Luke 22:44 - Bloody Sweat
And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.Luke 22:44
While He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemene, bloody sweat was pressed out of our Lord. What was it that pressed bloody sweat out of Him? Two things: The weight of our sins and the wrath of God.
So often we focus on the blood of the cross. But the Lord began shedding blood before the cross. He shed blood when the soldiers place a crown of thorns upon His head and beat it down upon His brow. He shed blood when Pilate had Him whipped, when His back was flayed open till the bones of His rib cage were exposed and His blood flowed. There was the blood that poured out with the water after He had died and the soldier had pierced His side with a spear. Yes, the bloodshed for the forgiveness of sins.
But what of this blood in the garden? The sweat mingled with blood? What does that have to do with anything? Is this significant?
Yes, this too is a matter of revelation. This too is important for our salvation. Although some Bible translations incorrectly put this verse in a footnote, this is not just a footnote to the Lord’s life and work!
There is a great difference between this blood and the blood of Gabbatha, the place of judgment. For there the blood was shed by human weapons – by thorns and a whip.
There is a great difference between the blood of Golgotha and the blood of Gethsemene. Golgotha’s blood was evoked by nails and a spear.
In Gethsemene, the blood came from within. It was pressed out of Him.
The Lord was sorrowful unto death. He cast himself down before the Father and prayed in the agony of His soul. He sweat blood, but it was not a human weapon that forced it out. Not whip or sword. Not thorn or nail. Not human earthly things, but heavenly things. He sweat blood before His Father.
The whole universe demanded Christ’s blood. Earth and heaven, our sins and the wrath of God against our sins, called for it.
Here in Gethsemene He was alone. No one touched Him. He came before the Father and said,
Father take this cup from me, this cup of suffering. Take this cup of your holy wrath away from me.
But ... But your will be done. I will obey. I will do what you want of me.
He did this in His perfect obedience. Your will be done. Not your plan. Not your secret counsel. That is not what the Lord Jesus prayed for. No, he said your will be done. I will obey. I will obey your will for it alone is good. This obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ cost Him His life. This obedience cost Him His blood. He sacrificed His blood.
An angel from heaven came to strengthen Him (v. 43). The angel did not come to share His suffering. He came so that the Lord could and would bear the full wrath of God. This was not respite from suffering. No, the angel came to save Him for the hour of suffering that was coming. The angel came to lend support to one who would have collapsed. He came so that the Christ would not yield. The angel came to strengthen Him, to give greater capacity for endurance. In order to suffer one must be strong. The angel actually, in His strengthening, increased the suffering. He did not make the suffering less. The Lord Jesus was not permitted to faint. He was not allowed to succumb. He had to endure the suffering.
And the Suffering One began to sweat blood.
He suffered under the hand of God. It was the weight of our sins and the burden of God’s wrath that pressed the blood out of Him. Men did not take it from Him. He sacrificed His blood in obedience. There He is bowed down in prayer alone before the Father, shedding His blood for you and for me.
Paul says somewhere that the cross is a stumbling block for Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. How can the Saviour of the world be struck down by the weapons of men? How can one whom ordinary soldiers can nail to a cross and kill be the one who bears the sins of the world and the sum of God’s wrath? How can the Messiah be killed?
But we see it more profoundly. How can the Christ be sweating blood before the face of God? Christ lay before the Father alone. The offense is not external. It is not the outside wounds. It is the weight of sin and wrath.
As long as Christ’s blood flows at the hands of sinful men we can protest. But when I see Christ’s blood flow because of the wrath of God then I can only believe.
This is the work of the Father. He required the blood of His Son. He required it of Him to pay for your sins and mine. This farewell in the garden was my fault, my work, because of my sins.
In Gethsemene Jesus Christ gave His blood for you and for me. The Father took it. But Jesus Christ also gave it. He gave His life blood. He sweat blood in the garden. And it poured out of Him. It was pressed out of Him as He went forward in perfect obedience.
For He rose and went on to meet His betrayer and His executioners. He went in perfect obedience to the Father that He might fulfill all the righteousness of God’s law for us. For in His obedience He has become our righteousness. Because of His obedience we need not bear the wrath of God. For we would be crushed if pressed by the weight of our sins and the burden of God’s wrath. We would be crushed like grapes in the winepress of God’s wrath.
Praise God and thank the Lord Jesus for the blood He shed for us among the olive trees as His disciples slept.