I was listening to a sermon podcast where the preacher went on about the depth of Jesus’ anguish being so great that he sweat blood. Can I just say that this is yet another pet peeve of mine? The scriptures do not say that Jesus sweat blood.

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; NASU)

Andbeing in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (ESV)

Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. (HCSB)

In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. (NRSV)

And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (TNIV)

He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. (NLT)

Has our grasp of the English language become shaky that we cannot understand that the scriptures are not saying that blood came from Jesus’ head? Jesus’ sweat was so profuse and so great that it was like how blood would pour to the ground.

I am thankful the NLT Study Bible decided to clear this up:

22:44 his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood: The text does not say that Jesus sweated blood, as is often supposed, but that his sweat fell like blood pouring to the ground, which probably means that in his agony he sweated profusely.

The ESV Study Bible goes about it differently:

22:44 Jesus was in agony (Gk. agnia) in anticipation of bearing “our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24), and therefore he prayed more earnestly. This sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Though the word “like” may indicate that this is to be understood metaphorically, there are both ancient and modern accounts on record of people sweating blood–a condition known as hematidrosis, where extreme anguish or physical strain causes one’s capillary blood vessels to dilate and burst, mixing sweat and blood. In either case, Luke’s main purpose is to highlight the intensity of Jesus’ emotional and physical trauma.

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I think we can set aside the medical accounts and medical arguments that people have had sweat become mixed with blood since the scripture does not say that Jesus sweat blood, had bloody sweat, or that his sweat was blood. His sweat fell to the ground like a large outpouring of blood. This does not change the amount of agony Jesus was in. To sweat to the point of it pouring off of one’s head reveals great intensity and anguish. But let us just leave it at that.

1 Comment

  1. Yes! I recently made the same observation about the word “like” and was looked upon as being so misguided to not say that Jesus’ sweat was bloody! Sometimes traditions are simply wrong.