When you stamp on the head of a snake you might kill it, but you probably will kill yourself in the process, as it the act of destroying a snake by crushing it with your foot, the snake will sink its teeth into you and infect you with its venom.
A friend of mine, Phil, was on a mission trip and saw some horrible and very poisonous spider -unfortunately for the story it wasn’t a snake- scuttling towards his family, knowing that these are deadly my friend stood between the spider and his family, prepared to be bitten by the spider and die in order to protect them, he killed the spider with his heavy boots. He wondered what if I didn’t have boots to handy? What if the only option to save my family was to crush it beneath my bare-feet, true he would have saved his family at the cost of his life sacrificed.
The picture is very similar to this verse, the Jesus who stamped on the snakes’ head, dying so we might live and be free. Clearly there was no other way to save us other than paying that great but dreadful cost.
On the cross Jesus is fulfilling the prophecy of Genesis when God said that Satan/the snake “would bite the heel” heel of Adam’s descendants (and we see the toxic snake bites throughout the brokenness of the world and human relations) but also that from Adam’s descendants would come one who would “crush the serpents head”.
The picture looked like a defeat for the son of Adam bitten on the heel and filled with venom as well as Satan’s head crushed, an idea so shocking -God would allow himself to die at the hands of his creation- that to many people (especially Muslims) find this hard to believe that God would (or even could) do this out of love for us.
Christ who flung stars into space, the God through whom all things were made, the one who spoke into the darkness left the glory of heaven to come and rescue his beloved creation as one of us, and yet this rescue was not that of a glorious superhero saving the world without breaking a sweat or messing up their perfectly quaffed hair, no this victory was costly -cost everything, Jesus died for us, in our place, in the most horrific manner we can comprehend.
Jesus took the part of the second Adam, one who lived his life God’s way in holy obedience to God, and both took the fall and took on the fall, living amongst us -tempted in every way- and yet without sin. When we see Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane we feel his pain as he prays “Lord if this is possible let this cup pass from me” before adding that great prayer of faith “yet not my will but yours be done!” Jesus surrenders his will to the Fathers, he takes up his cross as the whole Godhead’s heartbreaks as they reconcile and redeem their beloved creation in a costly sacrifice for the whole of this divine trinitarian community of love.
Hebrews says “it was for the joy set before him that he endured the cross” -the joy set before him was ordinary people, me and you, coming back into relationship with God through the forgiveness of sins.
Isaiah says: “He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all”.
Jesus fulfilled the Genesis prophecy of having his heel bruised by Satan.
Sin, death and the devil threw everything at Christ, they tore him down by seeing nailed to a cross.
Yet Jesus took it all for us “the punish that brought us peace was on him”, his heel was bruised, but even though he died in agony, death could not hold him back nor sin destroy him, he rose and was victorious. Jesus the bruised heeled Saviour left by his death and resurrection, sin, shame, death, Satan and hell beneath his feet. As the scriptures remind us “death where is your sting? It has been swallowed up in Victory!”
The bruised heel and the crushed head, was not both destroying each other, because God refuses to let sin, death or hell have the last word, and Jesus rose again.