Was Jesus Depressed?

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Was Jesus depressed? Could he have been suffering from what we today would label clinical depression?

The New Testament record, which reveals many of the events in Jesus' ministry and his response to them, seems to indicate he likely experienced bouts of being depressed.

At least one major Bible translation uses the word "depressed" in relation to Jesus. Our Savior, on the night of his betrayal, became acutely aware of the temptations, trials and suffering that awaited him. As he reflected on what would soon transpire he became deeply sadden and almost overcome with anguish and grief to the point of death.

And He (Jesus) took with Him (in Gethsemane) Peter and the two sons of Zebedee (James and John), and He began to be very melancholy and deeply depressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me" (Matthew 26:37 - 38, HBFV throughout).

The Suffering Servant

Jesus, as the prophet Isaiah prophesied, was familiar with grief and regularly dealt with sorrow. Such emotions would naturally lead to a depressed state of mind.

He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief . . . (Isaiah 53:3 - 4, HBFV throughout).

Jesus also cried many times during his life. He frequently offered tearful petitions asking God to help him overcome his human nature and live a sinless life so that he would not eternally die (the second death).

Who, in the days of His (Jesus') flesh, offered up both prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears to Him Who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because He feared God (Hebrews 5:7, see also John 11:35, Luke 19:41, Matthew 26:37 - 38).

Hatred and Rejection

Jesus, during his ministry, had to deal with an unprecedented amount of rejection, animosity and hatred. An occasional depressed state of mind would not be uncommon for anyone having to deal with the same level of dislike, derision and disrespect that came the Lord's way.

The Jews, for example, began to cultivate their resentment of Christ when his ministry was barely six months old (John 2:13 - 21). Their dislike of him soon blossomed into hatred, not because of any wrong he did to them, but because they simply decided to make him their enemy (John 13:24 - 25).

Not only did the world reject Jesus (John 12:37 - 38) but also those who knew him best. His longtime neighbors and friends in Nazareth became so offended over his success and miracles that they rejected both him and his message (Matthew 13:54 - 58).

Many of the Lord's followers, roughly one year before his crucifixion, immediately left him when he said something they did not like (John 6:43 - 66). Even Jesus' twelve disciples often doubted him (Matthew 14:31, 21:21, 28:17, John 20:24 - 27), with one of them playing a pivotal role in his death (Matthew 26:14 - 15).

Definition and Symptoms

The American Psychiatric Association defines clinical depression as the following.

"Those who suffer from depression experience persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness and lose interest in activities they once enjoyed . . ." (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition).

Those with a depressed state of mind must manifest several symptoms for at least two weeks before being considered having clinical depression. These symptoms include diminished interest in almost all activities, a slowing down of thought, loss of energy, diminished ability to think or concentrate and so on.

"To receive a diagnosis of depression, these symptoms must cause the individual clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning." (ibid.)

Depressed or Depression?

Jesus, based on the above, did not suffer from clinical depression. He possessed God's Spirit without measure (Luke 4:1, John 3:34) which enabled him to have a sound mind and sound judgment (2Timothy 1:7). He was always vitally absorbed in his ministry and in fulfilling God's will (John 5:30, 18:37). Jesus was not anxious about anything since he trusted God to provide all his needs (Matthew 6:25 - 34). He was also able to compartmentalize his life and cope with each day as it came.

Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow shall take care of the things of itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil of that day (Matthew 6:34).

Jesus likely experienced, from time to time, brief periods of being depressed. These periods, a manifestation of his human nature, did not adversely impact his life or his ministry.

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