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Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
- Psalm 51:7 ESV
The cross’s arms are outstretched -- beautifully splintered and blood stained. It towers off in the distance, standing strong and unwavering. I stand on one side, and paradise lies on the other. But the gap between the two is astounding. It’s dark and it’s intimidating. Whispers of my greatest fears float up out of the pit and graze past my ears. It brings up my past mistakes, my past sins, and it tells me of the things I deserve -- of how I’ll never make it to the other side on my own.
That side looks nothing like the one I’m standing on. My side is dark; it’s dreary. The whispers of my greatest fears are steady and the clouds are heavy. The air is damp and it’s difficult to breathe. But just on the other side of the gap are clear skies and the brightest whites. There are hues that are truly whiter than snow. My side displays the condition of my heart -- stained and worn down. These whispers linger, and they say that in order to be on the other side my heart needs to be pure.
I frantically search for something -- anything -- to clean my heart with. I use a rag in attempts to cleanse it, but it only smears things on the surface. I try to rinse myself off with water, but it just results in a muddy heart. And just when I realize that I truly can’t do this on my own, that old rugged cross lies down across the gap between my filth and His purity. I watch in amazement as Someone so beautiful allows Himself to be covered in my sins and my dirt; all for me to be able to cross to the other side. I become cleaner and cleaner with every footstep I take across until I am truly white as snow.
What I needed was to be cleansed from the inside out. Being purged, as it says in Psalm 51, entails so much more than being washed by water. The definition of purge is to rid someone or something of an unwanted quality, condition, or feeling.
Nothing about the desires of my sinful heart is like the heart of Jesus, and being purged of my own selfish desires is something that needs to happen daily. We need to be cleansed from the inside out with something stronger than a rinse off from water -- we need the blood of Jesus to consume us from the inside out. Only then are we made white as snow.
We see this transfer of sins happen several times throughout Scripture, only instead we see the hyssop branch stand in place of the cross. Asking Jesus to purge us with hyssop seems so trivial until you see how much significance it holds in the Bible.
The hyssop branch was used to transfer blood onto the door frames during the first Passover in the book of Exodus (12:22). In Leviticus 14, it was used in the ceremonial cleansing of a leper, and in Numbers 19 it was used to assist in cleansing someone who had touched a dead body. Jumping forward to John 19:28-30 (ESV) the hyssop branch was used to give wine to Jesus during the crucifixion.
Throughout the Old Testament the hyssop branch is continuously used to transfer the blood of the sacrifice to the sinner in an attempt to make them clean once again. But purging our hearts and making them white as snow is nothing that we can do on our own, and that’s proved to us through the crucifixion. There’s no sacrifice we can make on our own, there’s no amount of cleansing we can do to make ourselves worthy of the love and mercy of Jesus. It’s only through the cross.
The hyssop points to the redeeming love of Jesus, it represents the freedom and the forgiveness of the Gospel, and it points directly to the cross that purges us from the inside out -- truly making us white as snow and dirty no more.
1. What are possible ways that you have been trying to cleanse yourself instead of giving that control over to Jesus?
2. How do we live differently when we are whiter than snow? Are you living as if your sins are gone and you're made new, or are you still attempting to cleanse your own heart?
Lord we thank You that only You can make us whiter than snow. We praise You, Father, because we know that there is no heart too unclean for You to redeem. Thank You that You selflessly sent Your Son to take on our sins so that we may be cleansed of ourselves. Thank You for using something so small and as delicate as the hyssop to remind us of Your power and Your redeeming love. We truly do not deserve a love such as this, but still You never once hesitate. Remind us daily of the power of this love, and that it is only in You that we can truly be clean.
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