I wanted to share a brief story I read several weeks ago that has deeply impacted me:
“In the 1700s, two young Moravians heard of an island in the West Indies where an atheist British owner had 2000 to 3000 slaves. And the owner had said, ‘No preacher, no clergyman, will ever stay on this island. If he’s ship wrecked we’ll keep him in a separate house until he has to leave, but he’s never going to talk to any of us about God, I’m through with all that nonsense.’ Three thousand slaves from the jungles of Africa brought to an island in the Atlantic and there to live and die without hearing of Christ.
Two young Moravians heard about it and sold themselves to the British planter. As the ship left its pier in the river at Hamburg and was going out into the North Sea carried with the tide, the Moravians had come from Herrenhut to see these two lads off, never to return again, for this wasn’t a four year term, they sold themselves into lifetime slavery. As a member of the slave community they would witness as Christians to the love of God.
The families were there weeping, for they knew they would never see them again. And they wondered why they were going and questioned the wisdom of it. As the boat drifted out the young boys saw the widening gap, and one lad with his arm linked through the arm of his fellow, raised his hand and shouted across the gap the last words that were heard from them, they were these, ‘MAY THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN RECEIVE THE REWARD OFHIS SUFFERING!’”
It’s that last line that particularly gets me. Yes, the fact that these two men were so moved with compassion for these slaves that they would be willing to sell themselves into slavery to reach them with the gospel is powerful. But it was more than that for them.
They were willing to sell themselves into a lifetime of slavery because they were so convinced that Christ is worthy of the worship of every tribe, tongue, and nation. Those young men believed that nothing in this life could compare to seeing Jesus Christ – the sinless one who became sin, the guiltless one who became guilty, the eternal Son of God who was cut off from his Father so that we may never be cut off, the great Savior who died in the place of sinners but is now resurrected and reigning – receive the reward of his suffering.
And in the salvation of these slaves, in the salvation of you and I, in the salvation of all peoples, Christ is receiving his reward – a people, a church, a bride, a chorus of nations who will one day surround his throne and sing “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
What will compel us like nothing else to share the gospel, whether it is on a foreign mission field or with our neighbor next door? What will motivate us like nothing else to give our lives away so that Christ is exalted above all things? It is so simple yet so profound – that Christ may receive the reward of his suffering because he is worthy!