42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.
44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Luke 22: 42, 44
When we read passages like this from our western point of view, we miss a lot of the cultural significance behind what happened. When Jesus prayed on the Mount of Olives, it was in the area known as Gethsemane. Gethsemane actually means “olive press.” In the Mark 14:32-40 account of Jesus’ anguish, Jesus asks three times for the Father to take from Him the horror of what He was about to face. Yet each time Jesus ended His prayer with submitting to the Father’s will. In the same way, sacks of crushed olives were put in the olive press and pressed three times, in order to extract every last drop of oil. The olive oil, as it drained, had a brownish-red colour, much like blood. In the same way, Jesus prayed three times to the Father, each time with more anguish, until He was sweating drops of blood. The symbolism of this would not have been lost on an Israelite at that time.
Nowhere do we see so vividly the humanity of Christ. He was not some super hero that felt no pain. As if the physical torture and brutality He was about to face weren’t enough, He faced an emotional heartache that screamed for relief and deliverance. But always He ended His prayer with submission to His Father. If we are tempted to believe Jesus doesn’t “get” what it is to be human, to be in pain, to struggle emotionally and mentally, we need only read this account to see that He not only “gets” it, He experienced it to a degree far greater than we do.
All of this our Lord and Saviour suffered for us, that we might be reconciled to God.