We must emphasise here that although depression has to do with mood disorders, not every bad mood is a mood disorder or clinical depression. Clinical depression disorder is not a brief mood oscillation or feelings of sadness, disappointment and frustrations that we all experience from time to time lasting from a few minutes to a few days. Clinical depression is more serious as it lasts for weeks to months and even years in some cases

Church Members and Depression

Of necessity, pastors, ministers and church leaders occasionally require the advice of Christian psychiatrists to help educate them on the behaviour of some of their church members. In this writer’s pastoral experiences, I found spouses who cannot accept nor give their partners love no matter how loving their spouses were. Eventually, I learnt that such people were suffering from schizophrenia.

Some of them will accuse their spouses of immorality, yet it was only in his or her mind. Some pastors’ wives also will accuse their husbands of horrible sins. We found that some of them had clinical depression. Years ago, an elderly woman in the church was seen weeping along the road by some brethren. When asked later, she was not conscious of it; she denied it; this is a sign of depression.

Peter and Depression

Peter was a leading figure amongst the twelve apostles of the Lamb. He has been described as vocal, emotional, courageous, bold and impetuous (sometimes doing things before thinking) Yet he loved the Lord and was humble. In church history, he was offered the early church’s leadership after the ascension of Christ but humbly declined and surrendered the leadership to James the brother of our lord Jesus in the flesh.

Peter’s period of depressive mood was the time of Jesus’ arrest and death. Jesus was his Lord, Rabbi and friend. When a loved one, a close confidant, or a great and unique mentor is suddenly snatched away from you by an unexpected death, there is only one word to describe your experience, it is DEPRESSION (a depressive mood) You are not yourself; you do and say things that later may make no sense to you.

This is the experience of some of us when that great man of God, Pastor Moses Rahaman Popoola, the General Overseer of the New Testament Christian Mission International, Ilorin Hqtrs, Nigeria, passed away suddenly in January 2022. He was a personal friend of over 47 years a loving mentor and a confidant; the news was difficult to swallow.

At Jesus’ arrest and trial, Peter was tormented with fear, confusion and later depression when he denied Christ thrice to the extent of even cursing and swearing. He was later to weep bitterly like one with bipolar personality disorder. Matt. 26: 74 -75. Soaked in sorrow, Peter hid himself in isolation for days.

Please note Peter’s lapses of faith from fear in Luke 5: 8, 10: and his panic attacks in Matt. 16: 22-23 (he seemed not to know what he was doing): delusion in Matt. 26: Delusion is a false belief usually when there is incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. He argued with Jesus’ affirmation as if he trusted his flesh more than Christ.

Even after Jesus had appeared to them, Peter still decided to go fishing and carry some disciples with him, going back to their former business but without

success. Jesus later prepared hot fish and bread on fire for them to eat at the shore, a gesture of love. John 21: 2-3. The Lord eventually helped in restoring Peter. He made him confess his love thrice to counter his three times denials.

With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, a new Peter, now totally healed and full of the Holy Spirit took the lead with boldness challenging the Jewish leaders for killing the innocent one. Acts 2: 14-36. Later in life, he wrote to encourage brethren to go through experiences similar to his. 1 Peter 4: 12-13.

After a service of 30 years, he laid down his life as a martyr and faithful soldier of the cross who rejoiced because he knew whom he had believed.

How Paul Handled Depression

Paul was one of the greatest apostles of our Lord. He wrote 14 of the 21 New Testament epistles including ‘Hebrews’ of which some of us believe that he was the author. Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 11: 13). He planted many churches in towns and villages during his 40-year-old ministry. He was mocked, whipped, abused, imprisoned and stoned being left for dead. Acts 14: 19.

Deserted by close friends, his was a ministry of hardship although he referred to it as a light affliction. 2 Tim. 4: 14-16. These sufferings were recorded by him in the book of 2 Corinthians, a personal autobiographical letter. This book reveals his sufferings and mental state during the times of duress.

He confessed to being so discouraged that he despaired of life itself. 2 Cor. 1: 8.  Please note that Paul knew the grace of the Lord and received a response of healing from Him. Hence he declared, “We had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead … .” 2 Cor. 1: 9-11; 4: 8-11.

Was Jesus Ever Depressed?

Before the passion of Christ, most Jewish denominations decried Jesus as a false prophet. His family insulted Him calling him a man who was ‘beside Himself’ (mad). Mark 3: 21-22. The Jewish leaders called Him a Samaritan having a devil and one possessed by Be-elzebulb, the prince of demons etc. John 7: 20; 8: 48.

Note that these same family members of Christ included James and Jude who later referred to themselves as slaves (not servants) of Christ Jesus in their New Testament epistles. James 1: 1; Jude 1: 1. A lecturer at Cambridge University, Justin Meggitt, wrote a book on what he called, “The Madness of King Jesus”. These writings continue up to the 19th century with many denying the deity of Christ.

Please note the following about our Lord Jesus Christ: 1. Jesus is a hundred per cent man and a hundred per cent God. He was born a virgin without an earthly father. 2. His blood was both human and that of deity. 3. He became a sin but never a sinner. He committed no iota of sin. 2 Cor. 5: 21.

He suffered physical pains, agony, persecution and affliction but He was never sick nor did He suffer from any disease. He later carried the world’s sin and its consequences. 5. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus declared, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful even unto death”. Matt. 26: 38. Sorrow alone does not constitute clinical depression.

Ways Jesus Faced Crisis

Our Lord Jesus Has been called a man of sorrow acquainted with grief. Is. 53: 3.  He faced the challenges of life because He came as a man’s representative. We look at Him and learn how to face our life crises as follows: 1. When He heard about the murder of His friend and cousin in the flesh, John the Baptist, He sought a quiet place to take His grief to His Father.

When the time of His crucifixion drew near, He went to His prayer garden, the garden of Gethsemane to seek the Father’s face. 3. He chose some close friends to be with Him. 4. He opened His heart to them on what was going on. 5. He asked them to join Him in prayers. 6. He poured His heart out to the Father resting absolutely in Him.

Why Did Jesus Sweat Blood

Jesus sweated blood as reported by Luke the medical practitioner. Luke 22: 44. This was a medical condition called ‘hematidrosis’ (sweating blood) due to agonising groans in prayer. Some people believe that Jesus here was afraid to die. This does not make sense because the Trinity knew from eternity past that man would fall.

Due to God’s love, provision was made for the Son of God to come and die for the sinning world. Jesus Himself spoke on this; He declared, “Now is my soul troubled and what shall I say? Father save me from this hour? But for this cause came I UNTO THIS HOUR”. John 12: 27. Jesus also knew perfectly that He would rise again from the dead; so fear is out of the question.

The Redemptive Bloody Sweat

The bloody sweat of Jesus was a redemptive blood shed for us. In the Garden of Eden, the curse on Adam to sweat before obtaining his daily bread was nullified by Jesus in another garden, the garden of Gethsemane. We no longer belong to the first Adam but the second Adam, Jesus Christ who removed that curse from us by His sweat so that we need not sweat to eat; we do work but sweating is a curse.

Freedom From Depression

By His bloody sweat in the garden and His crown of thorns at Calvary, Jesus had also freed us from anxiety, fears, clinical depression disorder and all forms of worries, mental illness even chronic schizophrenia. The blood of Jesus that fell to the ground at Gethsemane, at the whipping post and at Calvary when He was nailed to the cross was to bless the ground that was cursed by God in the Edenic garden for the sake of man. We can now claim that anywhere we go, the ground under us is blessed including where we work and live.

Sunday School Commentary By Elder Samuel Omole. May 19, 2024