April 1—Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me

Nothing in my hand I bring,

Simply to the cross I cling;

Naked, come to thee for dress;

Helpless, look to thee for grace;

Foul, I to the fountain fly;

Wash me, Savior, or I die. (“Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me” by Augustus Toplady)

So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified. The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard of the governor’s headquarters (called the Praetorium) and called out the entire regiment. They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head. Then they saluted him and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship. When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified. (Mark 15:15–20 NLT)

This scene that takes place in the Praetorium – of Jesus being flogged, beaten, and mocked – was written about more than 700 years earlier by the prophet Isaiah: “He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Both the prophecy and the Gospel accounts of this torture and murder are descriptions of Jesus, God made flesh, allowing that flesh to be torn asunder so that through His wounds we, and all of creation, might be healed of a far more substantial wound.

When the first stanza of “Rock of Ages” was first published in a 1775 article by the hymn’s author, Augustus Toplady, it was preceded by the following text: “If you fall, be humbled, but do not despair. Pray afresh to God, who is able to raise you up, and set you on your feet again. Look to the blood of the covenant; and say to the Lord from the depths of your heart Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.”

It is in clinging to the One who was wounded for our sake that our own wounds – which run deeper than the marrow of our bones and mar every aspect of our lives – are able to be washed, bound, and made new. What wounds do you continue to carry that require the attention of the Great Physician? What burdens do you bear that are best left at the foot of His cross?