The Canadian Medical Association Journal recently published an article on the case of a 21-year-old Italian woman who has been bleeding blood from her face and hands.
Italian doctors reported that over the past three years the woman has gone through episodes were she spontaneously bled blood without any breakage in the skin. According to their report the episodes would last up to five minutes.
Though they occurred at any time from sleep to periods of exercise, doctors noted the bleeding intensified when she was under emotional stress.
Embarrassed by her condition, the young woman was becoming a loner refusing to leave her home.
After ruling out chromhidrosis, a condition that causes discolored sweat, doctors diagnosed the young woman with a rare condition called hematohidrosis – ‘blood sweat’, when people actually sweat blood.
Some believe it’s caused by rupturing capillaries near the sweat glands. This can happen during times of extreme fear or stress. An Indian health journal reported ‘blood sweat’ in cases of people about to be executed and even cited an incident that took place during the bombing of London in World War II.
Doctors were able to alleviate, but not completely cure the young woman’s condition, by prescribing high-blood pressure medication.
Many of us are familiar of the account in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus sweated blood during an intense time of prayer just before His crucifixion:
44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. (Luke 22:44 NASV)
The Greek word ‘agonia’ refers to “extreme mental distress,” “intense sorrow,” “conflict” and “agony.”
Matthew similarly reported on Christ’s emotional turmoil:
38 Then He *said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” (Matthew 26:38 NASV)
39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39 NASV)
What is this cup that Jesus referred to?
In Genesis, God told Abraham that he would not inherit the promised land, but it would be his descendants because the Amorites’s iniquity was not yet full. Once full, it would result in their expulsion from the land (Genesis 15:16).
When Israel entered the promised land, God told Israel that they were not inheriting it because of their righteousness, but because God was driving out the inhabitants due to their wickedness (Deuteronomy 9:4-5).
Once their iniquity is full, God’s wrath is handed out to the nations in a cup (Revelation 14:10; Psalm 11:6). Once they received this cup, their judgement came violently often through defeat in battle and captivity (Jeremiah 25:15-38). Jeremiah describes this judgement as a time of horror (v 18).
The prophet also provides a unique description of people being forced to drink from this cup because of their sin:
12 For thus says the Lord, “Behold, those who were not sentenced to drink the cup will certainly drink it, and are you the one who will be completely acquitted? You will not be acquitted, but you will certainly drink it. (Jeremiah 49:12 NASV)
The intense agony Jesus experienced in the garden was the understanding that God was placing the sin of the world upon Him, and He would now drink the cup of God’s wrath. This revelation was so stressful it resulted in ‘blood sweat.’
In fact, it may have been at this moment in the garden when God placed the sin of the world upon His sacrificial Lamb.