(snippets of what I preached last Fall when the Epistle text was Philemon)
God's Holy Law condemns every one of us as we all have turned our backs on God, even as Roman Law would have condemned Onesimus for running away from his master.
Yet, Christ has stepped into the middle of our crime, and interceded for us, just as Paul interceded for Onesimus. Read the letter to Philemon as if Jesus were writing it to the Father on your behalf, saying, “Receive him (or “Receive her) as you would receive Me, Father. Where he or she has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, see that it has been charged to My account. I have paid all for all their debts with My innocent life and bloody death” (cf v.17-18).As Christ paid Paul’s eternal debt, Paul offers to pay the worldly debt of Onesimus – “charge that to my account… I will repay.” Paul desired to put Philemon’s financial books back in order, restoring to him what sin had cost, even as you and I should try to restore whatever physical blessings our sin has taken from others.
The servant is freed from hellish torments to serve his master in love. And the master in love forgives his servant and receives him as a brother. Not just Onesimus and Philemon, but Jesus, your Master, forgives and receives you into His Church in this loving way.