessary. Then follows the "gift of God" (Nathanael), the vision to a guileless spirit of the ideal life revealed in the Word— "heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." First the ascent—a sight of what life might be, and then the descent—the attempt to make conditions as they are what they ought to be according to the vision.

2. "What they ought to be!" The marriage in Cana of Galilee on "the third day" takes up the point. The changing of the water into wine in the "six water pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews," tells us what happens within. There are three planes of life—the spiritual, the moral and the civil. "To will well is the province of the spiritual life, and to act well of the moral and civil life. Everyone, whether evil or good, lives a civil and moral life; for who does not wish to be called honest, and just? Evil men act justly and honestly solely for the sake of themselves and the world. But those who have acted honestly and justly from regard to the Divine laws, act wisely because they are conjoined to the angels of heaven, from whom wisdom is communicated to them" (Heaven and Hell #529–533). In this way the natural truth for cleansing the practical life becomes spiritual truth, alive with the Spirit of God. The water for washing the hands before eating is turned into wine, good wine. "And when men have well drunk, then that which is worse." It often happens that right thinking turns a man’s head. He take the glory to himself. The temptation to use one’s good name pridefully for personal gain is a common experience. The Lord met it when He cleansed the temple, saying, "Make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise." Asked to give proof of his authority, He said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. He spake of the temple of his body." That they destroyed; and "the third day He rose from the dead." That third day was significant of the process of perfecting his Human to the last throughout his entire lifetime. The disciples understood it after his resurrection. Experimentia docet. The Lord made no explanation; He kept his counsel to Himself, "for he knew what was in man."

3. Closely connected with the cleansing of the temple is the subject of conversion. "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." This conversion is more than a change of belief from what is false to what is true. It is rather an inversion of the order of life from learning to practicing (Arcana Coelestia #4269). Every boy or girl knows when commencement is over that the time has arrived to use his or her education to earn a living, or the right to live. Even so every boy or girl has learned that there is a heap of evil in self and the world, and that no one can enjoy lasting happiness until it is removed. We earn "our daily bread" as we judge and overcome evil, for the good of others; that is, for God’s sake (Doctrine of the Lord #24). God so loved the world that He came into it to show us the way out of hell and to heaven. Light streams from His Word, or from His Life in that Word, to distinguish good from evil in the heart of everyone. We must accept correction, or let evil flourish. There is a certain joy in fighting for the right, or in shunning evils as sins, but we cannot earn the full joy of living until our labor is ended. John the Baptist, as "the friend of the bridegroom," rejoiced in the voice of the bridegroom but admitted, "He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above is above all. God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life."

4. "Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples." The water which He gives to the open-minded is living water, and becomes in him who partakes of it "a well of water springing up into everlasting life." The Lord sitting at the well represents the Word. "The Holy Divine from the Lord through the heavens flows in with the man in the world who acknowledges the Divine of the Lord and the sanctity of the Word whilst he reads it. Such a man can be instructed and imbibe wisdom from the Word as from the Lord Himself, or from heaven itself" (Apocalypse Explained #1074). The woman had no husband, although she had had five husbands. "Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews." True worship in Jew or Gentile is the worship of God "in spirit and in truth," and leads to the acknowledgment of the Lord as "the Christ, the Savior of the World." The disciples pressed the Lord to eat. "But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and finish his work." This food is the complement of the water of life. "Eating stands for information concerning good, and drinking for information concerning truth" (Arcana Coelestia #9412), which increase with action. We learn more from teaching, or from practice, than from reading. "The sower and the reaper rejoice together," as we learn to drop all thought of reward, or wages (Arcana Coelestia #8002). The Prophet, lacking honor "in his own country" (Judea), returned to Galilee for the second miracle. He healed the nobleman’s son in response to a faith in "the spoken word" of the Lord as God Almighty, without any external proof. On this faith the Church of the Lord is built on this earth.

5. "After this," the Lord established the same faith in "his own country," Judea, as in "his own country," Galilee, despite the incredulity of the people. Many sick folk even today—sick in the spirit, or the flesh—are healed by hearing or learning a truth that grips them, and putting it to the test in practice. An angel stirs the water of the pool of Bethesda—"house of mercy." But here is the case of one who has suffered from an infirmity, and long struggled in vain to overcome it. He puts his trust in the teachings of the Word, but they do not help him. He cannot move from his bed. He sees others helped, but fails for lack of self-help. The voice of the Lord—"Rise, take up thy bed and walk"—electrifies his faith, cures him and brings peace to his soul. It was the Sabbath day. He knew not who inspired faith to action. The church gives answer; the Word gives answer. The love of God makes the Word dynamic. "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do." As the Father raiseth up the dead, so the Son quickeneth whom he will. "As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man." "The works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me." We think we have eternal life because we believe the scriptures—in theory—but not in practice. This is a deadly fallacy. "How can ye believe, which receive honor of one another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?"

