Hematohidrosis: This is the official medical term for the condition Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is caused by extreme stress bursting the blood vessels near the sweat glands. The blood is then pushed through the sweat glands. It is very rare because few people experience stress to this level. Now, it would seem that someone as close to God, the Father, would have been able to handle a great deal of stress and anxiety. He is the Prince of Peace after all. And many other people had faced crucifixion and beatings at the hands of the most cruel Roman soldiers, but few would have ever sweat blood. Jesus came to Earth choosing to live as a man, though He was God. He therefore relied upon the Holy Spirit and prayer as we all need to do, but He was in complete unity with God unlike most of us. Most of us, though we are believers, we are conflicted. This is evident from our sin. We are all in for God one moment and rebelling against Him the next. We are Peter pledging undying allegiance, then denying Him in the moment of temptation. Yet, most of us have never experienced this kind of stress. I would dare say that even tortured and martyred Christians throughout the centuries probably did not experience stress so intense that they sweat drops of blood. Could it be that the intense anxiety was not about the cross? Could it be that it was not about the cat of nine tails being ripped across his flesh over and over again? (A cat of nine tails is a Roman whip with nine leather ‘tails’ containing lead balls and glass used in flogging.)
Don’t get me wrong. I would have been beyond stressed if I had been in the place of Christ living as a human, but with divine knowledge of everything that He was about to experience. He knew every word that would be said, every lie propagated against Him, the people calling for Barabbas, the beatings, his beard being pulled out, the beating, and the excruciating pain of the cross. He understood that death on the cross caused a medical condition where people literally die from drowning on their own blood as it gets into their lungs. What a horrible death! I would have been beyond myself.
But Christ? I don’t think this was the issue. I don’t think the physical beatings were the source of such stress and anxiety that pushed blood from his pores. I am not a doctor and I don’t play one on tv J, but in my mind, He was so close to the Lord and the Holy Spirit would have been so present with Him that I believe the peace we see from Him on the cross was evident that it was not the physical torture that was causing such extreme anxiety within his spirit as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
To me, the source of this stress comes out and we get a glimpse of it when Jesus, hanging on the cross, cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!” The sky turned black as Jesus was made to be the sin of the world and God, the Father, turned away from Christ and the Son was forsaken in that moment by the Father.
Never before that moment and not since has anyone ever experienced the complete absence of God in their life. Adam and Eve created in the presence of God and even after they were banished from the Garden of Eden, the Lord went with them and blessed them. The Lord was with the people of Noah’s time. Though they completely rejected Him, His presence abided with them in the person and words of Noah. Throughout all of history, the presence of God has been with humanity.
The Scripture says that the Lord rains on the good and the evil. Those who worship Satan openly and blatantly, atheists, those devout to other religions all still experience the presence of God that abides pursuing every soul upon this Earth. The only other place where there is a complete absence of God as Christ experienced in that moment would be Hell. Oh, I know that many of you have gone through times where it felt to you as if God had forsaken you, but He is true to His promise to never forsake you. He may not always do what you hope He will do, but His presence is always all around you. We all, believers and unbelievers, live in the midst of His grace and mercy as He works to draw us near to Him.
Jesus is the only person ever to truly experience Hell on Earth. The total absence of God is what brought the Prince of Peace to his knees, body weakened, stress bursting blood vessels, pressure pushing blood through the pores of his skin. The total absence of God is the total absence of love; the total absence of peace; the total absence of mercy, of goodness, of everything and anything good. And why did the Father put the Son through this Hell? Because He was taking our punishment. What we deserved was pressed upon Christ so that we might not ever have to experience it. He turned His back on His only begotten Son so that no matter what we do, He is able to keep His promise of never leaving and never forsaking. Jesus went through Hell that we might have the most beautiful gift of God’s presence.
And how do we respond to this? Do we cling to this gift as if precious or is it a gift that we take hold of occasionally? If Christ went through this Hell that we might have the presence of God, it just seems to me that we should honor above everything else in our life, that very presence of God. Yet, I will be the first to confess that I take the presence of God for granted. I trust that He will be there for me, but I do not spend the time I should in His presence. I think that is true of the Church of Christ today. We neglect our private prayers. Even in times of worship, we do not worship in a way that we connect with His Spirit. We do not spend time with Him, listening to His words spoken to us through the Scriptures. Church is an afterthought way too often. He went through Hell on Earth to give us the full embodiment of love, mercy, peace, joy, and goodness through the presence of God, but we are too busy, too tired, too focused on other things, too ungrateful, too anger, too sad, too depressed to spend time with Him, in His presence.
May the Lord help us to honor the gift of His presence as we should and thanks be to God; THANKS BE TO GOD! Thanks be to God for going through what no man or woman has ever or will ever experience on this Earth. And You did it for me. And He did it for you. May the Lord be praised!
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