In Revelation 12 the Apostle John describes a very different scene of the birth of Jesus. John uses bold, vivid, striking, and startling images. His is a story powerfully and imaginatively revealing the spiritual reality of God’s invasion into his creation through Jesus Christ. The physical images are larger than life. A pregnant woman about to give birth is clothed with the sun. The moon is the rest for her feet. A rather immense image. There appears an enormous seven headed red dragon whose tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky. The dragon stood in front of the woman waiting to devour the baby when he was born. When the woman gave birth to her son he was snatched up to God and to his throne, where he will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. The images are not the reality but powerfully represent the reality of Satan’s failure to defeat God’s purposes in Jesus. Jesus came to save, to redeem, and to free all who will put faith in God through Him. John’s message to a persecuted church—it may appear that Satan, that evil, is dominating and victorious. The reality—Christ is on the throne. He has been victorious over Satan. The dragon still rages, like a wild animal unleashing his fury as he is dying of his mortal wounds. Even the martyrs who have died because of their faith in Christ, they have not been defeated. Rather they overcame [the dragon] by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11a). John is encouraging the Christians of his day to hold to their faith in hope.
Our infant grandson, Sully, was diagnosed with leukemia at age two months. He died at age fifteen months. Remembering Sully, I consider this text a good metaphor of pediatric cancers. This great and horrible dragon seeks to devour the children he attacks. With every effort to oppose him he is enraged. At times he appears to be accomplishing his hideous and horrific purpose. He is thwarted at every turn by courageous children who, encouraged, supported, and loved by their parents, fight with strength beyond their years. Medical staffs and researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and other hospitals fight valiantly to drive back the dragon. At times he is defeated. Children recover. The dragon loses all power over them. At other times, all too many, the dragon appears to win, to devour his victims. Death, the dragon beats his breast and his seven heads mock with a hideous shout of victory. Contrary to appearances, however, Sully and the other children, even in death, have overcome the great and hideous dragon. They have been snatched up to God, to his Son, and to life.
O how I want Sully to still be with us, to see him with his sister and brother and cousins open the gifts under the tree. I still at times see his picture, think about him, or speak his name, and my heart breaks. So it will be until I die because I love and will always love Sully. Yet my faith in the message of the apostle’s powerful picture gives comfort in the midst of tears. Comfort found in the hope of Jesus Christ. Sully is with Him. One day I will be with Him and so with Sully.