What’s in a name?
Jesus, for instance. What’s in that name?
JESUS: Love, kindness, gentleness, salvation. “You shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
JESUS: Horror, despair, suffering, slavery, torture, captivity. The first British slave ship to reach the Americas was known as The Good Ship Jesus.
King Henry VIII first purchased the 700-ton vessel, then christened Jesus of Lubeck, from Lubeck in Germany. In 1562, Queen Elizabeth agreed to let John Hawkins use the mouldering ship for his excursion.
A deeply religious gentleman, Hawkins insisted that his crew “serve God daily” and “love one another” as he sailed his ship for Africa. In a short time he had gathered up over 300 Africans “partly by sword and partly by other means.” The other means included promising them free land and riches in the new world.
Interesting, that. Hawkins had been granted permission to carry Africans to the Americas with the distinct understanding that it would only be “with their own free consent.” Still, he returned home with a handsome profit and ships laden with ivory, hides, and sugar. Queen Elizabeth was livid. She insisted Hawkins’ new business was absolutely detestable and would certainly “call down vengeance from heaven.” Until she realized how profitable it was, that is. Then she quickly changed her tune and joined Hawkins as a full partner. Soon the new slave ship became known as The Good Ship Jesus.
In 1567, The Good Ship Jesus and five other ships on yet another slaving expedition came up against the Spaniards at St Juan d’Ulloa in New Spain (Mexico). Since the slave trade was still illegal, it was the habit of Spanish colonists to provoke the British ships into a charade of force. After a fair show, they would drop the pretense and buy slaves at a discount. But this time the Spanish attacked the British ships. The Good Ship Jesus, old and cumbersome, sank and the crew was slaughtered. Hawkins escaped with his cousin, Sir Frances Drake.
Hawkins returned to England where he remained in the service of the Queen. In 1588, after gaining distinction for his pivotal role in defeating the Spanish Armada, he was knighted Sir John Hawkins.
As for the British slave trade, the rest is bitter history.
JESUS: Forgivingess. God with us.
“Consenting to slavery is a sacrilegious breach of trust, as offensive in the sight of God as it is derogatory from our own honor.”