The book of Philemon is just one short chapter in the Bible, but one that carries a potent message. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to a fellow believer named Philemon, who was a wealthy man living in Colossae, who owned slaves and who used his large house for church meetings (v2). Somehow, probably through Paul, Philemon was introduced to the saving gospel of Christ and that’s what made this connection between them so rich.
Paul wrote this letter while in jail on behalf of one of Philemon’s slaves who ran away. His name was Onesimus. Onesimus had become a follower of Jesus through the ministry of Paul as well, and was very valuable to Paul while he was in jail. Paul wrote this letter to encourage Philemon to accept Onesimus back, not as a slave but as a friend and as a follower of Jesus too.
Yesterday was Palm Sunday. Today is the beginning of what we refer to as Holy Week. It’s here and now that we focus our attention to that Upper Room and Jesus instituting the Lord’s Supper. Then we watch the arrest in a place called Gethsemane and the horrific mockery of a trial, condemning innocent Jesus. We hear the crowd shouting, “Crucify Him,” as He stands before Pilate. We walk with Him out to Golgotha and see Him die.
As I’ve told many before, don’t take Him off that cross prematurely. Don’t sugarcoat the crucifixion to make yourself feel better. You’ll never experience and appreciate the glorious resurrection of Jesus from the dead, until you fully comprehend that He died for all sins, yours and mine.
Here’s the verse that reminded me of all of that today. As Paul wrote to Philemon, he encouraged him to welcome Onesimus back into relationship with him as he would do with Paul himself. Paul told Philemon that if Onesimus owed him anything, that he could charge it to Paul’s account and Paul would pay it all back in full – though I’m not sure where a prisoner would ever get money. Then Paul tells Philemon…
“But don’t forget that you owe me your life.” —Philemon 19
That wasn’t a threat. That wasn’t a bullying remark. That was truth. As Paul introduced Philemon to the Savior of the world, Philemon needed to know that he should be truly thankful to Paul for telling him about Jesus. Philemon needed to know that being saved made him very wealthy, not his earthly riches. And he owed his life to the one who introduced him to the Savior.
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today
Who do you owe your life to because they introduced you to Jesus? Maybe your parents? A Sunday School teacher? A Pastor? A friend? The greatest life changing gift you can ever give to anyone is Jesus. This week invite a friend to Easter services with you. Make a friend… Be a friend… Bring a friend to Christ!
Father, thank you for saving me! In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
—Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen