Forty-year-old Jeremy Sutcliffe of Corpus Christi, Texas, made national news a couple of years ago when he almost died from a rattlesnake bite. Even more than being featured on the news, the story also received mention on the channels Animal Planet and Discovery. What was so newsworthy about Sutcliffe’s story? It was the fact that the bite that almost took his life came from a snake whose head Sutcliffe had severed ten minutes earlier!
Jeremy’s wife, Jennifer, was pulling some weeds from her flower garden when she came across a four-foot long Western Diamondback rattler. She screamed for Jeremy’s help, and he raced over and killed the snake by using a shovel to decapitate it. Ten minutes later, when he bent down to pick up the snake’s body to dispose of it, the severed head suddenly sunk its fangs into two of the fingers on his right hand.
Jennifer, who works as a nurse, called 911 and loaded Jeremy into the car to find a hospital that had rattlesnake antivenom on hand. But she only made it about two miles down the road before he started losing consciousness and having mini-seizures. At that point she decided to pull the car to the side of the road and wait for help to arrive. Fortunately, the ambulance arrived quickly and rushed Jeremy to a helicopter. He was then flown to Christus Spohn Shoreline hospital where he went into septic shock and was placed into a medically induced coma.
The next several hours were touch and go as Jeremy was given multiple doses of antivenom, pumped full of fluids, and placed on a ventilator. His blood pressure bottomed out repeatedly and at one point his organs began to fail. Three separate times the doctors told Jennifer that they didn’t think they could save him. The next day, however, his condition finally stabilized. All told, Jeremy received 26 doses of antivenom, which was a staggering amount considering that most snake bites require no more than four. Again, all this happened because of the severed head from a snake!
Experts say that the decapitated head from a snake retains the ability to reflexively strike and inject venom for at least a full hour. Jeremy Sutcliffe found that out the hard way, and unfortunately for him his story doesn’t have a completely fairy-tale ending. While his doctors were able to use dialysis to restore his kidneys to full function, all efforts to save the poisoned fingers on his right hand proved futile and he lost both of them. Additionally, he stills suffers from extensive nerve damage as a result of the antivenom and has a megacolon in his stomach.
As for the spiritual application to Jeremy Sutcliffe’s story, it isn’t hard to identify. Despite the fact that Jesus has rendered a lethal blow to Satan, whom Revelation 12:9 calls “the serpent of old,” Satan still retains the ability to strike us and harm us with his poison. Did Christ’s life, death, and resurrection bruise Satan’s head in fulfillment of the Genesis 3:15 prophecy? Absolutely. But numerous post-resurrection passages from the New Testament plainly teach that Satan and his army of fellow fallen angels are still dangerous foes of whom we should be wise, be warned, and beware. One day, thankfully, Jesus will dispose of Satan and all his demons permanently by imprisoning them in that eternal lake of fire called “Gehenna” in the Greek language (Matthew 25:41). Until then, though, we must remain vigilantly careful to keep ourselves a safe distance from Satan’s venom. Remember, even though he is a defeated foe, he can still bite you!