Being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22:44)
The medical term is hematidrosis, also called “blood sweat.” Medical journals explain it this way: Near the sweat glands, there are multiple blood vessels in a net-like form, which constrict under the pressure of great stress. Then, as the anxiety passes, the blood vessels dilate to the point of rupture and blood goes into the sweat glands.
Now let us return to today’s passage and prayerfully consider the deep truth revealed to us. You see, as Jesus knelt in Gethsemane, He fully understood what He was about to do. He was going to a cross to drink the full cup of God’s wrath and judgment, and He was doing it on our behalf. The anguish Jesus experienced was both raw and real, an intensity that was surpassed only by His earnest prayer to His Father in heaven. Our Lord’s agony in Gethsemane teaches us a profound biblical truth: there is no pain and trauma we experience in life that Jesus did not experience Himself—and then even beyond what we can begin to comprehend, such as experiencing the full measure of God’s holy hatred for sin at Calvary.
Jesus was a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Many Bible translators note that the Hebrew word makob, which the NIV Bible translates as “sorrows” in Isaiah 53:3, can also be rendered as “pain.” Indeed, the NET Bible translates that passage, “He was . . . one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness” (emphasis added). Christian, you are not alone in your anguish or agony. Elsewhere in Isaiah we read, “In all their affliction [the Lord] was afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9 ESV).
During pastoral counselling sessions, it is not uncommon for someone to say, “You just don’t understand what I’m going through!” That is often true; I haven’t experienced what that individual has, and thus I can only sympathize, not truly empathize. But there is One who does understand, and His name is Jesus. He knows our frustrations and fears. He knows our doubts and our defeats. He knows our misfortune and our misery. He knows everything about our story – because He is the One who wrote it!
Regardless of where this message finds you today, always remember that Jesus is in it with you. He lived your loneliness. He suffered your storms. He conquered your challenges. He participated in your pain. He was “tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin: (Hebrews 4:15). He walked where you walk and is walking it all over again with you. When He said He would never leave nor forsake you, He meant what He said! Jesus is in you, with you, and for you, and He will sustain you during whatever storms you are currently facing.
His drops of blood sweat are like battle scars that shout from heaven, “I have overcome the world; don’t give in and don’t give up!”
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!