Good Monday Morning to this week 13 of 2019
On this day the 25th of March 1807 the Slave Trade Act 1807, officially An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, was implemented, prohibiting the slave trade in the British Empire.
The Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was formed by a group of Evangelical English Protestants allied with Quakers, to unite in their shared opposition to slavery and the slave trade. The Quakers had long viewed slavery as immoral, a blight upon humanity. By 1807 the abolitionist groups had a very sizable fraction of like-minded members in the British Parliament. At their height, they controlled 35–40 seats. Known as the “Saints”, the alliance was led by the best known of the anti-slave trade campaigners, William Wilberforce, who had taken on the cause of abolition after having read of more and more the evidence . These dedicated Parliamentarians often saw their personal battle against slavery as a divinely ordained crusade. On Sunday, 28 October 1787, Wilberforce wrote in his diary: “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners. After a debate lasting ten hours, the House agreed to the second reading of the bill to abolish the Atlantic slave trade by an overwhelming 283 votes for to 16. The Bill received Royal Assent on 25 March 1807.
New Testament writers lived in the Roman Empire and likewise adopted widespread attitudes about slaves. Some New Testament passages rely on negative stereotypes, such as slaves being lazy. Other passages use slavery as a metaphor for faithfulness. Paul calls himself a “slave of Jesus Christ” as a sign of devotion. Jesus compares the impossible task of a slave serving two masters to followers who must choose between wealth and God. Several passages address slaves directly, which is evidence that they were attracted to the early Jesus movement. Christian slaves navigated the complex world of enslavement with their new faith.
The most famous slave in the New Testament epistles is Onesimus, the slave of Philemon. In a short letter, Paul implores Philemon to receive Onesimus as “a beloved brother”
Another very striking story is when Jesus heals an ill slave of a Roman centurion. At Jesus’ arrest, one of his followers cuts off the ear of the slave of the high priest. Though Jesus censures this act of violence in all four Gospels, only one records Jesus healing the slave!. The incident underscores how easily slaves could become victims of free people’s anger.
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible explains Luke 22.51 as follows:
Jesus answered and said to Peter or the other listeners: Suffer ye thus far;
to Peter to stop his hand, to proceed no further, but put up his sword; and so the Arabic version reads, “refrain thyself”; and to the multitude to be easy, and not revenge the affront that was given them: and in order to pacify them, “he went to the wounded man”, as the Persic version inserts and he touched his ear and healed him; which shows, that though the human nature of Christ was in a very low condition, yet he still retained the power of doing miracles; and also his great humanity, by which example be confirmed his precept of doing good to enemies; and likewise hereby gave full proof of his willingness to be apprehended by them; for otherwise, he that wrought such a miracle as this, could easily have delivered himself out of their hands; and one would have thought this would have put a stop to them, and have convinced them of the truth of his being a divine person, and the Messiah.
J. Vaughan, M. A Jesus wrought a miracle to repair the mischief which Peter had done. Thus, by one act, in one moment, Christ made Himself the repairer of the breach. The evil, which His follower had done, was canceled; and, through the kind interposition of a special act, the injured man was none the worse — but rather the better — and the harm, of which a Christian had been the occasion, was neutralized by his Master. Now, may we take it as one of the wonderful provisions of our transformation — as one of the blessings into which we have been admitted — that the Christ, whom we now call ours, will prevent the consequences of what we too have done in days of blindness — that He will restore what we destroyed. He will rectify the ill — that He will “touch” with His own virtue the afflicted part, and that He will “heal” all that “wound.”
This could be a prayer for all those in suffering this week. Going from Mozambique to Malawi or Zimbabwe having lost all and wondering how much more they are to suffer.
I am also reminded to pray those in modern slavery. The estimated 40.3 million people in modern slavery around the world. The children, people in forced labor, forced marriages and all those in forced sexual exploitation.
Let us pray that Jesus would answer them: Suffer you this far. That he then touch their ears (situations, injustices and souls) and heal them!
Wishing a week of healing!