6. "After these things" Jesus went to Bethsaida on the northern side of the sea of Galilee, and went up into a mountain, and fed the five thousand. Take only a few of the happy experiences in childhood, and some of the things we were taught then about right living (five loaves and two fishes), and there is no limit to the content in them, even beyond anything that we can use in a lifetime. Life is nothing but the evolvement of our early experiences and thoughts. Everything in the tree lies concealed within the seed. The contemplation of this truth looms so large, that it overshadows the responsibility attached to it. When Jesus perceived that the people intended to take Him by force and make Him a king, He went into a mountain to pray. The conflict within is mirrored in the storm on the lake. The victory won is pictured in his walking upon the tempestuous waters. And the lesson learned is set forth in the discourse upon the bread of life. "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." It is hard to believe. "The words are spirit, and they are life." Thereupon followed the confession of Peter—"Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

7. "After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him." He was not afraid of death. But He was not ready; He had work to do. The heart of the Son of man did not yet beat in consonance with the heart of the Son of God. "The feast of tabernacles was at hand" with all its rich memories of past experiences of the Father’s mercies in deliverance from evil. But He was not prepared to enter into the spirit of the festival. The Jews hated Him. "Neither did his brethren believe in him." He went to the feast "not openly, but as it were in secret," and taught in the temple. His bold denunciation of their sins widened the breach with the Pharisees. "The last day, that great day of the feast," the Lord declared Himself the giver of the living water to the thirsty soul. Each day of the feast, except the last, a pitcher of water was poured on the side of the altar of burnt offering in commemoration of the miraculous supply of water to the Israelites in the wilderness (Numbers 20:8, Isaiah 12:3). Thus fittingly on the eighth day, when no water was poured out, the Lord said, "He that believeth in me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." To the believer truths from the Scriptures flow in abundance from the belly, or bowels of compassion for suffering humanity (Apocalypse Explained #183). To the believer in the Lord as the only God in heaven and earth! This is the issue now and hereafter before the world.

8. The next morning in the temple the Lord was called upon to pronounce judgment upon a woman taken in adultery. He condemned the act—He wrote on the ground, and continued writing while each of her accusers left the building under condemnation. He did not condemn the woman, but told her to go, and sin no more. "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world." And so the Lord makes the solemn announcement here: "I am the light of the World; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." The Pharisees took exception to his claim. The Lord reasoned with them in vain. He pointed out the serious consequences of a denial. "If ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins." He saw them in the light from the inmost to the outmost. He knew that they lived in bondage to sin. "To do evil from the delight of love appears like freedom, but it is servitude because it is from hell" (Arcana Coelestia #9586). "Ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will to do." The claims of the Speaker and the condemnation in the light angered the Jews. They took up stones to cast at Him, but He mysteriously eluded them.

9. "And as he passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth." Blind to the truth about God from infancy. Blind through ignorance. Taught untruths as truths. Misled by fallacies, and self-justifications of evil. And associated with others who exist only to get the most out of life for themselves. He is blind to "the Light of the world" through no fault of his own. There is good in the man (earth). He may have heard of the Lord’s teaching, for instance, about the Good Samaritan (the Lord’s spittle). He may see an occasion to "go and do likewise" (the waters of Siloam, meaning "sent"). His eyes are opened, and he has found a mission in life. The neighbors notice the change for the better. Some of them are in doubt about it. Others question the sincerity of the convert. The issue for the church centered in the personality of the Healer. The parents through fear of the Jews declined to testify to the Lord’s work. Their son could speak for himself. And, though he knew not his benefactor, yet he felt certain that "if this man were not of God, he could do nothing." For this the convert was excommunicated. Being thus disowned by the old order in both state and church makes it possible for the convert to believe that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God," and worship Him. To sin in ignorance is guiltless, but "to see and understand that a thing is evil, and still do it, makes a man guilty" (Arcana Coelestia #9069).

