Jesus prayed in anguish in the garden of Gethsemane. There He faced his final temptation - the temptation to refuse the Cross. He asked His Father to remove the cup of His suffering and death if it were possible.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42 NIV)
Here we see Jesus in His full humanity, struggling with facing a death He knew would be cruel and vicious. He knew the right thing to do, but His humanity wanted to be spared the pain.
At Gethsemane, Jesus prayed in such anguish that He sweat blood and an angel came to minister to Him. Blood coming from sweat glands is called hematohidrosis. It usually occurs in bleeding disorders, but can occur when a person is under extreme stress. The Indiana Journal of Dermatology says this about hematohidrosis:
“Bloody sweating is called hematohidrosis; true hematohidrosis occurs in bleeding disorders. It may occur in individuals suffering from extreme levels of stress. Around the sweat glands, there are multiple blood vessels in a net-like form, which constrict under the pressure of great stress. Then, as the anxiety passes, the blood vessels dilate to the point of rupture and blood goes into the sweat glands. As the sweat glands produce a lot of sweat, they push the blood to the surface, which comes out as droplets of blood mixed with sweat.”
I am so thankful that Jesus did not give in to the anguish of His humanity and refuse to go to the Cross. I deserve that Cross. I am the sinner whose rebellion against the Living God has separated me from Him and requires a Sacrifice I cannot make. He took my pain. He took my punishment. He paid the price for my sin so I could be free from its consequence: death. Thank you, thank you, Jesus for praying the second half of that prayer at Gethsemane!
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Did you notice in the quote from the Indiana Journal of Dermatology that the blood vessels dilate to the point of rupture as the anxiety passes? Before Jesus shed His blood on the Cross, He sweat blood at Gethsemane at the moment when He threw Himself into the Father's will, no matter the cost.
And He did it for you and for me.
Have you wrestled in prayer with God because you knew the right thing He was calling you to do would be a painful thing? Is God calling you to swallow your pride and admit you were wrong and apologize? Is God's will calling you to stop doing something you enjoy or start doing something that's not in your nature, and you don't really want to do it? Do you know in your knower that the way to freedom is to forgive someone who wounded you deeply, and your pain makes it seem impossible?
There is nothing wrong with asking the Father to take away the cup of suffering that is represented by the right thing that is also a painful thing. Jesus did. However, the way to freedom and victory is in laying the hard thing at the feet of Jesus and praying as He did, "yet not my will, but yours be done."
The Cross cost Jesus beyond my comprehension in terms of the pain and suffering He endured for me. And yet the outcome was redemption. The outcome was the conquering of sin and death for anyone who will receive the gift and follow Jesus. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16 NIV)
Doing the right thing as defined by God's will may cost pain and sacrifice for us as we follow Jesus. Oh, but the outcome. The victory. The impact for the kingdom of God and for eternity when one of God's children casts themselves into the center of God's will, dies to themselves and makes the sacrifice that turns another to Jesus.
Any time we find ourselves in Gethsemane, praying in anguish for the painful thing to be removed and at the same time seeking to be utterly consecrated to Jesus, we can look to Jesus and know that victory and redemption come on the other side of the Cross. And that can give us great comfort and great hope.