Philemon 1:15 ~ "For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever."
The story of Onesimus, the runaway slave, speaks to our redemption with some clarity. Take a moment and read the book of Philemon--there are but 25 verses, and they are rich with grace.
To understand what is happening, the slave, Onesimus, had run away from his master, Philemon. Not only did he run away but he potentially robbed Philemon of precious resources as well. The law was set against Onesimus--and Philemon had every right according to the law of the day to have him punished.
Yet, somewhere along the way--and probably in prison--Onesimus met the Apostle Paul and heard the message of the gospel. And, in the glorious grace of God, the slave became a believer and a brother in Christ. And, in faithfulness to the Lord, Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon to be received with love and mercy, and welcomed back as more than a bondservant--as a brother.
Now... let us take a look at our redemption as we see it illustrated in the story of Onesimus.
First, we all start off as runaway slaves. We were created by God, for God and to love and serve Him with our whole heart. He created us to love us as well, to be God over us and provide all things necessary for life and joy. And in rebellion against Him, mankind has rejected God's right to rule us--though we are His creatures, created by Him and for Him. All we have to do is look back to mankind's rebellion in the Garden of Eden. "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate" (Genesis 3:6).
In our sin we are wildly independent of God, and we want it that way. In Psalm 2:3 we read, "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us." This is our disposition toward God before we are redeemed--we want to be free of Him. But we cannot be, for we must still use His creation to sustain our lives. We breathe His air, eat His food, use His lands, drink His water--and so on. There is not one thing we can do independent of God, but we reject His authority and steal from Him.
But then, in His providential grace, we are encountered by the gospel of Christ. As Onesimus met Paul who shared the gospel with the runaway, so we encounter someone who tells us of Jesus Christ. We have tried to run as far as we could from the Lord and, no matter where we go, His gospel will find us. 2 Timothy 1:9 states, "...who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began."
And now, beloved, we are restored to our Master! His love and grace have paid for our rebellion. And in our restoration to the Lord, we are no longer just His creation--bondservants and nothing else--we are given the identity of brother. Hebrews 2:11 reveals this, "For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers."
The runaway slave is now redeemed, the lost has been found and is restored to the Lord. Is this your testimony? Jesus Christ will receive all who come to Him, all those who believe the gospel and yield themselves to Him. We see in the story of Onesimus the illustration of all who have rebelled against and rejected God--and have been saved by His grace and returned to the Master who made them, forgiven them and welcomed them back in love.
In His Grace,
From the Mountains to the Sea
Every step we take on this journey called life ought to be used for greater understanding. I've lived from the mountains to the sea, and this blog is my personal thoughts and observations with a desire for Biblical understanding. Welcome.