10. The sheepfold is heaven, and the Lord is "the door of the sheep." "He that entereth not by the door, but climbeth up some other way, is a thief and a robber." They who lead a Christian life because it pays are thieves. They use that which does not belong to them without acknowledging any indebtedness to the Owner. The good shepherd leads, and the sheep follow him. They know his voice, they go in and out, and find pasture. They have freedom and an abundant life. The thief steals, kills and destroys. The selfish have no real consideration for the finer feelings in others, or in themselves. And like hirelings, when they see the wolf coming, they leave the sheep, and flee. The better nature in man is often ruined by hatred in time of war, or adversity. The good shepherd layeth down his life—the animal or selfish life—for the sheep. "This commandment have I received of my Father." It sounds like sheer madness to the timeserver. Yet this selfless life is the Christ-life, one with the Father in heaven. "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though you believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him." Don’t scrap the works. Be charitable at the least, to start with, and the greater works of the Christ-life will appear in proper perspective later.

11. As soon as the heart stops beating, life goes from the body, and mortification sets in. Similarly when the church dies at the center—Jerusalem—life perishes at the circumference; that is, among the Gentiles. The resuscitation of religion among the Gentiles is pictured in raising Lazarus from the dead without the walls of Jerusalem. The name Lazarus—the same as that given to the beggar, full of sores, in the parable—is significant. Either meaning may be attached to it: "without help" or "God is my help"; and it strengthens the message. The disciples tried to dissuade the Lord from returning to Judea, where the Jews sought to take his life. But He answered, "If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. I go that I may awake him out of sleep"—the sleep of death. When the Church that has the Word is on the point of extinguishing "the Light of the world," the Lord provides that anyone "who lives in any kind of truth derived from good may be in enlightenment, and not wander into falsities" (Apocalypse Explained #430). The raising of Lazarus, however, was dependent upon the belief of Martha and Mary in the Lord as the resurrection and the life. They represent the love of the letter and the spirit of God’s law. "Said I not unto thee that if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" After the raising of Lazarus, the die was cast. The high priest "prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation; and not for that nation only, but that he might also gather into one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel that they might put him to death."

12. The Lord knew that the end, with its last and hardest trials, was near. It was just "six days before the Passover." He was at supper with the family in Bethany. Mary took the opportunity to express her overflowing gratitude for the restoration of her brother by anointing the Lord’s feet with costly spikenard. It was the Lord’s supper with the Gentiles, to be followed by the decision of the chief priests to kill Lazarus. The Jewish Church ceased to function for the Gentiles from that time. The next day the people acclaimed Jesus "the King of Israel" as He rode into the city on an ass. This represents the order of subordination—"the natural man ought to serve the rational, and this the spiritual, and this the celestial, and this the Lord" (Arcana Coelestia #2781). Jesus then said to certain Greeks and others who came to Him, that the hour when the Son of man should be glorified had come; which means, that He must meet the trial of giving up his self-will to do the Divine will. He dreaded the ordeal, but prayed for strength to meet it; and "a voice came from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." The judgment was at hand, and with his ascension He would draw all men unto Him. The reaction of the listeners was varied. Some disbelieved; others believed, but were afraid to confess Him before men. We pass judgment upon ourselves as we accept or reject it. "The light of the world" is here to save the world. "Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you; for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth."

13. During suppertime the Lord took a towel and basin of water and washed the feet of his disciples. We have no part with Him, unless He wash us, and "he that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." This means the purification of the natural or external man. "In abstaining from evil and doing good we are to act as of ourselves; at the same time believing and acknowledging that the will, the understanding and the power to do so are of the Lord alone." After this pattern we owe mutual service in humility, and mutual cleansing for others. "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." "Faith is not in man whilst it is only in his knowledge and thought, but when it is also in his will and in his actions" (Apocalypse Explained #250). Then came the secret announcement to John that Judas would betray the Lord, and the open declaration that Peter would deny Him, between which He gave them a new commandment. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples: if ye have love one to another." Self-love and the love of the world are often too strong for us to resist, and we—at least temporarily—place little value on our profession of Christianity, and prove faithless to our Lord in our faithlessness to one another.

14. The Lord knows this perfectly, and yet He says, "Let not your heart be troubled. I go to prepare a place for you in my Father’s house, that where I am, there ye may be also." Thomas’s question brings out the point that the Lord is the way to that home, and Philip’s question elicits the assurance that we see the Father in the Son, for they are One. The Father doeth the works; we shall do greater works than healing, or even raising the dead. Whatever we ask in his Name, He will do. He will give us the Comforter to defend us in every trial. With every victory we shall know "that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." Love is the fulfillment of the law. "He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence."

