We Are All Serpent-Crushers

We Are All Serpent-Crushers December 26, 2017

This image has been making the rounds on Facebook this Christmas season. (Please click through and check it out, or nothing I say here will make sense). It is a painting by Grace Remington of Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey in Dubuque, Iowa. It is not great art. But it is profound biblical theology. Protestants who reflexively take issue with it because (as they often repeat) “Mary did not crush the head of the Serpent, Jesus did,” are not reading the Bible as it was meant to be read–typologically.

1200px-The_Grass_Snake_-_Natrix_natrixWhere is Jesus, here? In His mother’s womb. Mary consoles Eve and strikes the killing blow to the Serpent because there is a crucial typological connection between Mary and Eve. Eve was deceived by Satan, and is ultimately saved through childbearing–that is, her Offspring, the “Seed of the woman,” a nearly nonsensical term that hints at the virgin birth, is Eve’s means of exacting vengeance upon the vile Serpent who stole from her immortality. Eve’s victory, all women’s victory, and the victory of mankind over the Prince of the Power of the Air, is secured by the Last Adam, who came into the world in a chiasmus of the First Adam. In creation, woman was taken out of man alone. In Christ, the New Man is taken out of woman alone.

Eve in Mary crushes the head of the Serpent by virtue of the Divine weight she bears. Through her Son, to whom she draws sorrowful Eve’s attention, she has taken her revenge upon the Deceiver. She has fulfilled the promise of the Protoevangelium, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

This image, whatever else its Roman Catholic author may have had in mind, is a striking portrayal of a core biblical truth: In Christ, we are all Serpent-crushers. As Paul writes to the church in Romans 16, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” The phrasing here is intriguing. God does the Serpent-crushing. But He does so under out feet! We, in Christ, become little snake-stompers. Our union with Him is so close that not only did our defeat become His on the cross, but His victory becomes ours in the resurrection. Through Mary and through us, God accomplishes His victory. In Christ, it wasn’t just God who vanquished the Evil One. It was Adam and Eve’s race who vanquished him.

How great Satan’s humiliation! Not only to be defeated by God, but to be defeated by a Baby, born from the womb he sought to fill with death. God has not just won in Jesus Christ. He has made a spectacle of His Enemy. He has beaten him with a pregnant girl.

Merry Christmas(tide)!

Image: Wikimedia Commons, Darius Bauzys

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