Lately I’ve been thinking about the Hebrew notion that water represented formlessness, chaos, and by extension sin, the devil, and mortality. The notion has some currency in modern scripture.
It makes for some interesting insight into scripture. Take the story of the Gadarene swine. Christ has mercy on the devils by allowing them to flesh themselves in the body of pigs. The devils then promptly run down to the water and drown. Why? My regular interpretation is either that the devils love destroying things, or that devils are literally insane. But if the waters of the lake are hell, then what the story means is that devils’ compulsion to evil destroys any gifts that they might be given. It is a story about what it means to be damned.
Or take the stories of Christ calming the storm, or walking on water. If water represents evil or chaos, those stories show Christ’s mastery over them.
But for this Holy Week, what has most been on my mind is the sacrament. In Mormonism, blood is associated with mortality while flesh is characteristic of immortal bodies. So, from one angle, the bread of the sacrament represents the the divine half of Christ’s nature, while the water represents his mortal part.
But what if water can also represent evil and disorder? Then our sacrament feast is a remembrance that Christ took mortality, took on temptation, took on our experience of sin and evil to the ultimate, descended below all things, and emerged victor. In the sacrament, water is spoils. Water is captured battle flags. Water is our own weakness, somehow transmuted into a communion with God.