April 27, 2015

Sell Whatsoever You Have and Give to the Poor

From Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
...There are spiritual temptations which those undergo who receive genuine charity from the Lord; for such must fight against the evils that are in every man from birth, and some must fight against the falsities that they have imbibed from childhood from masters and preachers respecting faith alone. These falsities and evils are removed by the combats of temptations. This is what is meant by the "cross" in the following passages:
Jesus said, He that doth not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me (Matt. 10:38; Luke 14:27). 
Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone will come after Me let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23).
In these passages the "cross" means temptations, and "to follow the Lord" means to acknowledge His Divine and to do His commandments. ... The "cross" means temptations because the evils and the falsities therefrom that cling to man from his birth infest and thus torment those who are natural when they are becoming spiritual. And as those evils and their falsities that infest and torment can be dispersed only by temptations, temptations are signified by the "cross." Therefore the Lord says, that "they must deny themselves and take up their cross," that is, that they must reject what is their own, "their cross" meaning what is man's own [proprium], against which he must fight.

Jesus spake to the rich man who asked Him what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus said to him, Thou knowest the commandments: Thou shalt not commit adultery; Thou shalt not kill; Thou shalt not steal; Thou shalt not bear false witness; Thou shalt not defraud; Honor thy father and mother. He answered and said unto Him, All these things have I observed from my youth. Jesus looked upon him and loved him; yet He said unto him, One thing thou lackest; go, sell whatsoever thou hast and give to the poor; so shalt thou have treasure in the heavens; and come, follow Me, taking up the cross (Mark 10:17-21).

Here "to follow the Lord and to take up the cross" - to acknowledge the Lord's Divine, and the Lord as the God of heaven and earth; for without that acknowledgment no one can abstain from evils and do good except from self and as meritorious good, for the good that is good in itself and that is not meritorious good is solely from the Lord; consequently he cannot be saved unless the Lord is acknowledged, and it is acknowledged that all good is from Him. And yet before anyone can act from the Lord he must undergo temptations, for the reason that the internal of man, by which he is conjoined with heaven, is opened by means of temptations. And because no one can do the commandments apart from the Lord, therefore the Lord said, "Yet one thing thou lackest; sell all that thou hast and follow Me, taking up the cross;" that is, the Lord must be acknowledged and temptations must be endured. That "he should sell all that he had and give to the poor" signifies in the spiritual sense that he should alienate and cast away from himself what is his own [proprium], thus it has the same signification as "denying oneself" in the passages quoted above; and "to give to the poor" signifies in the spiritual sense to do the works of charity. The Lord said this to him because he was rich; and "riches" signify in the spiritual sense the knowledges of good and truth, and with this man, who was a Jew, the knowledges of evil and falsity, since they were traditions. From this it can be seen that the Lord, here as elsewhere, spake by correspondences.

Again, temptations are signified by the "cup" of which they were to drink:
Jesus said unto James and John, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink the cup that I drink, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They said unto Him, We are able. And Jesus said to them, The cup that I drink ye shall indeed drink, and with the baptism that I am baptized with shall ye be baptized; but to sit on My right hand or on My left is not Mine to give, but for whom it hath been prepared (Mark 10:38-40).
"To drink the cup that the Lord drank" has the same signification that the "cross" has above, namely, to undergo temptations; and "the baptism with which the Lord was baptized" signifies to be regenerated by temptations. But between the cup which the Lord drank and the cup which they are to drink there is the same difference as between the temptations of the Lord and the temptations of men. The temptations of the Lord were most grievous, and against all the hells; for the Lord subjugated all the hells by means of the temptations admitted into Himself; but the temptations of men are against evils and falsities that are from the hells with them, and in these the Lord and not man himself fights, except against certain painful feelings. There is a like difference between the baptism with which the Lord was baptized and the baptism with which men are baptized as there is between glorification and regeneration. By means of temptations the Lord glorified His Human by His own power, but men are regenerated, not by their own power but by the Lord; for "baptism" signifies to be regenerated by temptations, but the Lord's baptism signifies the glorification of His Human by temptations.

(Apocalypse Explained 893:3-5)