Agony, Sweat, Blood

As Resurrection Sunday, April 4, 2021, nears, I am pondering different aspects of the hard walk Jesus took for me, for many such as myself. He took my sins to the Cross where He was nailed, NAILED, to a cross and left to die. It is a horrible way to die in the reading I have done. There is another piece of this that has given me questions and that is the sweat that “became like great drops of blood.”

And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:41-44

Jesus went to Gethsemane to pray, to be alone, although some of the apostles were nearby. Jesus was in agony. He needed strengthening by an angel. He asked His Father to remove the cup. Yet He prayed for God’s will to be done. This is hardly the Jesus I read about…healing, loving others, having compassion for the dying, giving water to the woman at the well. Yet, it is the same Jesus.

ἀγωνία

agōnia

  1. a struggle for victory
    1. gymnastic exercise, wrestling
  2. of severe mental struggles and emotions, agony, anguish

Jesus was human. Jesus knew what was to come for Him. He knew sin. He knew why He was on this earth. In His humanness, He had been tempted.

C. H. Spurgeon writes so decisively: The temptations were, doubtless, of the very foulest character, but they left no speck or flaw upon him, who remained still the fairest among ten thousand. The prince of this world came, but he had nothing in Christ. He struck the sparks, but they did not fall, as in our case, upon dry tinder; they fell as into the sea, and were quenched at once. He hurled the fiery arrows, but they could not even scar the flesh of Christ; they smote upon the buckler of his perfectly righteous nature, and they fell off with their points broken, to the discomfiture of the adversary. *

This is our Jesus. Jesus answered each temptation with the Word of God. Jesus knew each and every one of us so very well. He knew we were fallen and He had come to save us. The only way to do that was to take our sins to the Cross where He would be crucified. He knew these truly agonizing realities. He loved us and hated sin. We was willing to be our Savior yet had to pay the price of death on that awful Cross.

As Jesus came to the Garden of Gethsemane, He took three men with Him and spoke some solemn words to them:

And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with Me.” Matthew 26:37-38

And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” Mark 14:33-34

Jesus said those words out loud…that His soul was “very sorrowful.”

C. H. Spurgeon prays: O blessed Saviour, how can we bear to think of thee as a man astonished and alarmed! Yet was it even so when the terrors of God set themselves in array against thee. Luke uses the strong language of my text-“being in an agony.” These expressions, each of them worthy to be the theme of a discourse, are quite sufficient to show that the grief of the Saviour was of the most extraordinary character; well justifying the prophetic exclamation “Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow which was done unto me.” He stands before us peerless in misery. None are molested by the powers of evil as he was; as if the powers of hell had given commandment to their legions, “Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king himself.” *

Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger. Lamentations 1:12

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Lamentations: Lamentations 1:12-22 Jerusalem, sitting dejected on the ground, calls on those that passed by, to consider whether her example did not concern them. Her outward sufferings were great, but her inward sufferings were harder to bear, through the sense of guilt. Sorrow for sin must be great sorrow, and must affect the soul. Here we see the evil of sin, and may take warning to flee from the wrath to come. Whatever may be learned from the sufferings of Jerusalem, far more may be learned from the sufferings of Christ. Does he not from the cross speak to every one of us? Does he not say, Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Let all our sorrows lead us to the cross of Christ, lead us to mark his example, and cheerfully to follow him.

God, please forgive me. Not only have I sinned, but I so hurt my Jesus. I am so grateful that He loved me then and still loves me, that He would die for me that I may have life eternally. Yet, knowing and feeling just a tiny bit of the agony I caused Him crushes my heart and soul…even this day as I type. I am so sorry, so sorry, Lord Jesus. In Your Holy Name I pray. Amen.

And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:44

θρόμβος

thrombos

in the sense to thicken; a large thick drop, esp. of clotted blood

Luke, the author of both Luke and Acts, was a physician. “Of the four gospel writers, only Dr. Luke referred to Jesus’ ordeal as “agony” (agonia). It is because of this agony over things to come that we learn during His prayer ‘his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground’ (Luke 22:44). Only Luke referred to Jesus’ sweat (idros)—a much used medical term. And only Luke referred to Jesus’ sweat as consisting of great drops of blood (thromboi haimatos)—a medical condition alluded to by both Aristotle and Theophrastus.1 The Greek term thromboi (from which we get thrombus, thrombin, et al.) refers to clots of blood.Bible scholar Richard Lenski commented on the use of this term: ‘As clots,’ thromboi, means that the blood mingled with the sweat and thickened the globules so that they fell to the ground in little clots and did not merely stain the skin. 3” (by Dave Miller, Ph.D.) **

“A thorough search of the medical literature demonstrates that such a condition, while admittedly rare, does occur in humans. Commonly referred to as hematidrosis or hemohidrosis,6 this condition results in the excretion of blood or blood pigment in the sweat. Under conditions of great emotional stress, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can rupture,7 thus mixing blood with perspiration. This condition has been reported in extreme instances of stress.8 During the waning years of the 20th century, 76 cases of hematidrosis were studied and classified into categories according to causative factors. The most frequent causes of the phenomenon were found to be “acute fear” and “intense mental contemplation.”9 While the extent of blood loss generally is minimal, hematidrosis also results in the skin becoming extremely tender and fragile,10 which would have made Christ’s pending physical insults even more painful.” (Dave Miller, Ph.D.) **

After reading about this condition and the way human bodies can react to extreme stress, to that which Jesus faced, and He absolutely knew what He faced because of Who He was, I am so humbled. Before I knew Christ as my Lord and Savior, yet as I was beginning to understand why I needed Him, the guilt and shame began to wipe over me. I needed to acknowledge those feelings, as Christ endured so much for me. So very much.

Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. Hebrews 12:3-4

No, I have not. But Christ did. I am overwhelmed in what began as a simple word study on the sweat and blood combining. Yet the agony became the focal point, the sweat and blood attached. I am in awe at my Christ. I am so sorry for all that I caused Him. This has brought me to my knees. I know too that when I am weakened, He is strong. Even Christ needed strength when He was weakened, tempted, wanted His Father to take the cup. Jesus went alone to Him in prayer, humbled on His knees. He called upon the Name of the Father, to Whom He trusted and knew wholly. His earnest prayer led His body reacting in a way I did not understand until now. Thenthere seems to be a sense of calm about Jesus after praying. How could that be? Look at what He faced! And Jesus knew what He faced. Yet He goes to His friends who were sleeping and calls to them:

And when He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:45-46

And then the crowd came with Judas amongst them:

While He was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss Him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:47-48

And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And He touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against Him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” Luke 22:50-53

Jesus seemed calm, not filled with joy or any such emotion, but He seemed to calm the storm encircling Him. He healed the man’s ear. He spoke to the priests. He had asked Judas a question before Judas would take action.

Jesus had prayed. He knew how to pray for He taught us. And Jesus knew the outcome of all that was to come. Prayer can draw the calm and peace down upon one who needs that at the very moment they are needed.

LORD, I come to You with pain in my soul for all that Jesus had to endure for me. I am sorry for the human race’s disobedience to You since the beginning of time. We lost so much, yet we gained the Savior, the Lord, the One and Only Trinity Whom we can call upon at any time knowing that we are heard. I thank You for forgiving me in all of my weaknesses and failings, for all of my sin. Satan has beat me up many times, yet I so desire to be obedient to You and You Alone. I am loving the grace and mercy You have showered over and upon me by Your salvation in the sacrifice of Your One and Only Son.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Revelation 12:10-11

May I follow in the footsteps of my Christ, carrying my cross, holding fast to my Savior till my day comes to live in eternity with Him. In Your beautiful Name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.

P.S. May I recommend reading this whole sermon! It is so full of power and Truth. ~ C. H. Spurgeon: A Sermon (No. 493), Delivered on Sabbath Morning, February 8th, 1863, by the REV. C. H. SPURGEON At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *

References:

1 William K. Hobart (1882), The Medical Language of St. Luke (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1954 reprint), pp. 80-84.

2 W. Robertson Nicoll, ed. (no date), The Expositor’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1:631; M.R. Vincent (1887), Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1946 reprint), 1:425.

3 R.C.H. Lenski (1961), The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg), p. 1077.

6 A.C. Allen (1967), The Skin: A Clinicopathological Treatise (New York: Grune and Stratton), second edition, pp. 745-747; “Hematidrosis” (2002), Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, p. 832, https://goo.gl/U192fY.

7 R. Lumpkin (1978), “The Physical Suffering of Christ,” Journal of Medical Association of Alabama, 47:8-10.

8 See R.L Sutton, Jr. (1956), Diseases of the Skin (St. Louis, MO: Mosby College Publishing), eleventh edition, pp. 1393-1394.

9 J.E. Holoubek and A.B. Holoubek (1996), “Blood, Sweat, and Fear. ‘A Classification of Hematidrosis,’” Journal of Medicine, 27[3-4]:115-33. See also J. Manonukul, W. Wisuthsarewong, et al. (2008), “Hematidrosis: A Pathologic Process or Stigmata. A Case Report with Comprehensive Histopathologic and Immunoperoxidase Studies,” American Journal of Dermatopathology, 30[2]:135-139, April; E. Mora and J. Lucas (2013),Hematidrosis: Blood Sweat,” Blood, 121[9]:1493, February 28.

10 P. Barbet (1953), A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ as Described by a Surgeon (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image Books), pp. 74-75; cf. Lumpkin, 1978

** Dave Miller, Ph.D. @ Apologetics Press

Photos/Graphics:

Jesus Praying painting @ Early Church History

Photo of blood: @ TruthWatchers

C.H. Spurgeon Quote/Graphic: @ Tim Challies

Not My Will-graphic on photo @ Walking in Sunlight

11 thoughts on “Agony, Sweat, Blood

  1. Maryleigh Bucher

    “He absolutely knew what He faced because of Who He was” – I remember the pain I felt after a crash c-section and the fear of experiencing that kind of pain again when I had my fifth child. The crown of thorns, the whipping, the carrying of the wood for the cross, the nailing of each hand – and then the feet, and then the lifting of the cross into position – like you point out – He absolutely knew the pain that would drive a man out of his mind was a crucial part of His mission. I think I need to remind myself over and over what He endured – thank you for explaining it in a way that makes me not want to rush over those details of His story to the resurrection ending – but to understand to better value what He went through for you and me!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The point about Jesus remaining calm knowing what was going to happen. It is amazing. I cannot even try to imagine what he was going though and the thoughts in his head to cause his blood and sweat to mingle and clot. That he remained calm, is amazing and shows the power of prayer. May I remember to pray more often when I am in need of calmness.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rebecca Hastings

    The idea of Jesus’ calmness in the midst of chaos, pain and uncertainty strikes me today. I’m often anything but calm (especially in my mind), but He was calm. That’s so beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

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