Last night our Senior Pastor, Keith Jackson, taught us beautifully about the Agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. It resonated so much with me, as much of my quiet time this week has centred on Luke’s moving and detailed account of this stress-filled night. Luke, a Doctor, is the only gospel writer who notes that Christ experienced Hematohidrosis, a condition in which capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing them to exude blood, occurring under conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress. This also happens in times of acute fear and intense mental contemplation. Luke tells us specifically that “being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44) Hematohidrosis – sweating blood – has been recorded more recently in people about to be executed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2810702).
Why so much stress? Firstly, he was about to die, at the hands of His enemies. He was also totally innocent, but was about to bear the sin, and the guilt, of the entire world. Betrayal at the hands of one of his disciples was also so much to bear.
Luke has already mentioned that Jesus prayed “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”(Luke 22:42). What struck me so forcibly was that Jesus had a choice. The whole plan of salvation, of rescuing the world from sin, hinges on this one moment. Yes, He was “obedient to death— even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8) – but this means that it was a real choice.
He could have said “No”.
Jesus, at the extremity of “acute fear and intense mental contemplation”, had to consider whether or not he would go through with the Eternal Plan. He came to a crisis point – and He asked God for a way out. But He also submitted totally to the Father’s will. The courage to do this is beyond our understanding, and mere words will be totally inadequate to describe the intensity of suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane.
LOZENGE MOMENT – something to savour the taste of…
Have you ever been under extreme stress? Hold onto the realization that Jesus has also experienced stress, and so much of it, that he can always empathise with how scary it feels. But Jesus is also “Immanuel” – God with us. He does not shy away from being in the stress with you, and helping you through it. Lean into Him, and trust in His willingness to make the choice that brought Life to the World