water or water

6 07 2012

Sometimes there’s comedy in the gospels that we miss with our straight-laced reading and bland NIV translation. I was preparing for a full-immersion baptism, and the Bible passage was the woman at the well. It seemed appropriate as there’s lots of water. As I was reading it, the incident was suddenly laced with comedy and verbal slapstick.

Jesus meets this excluded women at the watering hole. She is collecting water. He needs water. He asks her for water. He means water. She asks him how he can ask her for water, what with her being a Samaritan. He says, if you knew who I was you would ask me for water, and I would give life-giving water.

He’s talking about something deeper than water water but she still thinks he’s talking about water water. So she says but you haven’t got a bucket for water. He looks confused because you don’t need a bucket for his water, which isn’t water water but living water. He tries again, saying that this water water might quench thirst but you will be thirsty again, but his water (not water water, other water) becomes a spring of water (other water, not water water) that gives life eternal. 

She thinks, that water’s got to be better than water water if it means I don’t have to come to the water hole with a bucket, I’ll have some please. But Jesus isn’t talking about water water. He’s talking about… water. Other water. Same word, different meaning.

Then after some personal disclosure he didn’t have a form or a risk assessment for, the disciples return and offer him food. They mean food food. He says, I have food to eat that you know nothing about. They are confused, thinking he has stashed sandwiches in his jumper so why did they bother going shopping. But he’s not talking about food food, but food. Same word, different meaning.

I couldn’t help but think of this famous Two Ronnies sketch. So we watched it in the service.

It’s all quite funny really, this comedy of errors and misunderstandings. Like when Jesus said this is my body and it’s made of bread. He didn’t mean he was a dough ball… Imagine where that thinking could lead.  

There’s food for thought.

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