They were carrying packs, they were in camouflage gear, some of them were even carrying large hunting knives but when someone said “Look at that snake!” they all reacted quite differently… One group of trainees stood their group about 3 metres away from the 1.7 metre Red Bellied Black Snake. Another group visibly moved towards each other in an action outworking ‘safety in numbers’ and the third group visible backed away whilst murmuring statements of extreme discomfort.
Now I am wary of snakes but I would not say that I am afraid of them. Australia has of course some of the most deadly snakes in the world but for the most part they are shy and will not attack unless provoked. Having recognised the snake as not among the 10 most deadly I took the opportunity to approach to take some photos and as I did I received various comments from the guys, including “Ohhh, I hate snakes” and “Watch out Padre…we don’t want to have to carry you home!”
As we continued our march, our discussion turned towards other insects that can happily kill you before lunch time and I noted the fact that there is a national shortage of funnel web spider antivenin and that we are being encouraged to catch any funnel webs we encounter and take them to the hospital for ‘milking’. This ‘milking’ is achieved by agitating the spider and collecting the venom in a pipette from its fangs – sounds like fun doesn’t it!
It takes up to 20 milkings to provide enough venom to produce the serum needed to treat a single bite – but since there has been an antivenin program there has not been a death from a funnel web spider bite in Australia.
So sometimes you have to be willing to approach something deadly in order to effectively deal with its power and eventually overcome it.
This is of course what Jesus did on the cross.
He who was perfect and sinless took upon Himself the venom of all of our shortcomings and failures and through His sacrifice we have available the antivenin we need.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
I am glad that there is an answer to the most dangerous bite on the planet – the bite of sin!