Day 23: Sweating Drops of Blood
The intensity of Jesus’ agony and fervency was so profound that Luke tells us that His “sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” There is some debate as to whether Luke was describing actual hematidrosis, where intense emotional or physical distress can cause the capillaries near the sweat glands to burst and mix with the sweat, or if the word “like” means Luke was merely intending the description as a simile.
Spurgeon says that the use of the word like signified not a mere resemblance, but the identical thing. Wayne Johnson points out the term like was also used by Luke when describing the Holy Spirit’s descent at Jesus’ baptism— descending like a dove. And in Luke’s account of that event it is clear that a dove was present (see 3:22). Therefore the use of the word like, particularly in that it was used by the same writer, does not preclude it being true hematidrosis.
It is noteworthy that this was a cool night, as evidenced by the use of a fire to warm themselves in the High Priest’s courtyard, so even just profuse sweating would be indicative of extreme distress. Regardless of the nature of the blood or sweat, the point remains the same: the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental agony Jesus was experiencing as He cried out in prayer produced an unusual bodily occurrence that indicated how truly anguished He was.
Jonathan Edwards notes that “the word rendered ‘great drops’ is in the original gromboi, which properly signifies lumps or clots; for we may suppose that the blood that was pressed out through the pores of His skin by the violence of that inward struggle and conflict that there was…fell off from Him not in drops, but in clots.” It is difficult for us to comprehend the intensity of Jesus’ agony, but a careful reading of these Scriptures helps us gain a glimmer. In the deepest agony we have known, have we ever been brought to the place of sweating blood? Yet, this was Jesus’ experience as He wrestled with the thought of taking the cup of our sin and God’s wrath for it. It should give us a clearer sense of the depravity of our sin and the terror of God’s wrath, and it should sober us, cause us wonder, and change our way of treating our sin so lightly.
• What have been your times of extreme physical or emotional distress? What were your thoughts and reactions during that time?
• In what ways does considering Jesus’ response to seeing our sin and God’s wrath change your understanding of these two subjects? What insights have you gained as we have focused on their affects on Jesus
I have, indeed, been increasingly sobered as I look at what You suffered at the view of the horror of my sin and the terror of God’s wrath for it. I am convicted that I treat my sin too lightly, and the sin around me with
hardened indifference. Seeing Jesus’ fervor stirs my own. May it not be a fleeting conviction, but a true transformation of my prayer life and my pursuit of holy living.
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries