Biblical Allusions in Martin Luther King’s Essays

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Transcript of Biblical Allusions in Martin Luther King’s Essays

  • 1. A Detailed Analysis and Explanation

2. All reference to the Bible are made from the King James version, and may be different in other versions. Please bear this in mind if you are researching the scriptural references. 3. The Bible is divided into two main sections: the OldTestament (from the time of Adam and Eve toMalachi, about 2000 BC) and the New Testament(beginning a few years before Jesus Christs birth andcontinuing until about 100 AD) The Bible is used in many Christian religions, althoughthe interpretations of it vary betweens sects. Note thatMartin Luther King Jr was a Baptist, which would haveaffected his views. In most Christian religions (all that I am aware of), theBible is seen to be the word of God, given through hisprophets 4. In writing about these scriptures and explaining them, Ihave written as though the interpretations are fact, thatthe Bible is an accurate and true account, that Jesus reallylived, etc. Obviously not everyone believes this or agrees with theseinterpretations, however for the purpose of analysing thetexts, it is important to see it the way Martin Luther KingJr would have. As a Baptist minister, he believed thatJesus truly lived, etc. So it makes sense to look at it fromthis perspective, regardless of your own personal views.Please do not be offended by anything said here or take itas preaching that is not the intention at all. 5. Storms of persecution Opposition is often represented by storms, with Jesus as a refuge. Many of Jesus apostles were fishermen, so storms were something that posed problems for them and were dangerous. See Mark 4:37-41 (next slide) for the story of how Jesus calmed the storm. Isaiah 25:4 For thou hast been a strength to the poor, astrength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from thestorm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of theterrible ones is as a storm against the wall. 6. 37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the wavesbeat into the ship, so that it was now full.38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on apillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master,carest thou not that we perish?39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto thesea,Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was agreat calm.40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is itthat ye have no faith?41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another,What manner of man is this, that even the wind and thesea obey him? 7. Could no longer bear such a heavy burden Reference to Jesus carrying the cross. Before he wascrucified, Jesus was forced to walk through thecity, carrying the cross on his back. All thewhile, people stood on the side of the road, spitting onhim and yelling insults, etc. Every time such a temptation appeared BeforeJesus started his ministry, he fasted in the desert for 40days. During this time, the devil appeared three timeswith temptations, all of which Jesus refused. Despitebeing in a weakened state physically, Jesus remainedstrong against the temptations. In referencingthis, MLK equates his suffering with that of Jesus. See Matthew 4 and Luke 4 for details 8. The Masters burden is light The Master is a term often used for Jesus. He taught that those who followed him would be relieved of their burdens if they would let him take them. Through Jesus atonement (dying on the cross), he suffered for the sins and pains of the world, allowing people to be free of them by accepting Jesus into their lives. MLK, despite all his sufferings, found relief through Jesus. Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me,all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will giveyou rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for Iam meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest untoyour souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden islight. Note the capitalisation of Master 9. Unearned suffering is redemptive Jesus crucifixion wasseen as unearned because he never actually committed anycrime. For this reason, his death had the power to atone forthe sins of others his innocent death counteracted thewickedness of others who would accept him. MLK is sayingthat, like Jesus, he has not committed any crimes, but isbeing punished for preaching of love. Isaiah 53:3-5 - He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. This scripture also relates to the previous slide sufferingfor us 10. The cross the cross refers to Jesus cross, on whichhe was hung and died. In the case of MLK, itrepresents the suffering he had to go through as aresult of his beliefs. Again, this reference aims toequate MLKs suffering with that of Jesus, giving theidea that he seeks only for peace, while others whofight against him are evil, trying to prevent the work ofGod from going forward. 11. Stumbling block A stumbling block is a metaphor for anything that gets in the way of following Jesus. MLK uses it to represent the oppression faced by those who followed him, which scared many people and caused them to give up. Peter 2: 6-8 - Wherefore also it is contained in thescripture, Behold, I lay in Sion achief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believethon him shall not be confounded. Unto you thereforewhich believe he is precious: but unto them whichbe disobedient, the stone which thebuilders disallowed, the same is made the head of thecorner, And a stone of stumbling, anda rock of offence, even to them which stumble at theword, being disobedient: whereunto also theywere appointed. 12. Paul was not always Christian. Initially, he was namedSaul, and was Roman. He fought against Christiansand was part of many attacks on them. He was notconverted to Christianity until after Jesus crucifixion(33-34 AD). While travelling on the road to Damascus, Saul saw abright light and heard the voice of Jesus, who told himto stop persecuting his people. The encounter left himblind and unable to eat or drink. God then sent aprophet, Ananias, to heal and baptise Saul, whobecame Paul from then onwards. 13. After his conversion, Pauls life was completely turnedaround, and he spent the rest of his days preaching ofGod and Jesus, converting many to Christianity. Interestingly, aside from the encounter on the road toDamascus, there is no record of Paul ever meetingJesus. All his doctrine came through revelations fromGod. Pauls mission took him from Damascus, throughArabia, Jerusalem, Asia Minor, Macedonia and Italy. He was martyred in Rome around 64 AD. Pauls mission was long, and many times he faced near-death or other suffering because of his preaching. 14. MLK references Galatians 6:17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear inmy body the marks of the Lord Jesus. He, like Paul, is essentially saying that he has sufferedpersecution, hate and temptation just as Jesus did. When Jesus was resurrected, he still had the marksfrom the nails of the cross in his hands, feet and side.These marks represent his suffering, and are whatPaul and MLK are referring to. Once again, MLK asserts that his suffering is just likeJesus. 15. This I remember, especially in this season of giving, forthese people have followed the example and spirit ofChrist Himself. They have given mankind a priceless Giftof Love. Jesus death was a sacrifice he made for everyone. He paidthe price for our sins, making the ultimate sacrifice. Hedid so out of love, and does not expect anything in returnexcept to follow him. Since we do not have to pay for oursins ourselves, this sacrifice is a gift. Those whosuffered, as Christ did, are doing so in the same spiritbecause it is unselfish and out of love. Corinthians 6:20 - For ye are bought with a price:therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, whichare Gods. 16. Forsaken by society Reference to Jesus. Although he wasa Jew, the Jews were the ones who demanded his death. Hewas rejected by his own people. Isaiah 53:3-5 - He is despised and rejected of men; a manof sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as itwere our faces from him; he was despised, andwe esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, andcarried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten ofGod, and afflicted. But he was wounded forour transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: thechastisement of our peace was upon him; and withhis stripes we are healed. MLK equates the situations Corinthians 4:8-10 - We are troubled on every side, yet notdistressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted,but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Alwaysbearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that thelife also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 17. MLK compares the situation of the boys with that ofJesus to portray them as innocent victims ofundeserved hatred. He shows the culprits to be thewhite people, who have put the boys in theirunfortunate situation. This also emphasises that the white treatment ofblacks is not a response to violence, but is fuelled byanger because of their background. Their suffering isuncalled for, and they are simply dealing with it in thebest way they know how. 18. Come to Jesus Jesus invites everyone to come unto him. That is to say that they accept his gospel, and allow it to change their lives and relieve them of their burdens. Through him, they can find peace from their worries Matthew 11:28 - Come unto me, all ye that labour and areheavy laden, and I will give you rest. 19. A voice still cries to every potential Peter, Put up yoursword! - This refers to the Apostle Simon Peter. Afterhe cut off the ear of a guard who tried to takeJesus, Jesus told