15. "I am the true vine." The word for "true" (alethinos) is the opposite of "spurious," and not of "lying." He is the genuine, the perfect Vine, "the perfect Bread," "the perfect Light." The vine is the symbol of mutual love, perfect in the Lord, and purged and made perfect in all who abide in his love. "The branch to be engrafted can be taken from no other source than the Lord who is the tree of life" (Divine Providence #296). "They who are in the Lord and the Lord in them are in all power, so that whatever they will they can do" (Apocalypse Revealed #951). We then will nothing but what the Lord gives us to will, "and this is good, and good is from himself" (Apocalypse Explained #295). The Father is glorified in bearing much fruit, and sharing His joy to the fullest extent. The Lord’s love for us reaches its pinnacle in laying down his life for his friends. That life is the natural, sensuous, selfish life that separates us from our friends and from the Lord. That life is full of hatred, and the determination to destroy the Lord’s love in our hearts. But the Comforter is always present to testify of the Lord, and uphold our hands in doing the Lord’s will.

16. These things are said that we should have no cause for stumbling. We meet with opposition in the world. It is expedient that the Lord leaves us alone in our sorrows, but with a sense of responsibility. Then comes the Paraclete—the Advocate, who stands close by and "convicts the world of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." We are unbelievers when we fail to live up to our professions. We know that the Lord used the same power available to Him, as to us, perfected his Human, and made it Divine. We are, therefore, justly convicted if we do not get rid of the petty sins for which we are individually responsible. "The Spirit of truth shall declare unto you the things that are to come," according to our ability to bear them. Our sorrows may seem to be beyond endurance, but turn to joy when borne in the right spirit. New concepts of the truth are born of our sorrows. The Lord comes and goes, and comes again and again. His peace is our peace when we take to heart words uttered with the trial ending in the cross on Calvary right before his eyes: "In the world ye have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I (the pronoun is emphatic) have overcome the world." Thus ends this searching, but most inspiring heart to heart talk with the disciples in the upper chamber in Jerusalem.

17. The discourse closes with the Prayer of the Great High Priest for himself (verses 1–5), for the Apostles (verses 6–19), and for the church and the world (verses 20–26). Jesus has finished the work given Him to do: He has power over all flesh, to give eternal life to as many as have a living spark of God’s love in their hearts. Complete Thou the work: "glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." I pray for those whom Thou gavest me, who have kept thy word, and believed that Thou didst send me. Keep them as one. The world hates them, because they are not of the world. Keep them from the evil. I have sent them into the world, and have sanctified myself for their sakes, that they also may be sanctified through thy truth. Neither pray I for them alone, but for their converts that they may be one, even as we are one, and that for the conversion of the world. The Lord from love, which is infinite because Divine, desires to draw man even to Himself, and so to bless him with all glory and happiness (Arcana Coelestia #6645). Not uniformity in doctrine or rituals, but love alone, can effect the mystical union of the Lord in man, and man in the Lord in heaven and earth (Arcana Coelestia #1013, Apocalypse Revealed #520).

18. The group of friends and their Leader left the city and repaired to the garden of Gethsemane. At the betrayal, when the Lord said that He was the one whom they sought, "they went backward, and fell to the ground." This might have happened to prove that He laid down his life of Himself, but it certainly implies the ruination of character in anyone in Christendom who deliberately rejects the Christian life. It was necessary that the Lord should drink the cup the Father gave Him. Peter was therefore fighting on the wrong side when he cut off Malchus’s ear. The default of love on the part of Judas was succeeded by the failure of faith in Peter. He warmed himself at the fire to remove the chill of his denials. It was a cold night within, as well as without. The cock-crow marked the end of the old dispensation, and Peter’s tears the beginning of a new church. Jesus admitted to Pilate that He was a King, but asserted positively that his Kingdom was not of this world. "The Lord as a King is Divine truth, for this is the royalty of the Lord in heaven, but his Divine good is the priesthood there" (Apocalypse Explained #27; and see 31). Pilate found no fault in Him. But the people demanded that he set free Barabbas, a robber, in preference to Jesus.

