Jesus Prays in the Garden
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
Observations & Reflections
Sometimes it’s Luke’s gospel that ads interesting details. Often Mark is the descriptive one but when Jesus prays Luke is the only one that tries to quantify Jesus’ distance from where he was praying to where the disciples were standing watch. According to Luke it was “about a stone’s throw beyond them.” In Matthew and Mark it’s just said that Jesus “went forward a little”. As far as one can tell from the passage the addition of a distance indicator has no real affect on the story but it does make one wonder if Luke was copying from Mark or from the hypothetical Q source. It would seem that Luke is using a source outside of Mark for this passage since it hardy resembles the passage in Mark which was copied by Matthew very closely.
Nevertheless, Jesus’ prayer in the garden is one in which we can see that Jesus’ passion is nearing. He is aware that what will be done to him is terrible and agonizing. Jesus was not unaware of his nearing suffering. He was quite aware that he was going to suffer terribly yet he went through with it anyways. Even though he was agonized to the point of sweating blood.
It has been noted through history that Jesus’ sweat of blood is metaphorical however, there a re numerous cases of such sweat that has been recorded in modern and historical times. There is a medical word to describe such a condition and it’s called Hematohidrosis. According to the National Library of Medicine, Hematohidrosis can be caused by stress and/or anxiety. One recent case from Spain was accompanied by images to show the various locations where blood was seeping through the skin.
While it is hard to know if these people had the same physiological experience as Jesus (or vice versa), it is clear that such phenomenon is not unheard of. Certainly the emotional and mental stress placed on Jesus to be beaten, tortured, and murdered for the sins of all mankind could cause such a blood-filled sweat.