That Rock Was Christ! 

Sacramental Meditation VI 

By John Willison, Practical Works (London: Blackie & Son, 1844), 250-1; minimally edited. 

“And that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4) 
How useful was that rock in the wilderness to the Israelites sojourning there, after it was smitten by Moses’ rod: When they were ready to perish in that dry desert, the rock sent forth streams of water to them in great abundance; streams that followed them up hill and down hill, in all their turnings and windings, marches and counter marches through that weary land. That rock was to them a lively type of Christ, who being smitten by the rod of the law’s curses, whose minister Moses was, sends forth plentiful supplies to his people, while travelling in the wilderness of this world. There are two principal streams of blessings which he sends forth, most useful to us, to wit, a stream of blood for our justification, and a stream of the Spirit for our sanctification. The channel, or conduit-pipes, for conveying these streams to us, are the ordinances and promises of the gospel; and through these pipes, these blessed streams run freely to all true believers, from the rock Christ, which was broached for them. 

Oh, how costly was our redemption to our dear kinsman Jesus Christ! Dear did our souls cost him! The rock of our salvation was cleaved asunder, rent and pierced to the very heart, to let out the waters of life to us, by which only we can be preserved from eternal death, and obtain eternal life. How costly and precious of Christ’s blood and spirit, his mercy and grace, which flow from the smitten rock, and follow us through the wilderness in the free offers of the gospel! They are life-giving streams, fire quenching, heart-softening, soul-cleansing, healing and fructifying streams: Welcome then should we make these streams to our souls in this dry and thirsty land. Likewise the rock was to the Israelites a shadow from the heat, and a covert from tempest and storms: So Christ our rock screens us from the scorching heat of vindictive justice, and from the waves and billows of God’s wrath. How necessary and useful is the rock Christ to the souls of fallen men! Oh, let me never, Jeshurun-like, lightly esteem this rock of our salvation. O let me never go to false rocks, or false streams, for shelter or supply in straits, when the true rock is so near, and the saving streams run close by my door; yea, follow me daily in the channel of the words and sacraments: Streams appointed by heaven to answer all the cases and ailments of lost sinners. 

O shall God in his tender mercy provide such a wonderful remedy, set the rock a broach for me, and cause its streams to follow me; and shall I be so foolish as to turn my back upon them, and refuse to apply or make use of them? O save me from such cursed ingratitude and madness: I believe, Lord, help my unbelief. 

O how much should my heart be affected at thy holy table, when I see the rock of my salvation smitten by the rod of justice, and behold the bloody spear pierce into his heart! O rock of ages, what made thee to rend and cleave so! O brightness of thy father’s glory, who hath disfigured thee so? O river of life, clear as crystal, who hath troubled thee so? Oh, it was my sins, my pride, my passion, my unbelief, my worldliness, my hardness, my impenitence, &c. These were the cause of my redeemer’s sufferings. The iniquities of sinful men were laid upon him. When he was pierced, it was I that should have been smitten. When he groaned and sweat blood, I should have howled and roared in hell. Harder than the rock is my heart, if I can see my dear Saviour smitten and pierced, and not mourn. 

O can I see his side and heart streaming out blood, and mine eyes not pour out tears! Can I behold the rock smitten for the sins of men, and not adore the holiness and justice of God manifested therein? Can I see my innocent Saviour wounded and slain for my sins, and my soul not hate them? Yea, shall I not be filled with horror and trembling at temptations to sin? 

Let me, at my Saviour’s call, approach to his table, and come near to the rock of my salvation, and hearken to the raging billows of infinite wrath, dashing against the rock for my sins, and even making the rock to groan, sweat and tremble under the pressure. O what a dreadful hurricane of wrath did he endure, to keep the swelling ocean of divine wrath from overflowing guilty men! Surely my glorious Immanuel’s groaning and sweating blood under the strokes of God’s vengeance, is a greater evidence of the implacable wrath and indignation of God against sin, than if he had hurled all the rocks of the creation into the midst of the sea, yea, or a thousand worlds of men and angels into hell. O that, while I am beholding this sight, I may tremble at sin, come by faith under the shadow of this rock, and run into the clefts of it for safety. Here I would be out of the reach of the law’s curses and threatenings of wrath; and though I hear the roarings and dashings of the sea upon the rock, yet a drop of it could not touch me. 

O that I could imitate Moses, when I am at the table, and smite the rock by the rod of faith, that the streams of Christ’s blood and Spirit may flow out to me. What was his error wilt be my wisdom, to smite the rock oftner than once, to put forth many acts of faith on Jesus Christ, such as the discerning, assenting, approving, deriving, receiving, closing, embracing, trusting, pleading, applying and appropriating acts of true faith. May I, like Israel of old (Deuteronomy 32:13), be helped by faith to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock: honey and oil, sweetness and fatness, quickening and comfort. How shall I come at this honey and oil? Only by sucking: ‘And how shall I suck, but by the mouth of faith? There is no sucking without it. Neither can I suck by faith, unless God make me do it; for it is said, “He made him to suck honey out of the rock.” It is God that must give me both a mouth and strength to suck, faith in the habit, and faith in exercise. It is only the blowings of the north and south winds on the garden, that make the fragrance to flow out. Awake, O north wind, come thou south, blow upon my garden; bring faith to life, that I may suck honey from Christ in the sacrament. … O let not faith be wanting, for if it be wanting, I can suck nothing. Blessed be God, Jesus Christ, my Redeemer, who is the author of faith. Lord, increase my faith, that I may suck honey from the rock. But what honey may I expect from it? Answer: The honey of pardon of sin. O how sweet is this honey! The honey of peace and reconciliation with God; the honey of a law-biding righteousness; the honey of access to, and communion with God; the honey of enlargement of heart, and loosing of bonds, &c. O let me ever suck from this rock, the rock that answers all my needs, and richly supplies all my wants. Let me also under all my straits, support myself with the psalmist’s cordial, Psalm 43:46, “The Lord liveth, and blessed be my rock.” Why should believers in Christ droop in any condition, or look as dead men, while their Lord liveth, and their rock standeth? Blessed be God, my rock is a living and lasting rock: My hopes may die, my comforts die, my frame die, my gifts, my wealth, and my relations, they may all die; but I rejoice in the news, that my Lord will not die, nor my rock fall. He once died for me, but he is risen again; good news! Now he is alive and will die no more. Amen.