And being in agony … His sweat became like drops of blood falling down to the ground.

~ Luke 22:44, NKJV


"Sunburned blisters," photo by Mr._Jamsey, courtesy iStockphoto

At 10:30 AM, my skin felt as if it were on fire. The sky was overcast. We’d been on the beach for just two hours, but my feet were killing me.

I’d put the 60 spf sunscreen on, applying it liberally. But I had waded into the water with my son for a short while. It must have washed away the protection.

The longer I stayed outside, the worse my legs burned. I had to go in.

Within a day, my feet swelled with pitting edema. They looked like an elephant’s legs. Large blisters overtook the top surfaces of my ankles and feet. Elevating them, placing ice, and doctoring with ointment offered no relief; trying to walk made things worse. And, it took weeks to fully recover from the severe burns.

Three months later I found out why. A medication I had taken caused me to get “sun-poisoning” (as the company rep described). Others had the same reaction, and they had pulled the drug from the market.

Even now, my legs are sensitive to hot and cold extremes. Scars still remain. Hair won’t grow back. And each time I think of it, my mind goes back to Jonah … and to Jesus.

  • Jesus suffered a similar condition as I did – only worse.

Luke tells us that Jesus sweat blood. While many question this phenomenon, it is a known malady called hematidrosis – literally meaning, bloody sweat.

  • Hematidrosis occurs in rare cases of agony.

Aristotle wrote of it before Christ’s birth, and many have documented it even in the last century. (I’ve reviewed those cases elsewhere.)[1]

  • This condition causes changes in the victim’s flesh.

These alterations are important to know if we’re to understand Christ’s Passion.

  • Hematidrosis contributes to dehydration, weakening its victims.

If one understands the whole process of Jesus’ agony, then it’s easy to recognize that He suffered from dehydration. At one point, He even cried: “I thirst!”[2] Hematidrosis certainly played its part in that process.

  • Hematidrosis makes the skin hypersensitive.

Jesus’ body became like one who is sunburned. Just touching Him created anguish. But the abusers did more than pat Him on the back. As tormenting as the scourge normally was, hematidrosis made it far worse for Jesus.

  • Hematidrosis softens the flesh, making it easier to tear.

Scourging was so severe in biblical days that eyewitnesses wrote of people being disemboweled. The lashes cut deep enough to expose the sufferer’s bones. Hematidrosis enabled the whip to cut open Jesus’ body like the sacrifice He was.

  • Hematidrosis disrupts the blood supply, inducing greater blood loss.

People normally hemorrhaged from the scourge. The blood-letting in Jesus’ Passion shortened His life.

Dehydration. Hypersensitive skin. Disrupted flesh. Hemorrhaging wounds.

And the very ones who He promised to give it are the very ones who helped to produce it.

Can you imagine Christ suffering as He did with hypersensitive skin?