And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Luke 22:39-44 ESV
Why do we refer to Jesus’ last days on earth as Passion Week? Others refer to this same time as Holy Week, but here at BelPres we have been calling it Passion Week. What is the significance of such a name, and why should it matter to anyone? When I think of this question I only think of one thing: blood.
Jesus began his ministry being baptized, a symbolism of rebirth to us, a transformation. From there he begins to teach the ways of God to the people; inside synagogues (equivalent of a church today); out on the streets; and those who did not have the common religion of the Jews. Jesus toils with the people for three years, using stories and scripture to bring the good news to all. He performs miracles, feeds the hungry, heals the lame, and even brings back the dead. All of these acts came out of his passion for all people. Jesus was on a mission to save all who accept him.
There were times when he had to move quickly, otherwise he would be imprisoned or killed. But he kept on trucking, as we would say today. He needed to complete his work in order for us all to be saved. But the troubling part is how he could do this.
Jesus knew what no one else did: his blood would pay the price that must be paid in order to save the world. He would mention to those closest to him, his disciples, that his time is coming and he would be slain (Luke 9:22). His disciples did not understand what Jesus was talking about; nobody did. Yet, this weight was constantly on Jesus because he knew his time was short. Regardless of his eminent death, out his passion for our salvation, he continued doing God’s will. It was the only option, and no one could stand in his place.
At the very end before Jesus’ capture, torture, and crucifixion, he prays and pleads with God at a place called The Mount of Olives. “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42 ESV). He is scared: a notion not common among stories of gods. Because Jesus was fully man, he faced the same fear that we all do. Following this prayer an angel appears to Jesus to strengthen him and he prays even more earnestly. At this time, although not mentioned, one can gather that Jesus literally has the weight of the world on his shoulders. The text continues, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44 ESV). This part of the account causes me to pause and think.
Before any man lays a hand on Jesus, whips him, breaks his bones, and makes him bleed, Jesus’ blood is already being spent.
He knows what lies ahead, and this knowledge causes him immense agony, not only for his own life, but ours too. This is a crossroads. He could flee and save his own life, but at the cost of the world or he could follow through. Jesus’ sweating blood is a condition we call today Hematidrosis. It is most frequently caused by extreme fear and mental contemplation. Some instances where this condition has been seen include an individual fearing rape, facing a storm while sailing, and those condemned to execution. In the case of execution those involved knew there was no way out; death was quickly at hand. Jesus had to face this same fear and his passion for us was worth the cost.
His passion for heaven being filled with us, plus his teaching of the true character of God, plus payment by his blood equals our salvation. The passion of Christ transformed the world over two millennia ago, how is it going to transform you today?