19. Then Pilate tried to convince the people that the Lord was innocent, and harmless. He scourged Him and presented Him in mockery as a king with a crown of thorns on his head. Jesus said, "Behold the man," but the multitude was destitute of mercy, or pity. He claimed to be the Son of God, and ought to die, according to their law. The state had no jurisdiction in this matter; Caiaphas—the church—must take the responsibility. The state, however, must act, because Christianity is opposed to imperialism, or the love of power to exalt self. "Whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar." What irony! To get their own way the chief priests cried, "We have no king but Caesar." In spite of their protest Pilate retained his title on the cross, "Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews," in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. The church then passed into the hands of those who make the love of the Lord their first concern in life. To Mary He said, "Woman, behold thy son," and to John, "Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." And Jesus said "I thirst." "He desired a new church which should acknowledge Him. From Divine Love He willed and desired the salvation of mankind" (Apocalypse Explained #83, 386). And when He said, "It is finished," He bowed his head and expired. The soldiers broke the bones of the malefactors, but not of the Lord, because they saw that He was dead. But they pierced his side, and blood and water flowed from the wound. The letter of the Word is intact, but the church had violated its literal and spiritual meaning (Arcana Coelestia #9163, Apocalypse Revealed #26). "‘They who pierce him’ stands for those who altogether deny the Lord, for such kill and pierce Him in themselves" (Apocalypse Explained #38). We may not be guilty of such a great wrong, but we can at least see what the wickedness of the heart leads to, if we refuse to take hold of the hand of our Helper, when offered to us in time of need. The memories of all that the Word become flesh has meant to us, and the hope of some day becoming more truly Christian than we are at present, are involved in the anointing of the Lord’s body, and laying it in a new sepulcher, wherein was never man yet laid, in a garden nigh to the place where He was crucified (Arcana Coelestia #10252).

20. A new church arises in the least particular as often as the love of the Lord and faith in Him operate in anyone who is being regenerated and becoming new (Arcana Coelestia #2405). But where is the Lord? We do not seem to make any progress in the regenerate life. Both head and heart are sorely tried. It appears that the Lord is gone; the record of his life is in the Scriptures, but nothing more. Nothing but the linen clothes are in the tomb. We seem to be rather worse than better. But Mary, out of whom the Lord had cast seven devils, saw her Lord, and told the disciples that she had seen Him. The heart that has been chastened with sorrow sees evidences of the risen Lord in spite of all appearances to the contrary. And then the Lord comes to his church, and revives her spirit to resist evils as sins and enter into the good life. The gain is measured by the resistance of evil, and the loss by the neglect of evil, or the love of it. There are Thomases, however, who will not believe without physical proof. The Lord does not deny their request. It is perfectly legitimate for anyone to call for tangible proofs of the Lord’s Advent in this age. But the strongest evidence is only to be found in the new spirit of the times that is intolerant of injustices and shams of every kind, and more sympathetic to the sufferings of their fellow men. Moral and spiritual evidence is stronger than that of the senses. "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." Thomas Huxley once summed up the scientific creed in these few words: "God give me strength to face a fact though it slay me." How much more is implied in the Christian’s creed: "God give me strength to face the fact of Christ though it slay me." Belief in either case counts for nothing unless it works. And so John writes, "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."

21. This Epilogue, or Appendix, to the Gospel concerns the future development of the church. On this the third appearance of the Lord to the disciples in Galilee, He told the unsuccessful fishermen to cast the net on the right side of the ship and they would have an abundant catch, which means failure for the church that puts truth or doctrine first and love second, but success for the church whose teachers (fishers of men) use reason (the net) to convince the well-disposed "that all things are to be done from the good of love and charity" (the right side of the ship, Apocalypse Explained #513, 600). The Lord foresaw the decline and fall of the Christian Church because it made faith more important than love. He asked Peter if he loved Him, and Peter assured Him thrice that he did. But the love Peter said he had for the Lord differed greatly from the love the Lord asked for. The Lord’s love (agape) is boundless and timeless. Peter’s love (phileo) is limited to those who think alike, and becomes more and more sectarian until it reaches the point of establishing an infallibility for one’s own belief, and excommunication in the heart, if not on the lips, for everyone who calls it in question. The Christian Church failed to feed the lambs and the sheep, for lack of God’s love (agape), and came to an end. "When thou wast young," said the Lord to Peter, "thou girdedst thyself and walkedst whither thou wouldest; but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." The Lord said, "Follow me." But Peter turned his back upon the Lord. And, seeing John following, he said contemptuously, "Lord, and what shall this man do?" The Lord, however, rebuked Peter, and said to John, "Follow me." And in course of time, "the disciple whom Jesus loved (agapao), which also leaned on Jesus’ breast at supper," was taken to the isle of Patmos, to see the visions which, rightly interpreted, enable us to understand the inner causes of the failure of Christianity in the past, and the truths by which the New Church, the crown of all the churches, will be established in the world.


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