This blog certainly falls under the category of “deleted scenes.” I wanted to talk about the mythological connections that are made in Revelation 12, but it just didn’t fit into the main idea of the sermon. So I’ll do that here!
First, you should read this:
The Greek Myth of Python and Apollo
The Python of Delphi was a creature with the body of a snake, which was dwelling on Mount Parnassus in central Greece. Wherever it went, it would diffuse obnoxious smell and spread mischief and death. Python was once sent out by Zeus’ wife Hera to chase Leto, Zeus lover, when she became pregnant from him, so that she couldn’t settle anywhere to give birth. By the time Apollo was only 4 days old, he decided to take revenge and went to the creature’s cave Python to seek after him. At the moment the creature faced Apollo, it started boiling with rage and lunged at Apollo to devour him. But Apollo was faster and managed to throw an arrow to Python, piercing him right on its forehead. Python cried of terror and his screaming could be heard all over the canyons of Mount Parnassus. It struggled hard to survive but in the end it surrendered to death.
This filled Apollo with joy and he happily took his lyre and started playing a song of victory, giving joy to people all around.
Doesn’t that all sound familiar? The Python pursues Leto while she is pregnant. The son Apollo ends up killing Python. We know that Jesus, the woman’s son, will defeat the Satan, the dragon. His doom has been predicted since the creation of the world. The serpent will bruise his heel, but he will crush the serpent’s head (Gen3:15). Revelation 12 then is a creative way to teach the church about the great cosmic battle that has been decisively won by our Savior Jesus!
One of the things I appreciate about this is the use of contemporary myth to illustrate a spiritual truth. Jesus also did this with parables. The story of the Good Samaritan may have been shocking in its conclusion, but the first part of that story is recycled from communal narratives that Jewish people would have recognized. So it’s really not a bad idea to use contemporary stories and illustrations to portray invisible realities and spiritual truths. Author John Eldredge notes that we love stories of good versus evil, which is a reflection of the spiritual battle that is happening today. And not surprisingly, he uses a lot of movie illustrations in his book Wild At Heart.* Perhaps this is something to try when you’re talking to an unsaved family member this holiday season!
*While I am not crazy about everything Eldredge has written, I did like Wild At Heart for its biblical take on masculinity.