And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
— Luke 22:43,44

Have you ever wondered where all your friends were at a time when you really needed them? They pledged they would be faithful, but when you needed them, they were nowhere to be found! Did you feel abandoned in that moment of need? Jesus Himself was confronted with that same situation when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion.

After Jesus was finished serving Communion to His disciples in the upper room, the Bible tells us that He went to the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples. Knowing the Cross and the grave was before Him, Jesus felt a need to spend time in intercession so He might have the strength needed to face what lay before Him. He also requested that Peter, James, and John come apart to pray with Him.

Rarely, if ever, did Jesus need His friends’ assistance; most of the time, they needed His! But in this intense moment, Jesus really felt a need to have the three disciples who were closest to Him pray with Him. Jesus asked these disciples to pray for just one hour. But instead of faithfully praying when Jesus desperately needed their support, they kept falling asleep!

*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]

bookmark2The mental and spiritual battle Jesus was experiencing that night in the Garden of Gethsemane was intense. In fact, Luke 22:44 says, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

Today I want you to especially notice the word “agony” in this verse. It comes from the Greek word agonidzo, a word that refers to a struggle, a fight, great exertion, or effort. It is where we get the word agony — a word often used in the New Testament to convey the ideas of anguish, pain, distress, and conflict. The word agonidzo itself comes from the word agon, which is the word that depicted the athletic conflicts and competitions that were so famous in the ancient world.

The Holy Spirit used this word to picture Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal. This tells us that Jesus was thrown into a great struggle and fight that night. Knowing that the Cross and the grave were before Him, He cried out, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me…” (Luke 22:42).

The spiritual pressure that bore down upon Jesus’ soul was so overwhelming that the Bible says it was agonidzo, or agony. It was so strenuous that it involved all of Jesus’ spirit, soul, and body. He was in the greatest fight He had ever known up to that moment.

Jesus’ intense level of agony is depicted in the phrase, “…he prayed more earnestly….” The word “earnestly” is the Greek word ektenes, a Greek word that means to be extended or to be stretched out. A person in this kind of agony might drop to the ground, writhing in pain and rolling this way and that way. This word ektenes presents the picture of a person who is pushed to the limit and can’t be stretched much more. He is on the brink of all he can possibly endure.

Jesus’ emotional state was so intense that it says “…his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” The “sweat” is the Greek word idros. The word “drops” is the Greek word thrombos, a medical word that points to blood that is unusually thickly clotted. When these two words are joined, they depict a medical condition called hematidrosis — a condition that occurs only in individuals who are in a highly emotional state.

Because the mind is under such great mental and emotional pressure, it sends signals of stress throughout the human body. These signals become so strong that the body reacts as if it were under actual physical pressure. As a result, the first and second layer of skin separate, causing a vacuum to form between them. Thickly clotted blood seeps from this vacuum, oozing through the pores of the skin. Once the blood seeps through, it mingles with the sufferer’s sweat that pours from his skin as a result of his intense inner struggle. In the end, the blood and sweat mix together and flow down the victim’s face like droplets to the ground.

This was the worst spiritual combat Jesus had ever endured up to this time. Where were His disciples when He needed them? They were sleeping! He needed His closest friends — yet they couldn’t even pray for one hour! So God provided strength for Jesus in another way, which we will see in tomorrow’s Sparkling Gem.

Have you ever felt a need for help but found your friends couldn’t be counted on? Did you find your friends sleeping on the job when you felt a deep need for help and support? Were you in a situation that caused you to feel intense agony or pushed to the limit? Are you in that kind of situation right now?

Maybe you’ve never sweat blood and tears. But more than likely, you have struggled in your soul at one time or another because of problems with your marriage, your children, your relationships, your ministry, or your finances. If you’ve ever felt like you were constantly living in a “pressure cooker,” you know that continuous pressure is hard to deal with — especially if you have no one to lean on for strength, encouragement, and help.

If you are experiencing one of those times right now, Jesus understands because He faced the same situation in the Garden of Gethsemane. Hebrews 2:18 says, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” Because of what Jesus experienced, He is able to understand everything you are thinking and feeling today. So take a few minutes to pray, and talk to Jesus about the situations you are facing. He empathizes completely, and He will give you the strength you need to make it today!

sparking gems from the greek

My Prayer for Today

Lord, I need a little relief from the stress and pressure I’ve been under lately. I’m so thankful You understand what I’m feeling and going through in my life right now. Sometimes I feel so lonely in my situation. Even when my friends want to help, I don’t know how to express myself. But I know that You understand me, even when I can’t get the right words out of my mouth. So, Lord, today I am asking You to come alongside me in a special way. Undergird me with Your strength, power, and wisdom. Thank You for understanding me and for helping me today!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

sparking gems from the greek

My Confession for Today

I boldly confess that Jesus Christ understands and empathizes with me and the situations I am facing right now. Because He understands, I go to Him and talk to Him, knowing that He hears me when I pray. And not only does He listen to me, but He also answers the prayers and the cries of my heart. I do not have to face my challenges today alone because Jesus is with me, empowering me to stand tall, to stand firm, and to hold my head high! With Him as my Helper, I will not only survive but will thrive and prosper in spite of what the devil has tried to do to me.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

sparking gems from the greek

Questions to Answer

1. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were pushed to the limit of what you thought you could endure?

2. In that situation, did you turn to the Lord for strength and comfort and talk to Him about it?

3. In what way did the Lord bring strength and comfort to your soul when there may not have been another person there to help you?