When I taught high school religion, I would try to help my students understand a Bible passage pivotal to our Christian understanding of how frightened Jesus was the night before his death.
The event of Jesus Christ’s sweating blood is only found in Luke’s Gospel. It portrays a very frightened, yet very determined and obedient, middle-aged Jewish man. This might come as a surprise to those who believe Jesus went to His death with little pain and very little, if any, anguish. When we read this passage, we come to see that such a belief such is simply not true.
Researchers tell us that sweating blood, while a medical phenomenon, is extremely rare. In fact, those who sweat blood have overcome the incidence of going into shock, caused by such an extreme level of fear. It is quite likely Jesus was extremely frightened as he prayed in the garden with his apostles following the Last Supper and preceding his arrest and trial. Jesus was then sentenced to death by crucifixion, a form of execution the Romans adopted to discourage rebellion and resistance.
It is also likely those who were crucified carried only the crossbeam to their execution, as the vertical section of the cross was a permanent fixture on Golgotha, just outside of the walls of Jerusalem. The post would have been a continual reminder to Jewish people that crucifixion could be in their future if they disobeyed Roman rulers.
And yet, here was Jesus, a traveling preacher who had a faithful following, who performed miracles and spoke in parables to large crowds, a man who galvanized the people. And to the astonishment of many in His time, He was being crucified on what we have come to know as Good Friday.
Holy Week begins next Thursday. How do you plan to spend this holiest of times? Will you do all you can to experience a Holy Week that will cultivate a more dynamic faith throughout the coming year?
Kate Walsh Soucheray is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Stillwater. She works at Christian Heart Counseling at 275 Third Street South and can be reached at [email protected] or 651-439-2059 ext. 718.