The Death of an Innocent One

For Christ died for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.—1 Peter 3:18

Over the 16 years we have lived in our house, some of the wildlife on our property has come to view us as part of the landscape. Gary Cooper, the patriarch of the Cooper’s hawk clan that nests around our property, nods in our direction as we walk by. The owls observe us from nearby as if they’re the ones studying wildlife. 

But the birds are able to escape my two large dogs. The Florida marsh rabbits, so tame that they’re practically domesticated, are sometimes less fortunate.

Usually I’m able to see the bunnies ahead of my dogs so I can gently shoo them to safety. But one recent morning my dog Pepper had first sight as a large pine obscured my view. Before I knew it, the rabbit was dead, and Pepper had blood—the blood of an innocent, helpless creature—all over her fur.

I had to wash the blood off her before I could let her back into the house. Adding to my sadness, I realized it’s nesting season, and the bunny might have been a mother replenishing her stores so she could nurse her litter. I felt sick all morning.

Many of us would react in the same way. We have a visceral reaction to the suffering of innocent animals or children. But as I continued to replay the horrible scene in my mind, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus, the Lamb of God who took on the sins of the world. 

For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.—2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus knew no sin, yet He took on the full weight of my sin and your sin and the sins of all the world. As the bunny died, I could not bear to watch. I had to look away. How would I have responded there, at the foot of the cross, as God in flesh died a death far more brutal than anyone can imagine? Would I have felt the weight of it? Would I have mourned? 

Do I mourn now? Do I recognize my sin for what it is: an affront to God for which He Himself had to make propitiation? Or have I come to take His sacrifice for granted?

But I have this against you: You have abandoned your first love. – Revelation 2:4

Lord, unite my heart to Your heart. Let my spirit be in concert with Yours. Let me see as You see, do as You do, and say what You say. Renew my awe of You and my love for You. Help me set no idols before You. And help me never forget Your sacrifice on Calvary, for Your blood is the only truly innocent blood spilled.