Quick – think of a symbolic plant mentioned in the Bible… Old or New Testament… (theme music playing to give you time to think)… got one?
What came to mind? Most people will think of the fig tree, the cedar or the grapevine. In fact, just mentioning these plants can bring a story or passage to mind. I doubt too many people would have said “hyssop.” Why would we? Hyssop s a common weed that grows out of walls (1 Kings 4:33). Still, this amazing plant was a part of the first Passover, the cleansing of the temple, the burnt offerings, David’s psalm of repentance, and the crucifixion!
Few plants can compare to the spiritual significance of the hyssop plan. It was used to sprinkle blood on the doorposts in Egypt and the articles of the temple (Hebrews 9:19). It was used in purification after human burials (Numbers 19:18). David asks God to use hyssop in his spiritual renewal:
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow…
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:7, 9-10)
In contrast to the mighty cedar that declares God’s greatness (Psalm 104:16), the humble hyssop declares God’s desire for pure hearts. Growing by the roadside, or in the cracks between bricks, the hyssop serves as a reminder that God will wash the repentant heart clean. Soldiers grabbed a branch of hyssop and raised a sponge soaked in wine to the lips of Jesus as he hung on he cross (John 19:29). The greatest moment of humility and purification – of course the hyssop plant would be there to play its part! May my life and yours bear witness to God’s love half as well as the humble hyssop.