One of the things we witnessed on our recent trip to Yellowstone was both tragic and inspiring. We enjoyed seeing all the animals – bears, moose, deer, elk, buffalo, etc., but we didn’t expect to see an encounter between a rattlesnake and a rabbit. (The photo above is a bit dark, but the snake is on the left and the rabbit is on the right.) Here is how it happened: We were looking at a large area of thermal hot spring geysers and just walking on the elevated boardwalk (they don’t want you to get off and possibly fall into a geyser). As were walking along an area of sparse trees and some undergrowth shrubs, we saw a rattlesnake. Then we saw a rabbit, and it was running back and forth in front of the snake. The snake would strike and the rabbit would jump just out of the way. Soon, a crowd gathered and someone wondered aloud, “Why doesn’t the rabbit just run away?” Well, the reason, soon became evident as we started hearing baby rabbit noises in the underbrush. Obviously, the snake was after the baby rabbits and the momma rabbit was risking her life trying to lure the snake away. The snake just would not leave, and finally, the rabbit got too close and was struck by the snake. Someone else talked about it being the “cycle of life” which, in one sense, it was.
However, it was more than that. We got to witness a mother’s love for her babies. We got to witness an example of utter sacrifice. Rather than run to safety, this rabbit gave her life to try to save them. So even in the animal world, mommas instinctively want to protect their young. Unfortunately, in this case, the snake won. In a spiritual sense, Jesus sacrificed his life for us baby rabbits. Someone accurately said that nails didn’t keep him on the cross; love did. Like the rabbit, he could have scampered to safety. But we were too valuable. He loved us. And by his sacrifice, the ultimate snake, Satan, lost.