Do you see?
According to the Collins English dictionary, a pun is a clever and amusing use of a word or phrase with two meanings, or of words with the same sound but different meanings. For example, if someone says ‘The peasants are revolting’, this is a pun because it can be interpreted as meaning either that the peasants are fighting against authority, or that they are disgusting.
A few weeks ago, in a sermon, I commented on a pun you may have seen on church posters, which reads ‘Carpenter from Nazareth seeks joiners’, although if English is not your first language, and you do not know the connection between a carpenter and a joiner, the double meaning may not be apparent.
When we read the Bible, there are many double meanings, which may not be obvious at first (or very amusing). When we explain something to someone, it is usual to ask ‘Do you see (what I mean)?’ and to reply ‘yes, I see (I understand)’. John, 1:18, says ‘No one has ever seen God’ and in Exodus 33:20, God tells Moses, ‘man may not see me and live’. Yet elsewhere we find on numerous occasions, eg Exodus 33:11, that ‘The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend’. This challenges us to consider the meaning of what we are reading. During this time of Lent we are urged to seek a clearer vision of God, to ‘seek the face of God through His Word and the power of His Spirit’ (Note 1).
The New Testament is doubly difficult to interpret, as the Aramaic spoken language was written down in Greek and eventually translated into English. Some Greek words have a double meaning that can only be interpreted by two different words in English. For example:
Anothen, in connection with being born, can either mean to be born again or to be born from above. Open your own Bible and read, John 3:3 & 7. Which meaning does it give? How do you see/understand the translation?
Entos can either mean ‘within’ or ‘among’. There are three popular interpretations of Jesus’ words in Luke 17:21, that the kingdom of God is within you (or among you). 1) the kingdom of God is essentially inward, within man’s heart; 2) the kingdom is within your reach, if you make the right choices; and 3) the kingdom of God is in your midst, in the person and presence of Jesus. According to my source, the best of these interpretations, it seems, is the third: Jesus was inaugurating the kingdom as He changed the hearts of men, one at a time.
In a few weeks’ time, it will be Easter, where life in all its fullness is truly celebrated. It is a time of waking up and seeing life from a new perspective. May we all know the energy and joy of that!
Note 1, Lent study book, Who is the Christ? By Anne Calver
With every blessing,