Emily and I shared depression. My previous church gave me the privilege to teach God’s Word on several occasions, and that’s how Emily and I became friends. She heard one of my sermons about my struggle with depression and wanted to meet up for lunch. We didn’t talk or meet often, but our few interactions were always about our shared struggle.
Our last conversation was many months ago. I knew this call was different. She was rattled. She wanted to know if I thought being on antidepressants was a sign that she lacked faith in God. Honestly, I was almost disgusted by the question. OF COURSE NOT!!! She expressed that her new church frowned upon medication and counseling.
May God have mercy on anyone, any church, or any organization instructing hurting people away from the help of medical professionals, scientific advancement, and licensed professional counselors. People, those things are a part of God's redemptive plan to bring grace to all things. The last thing Emily needed was shame heaped upon her course of recovery.
I pleaded with her to stay on the medication, to talk to her licensed professional counselor, and to embrace all forms of healthy help. Months passed and I never heard from Emily again. It’s a long story but months later…
Emily took her life and rocked mine.
I missed her funeral but attended a smaller gathering of friends to celebrate her life and was struck by the emotions of everyone around me. I was processing her death differently. I felt numb. She came to mind today because we are going to look at death, Jesus' death on the cross, and why we call it Good Friday. The topic of death will no doubt stir in you mixed emotions or maybe complete numbness. So, I’m stopping to pray for you.
Mark 15:22-38 (NET) - "They brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which is translated, 'Place of the Skull'). They offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. Then they crucified him and divided his clothes, throwing dice for them, to decide what each would take. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, “The king of the Jews.” And they crucified two outlaws with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads and saying, 'Aha! You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself and come down from the cross!' In the same way even the chief priests—together with the experts in the law—were mocking him among themselves: 'He saved others, but he cannot save himself! Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross now, that we may see and believe!' Those who were crucified with him also spoke abusively to him. Now when it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. Around three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?' which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' When some of the bystanders heard it they said, 'Listen, he is calling for Elijah!' Then someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, 'Leave him alone! Let’s see if Elijah will come to take him down!' But Jesus cried out with a loud voice and breathed his last. And the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom."
Look what God says about the purpose of the veil in the temple: "The curtain will make a division for you between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place." Exodus 26:33 (NET)
The author of Hebrews explains that the temple set up from the Old Testament shadowed what would come in Jesus as THE temple... "Now the first covenant, in fact, had regulations for worship and its earthly sanctuary. For a tent was prepared, the outer one, which contained the lamp stand, the table, and the presentation of the loaves; this is called the holy place. And after the second curtain there was a tent called the holy of holies. It contained the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered entirely with gold. In this ark were the golden urn containing the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. And above the ark were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Now is not the time to speak of these things in detail. So with these things prepared like this, the priests enter continually into the outer tent as they perform their duties. But only the high priest enters once a year into the inner tent, and not without blood that he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit is making clear that the way into the holy place had not yet appeared as long as the old tabernacle was standing. This was a symbol for the time then present, when gifts and sacrifices were offered that could not perfect the conscience of the worshiper. They served only for matters of food and drink and various washings; they are external regulations imposed until the new order came."
"But now Christ has come as the high priest of the good things to come. He passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, and he entered once for all into the most holy place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. And so he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has promised, since he died to set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant." Hebrews 9:1-15 (NET).
Christ entered with His own blood. He didn’t need the blood of goats and calves; He was the perfect sacrifice. Because of this, He is the mediator of a new covenant.
"Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:19-25 (NIV)
Go on up to the altar of your heart. Have a good ugly cry while Jesus holds you. And then let the truth that he took your _______ to the grave settle in your time of greatest need. Good Friday was good.