The 1200-mile return from Rome to Colossae was anything but easy. The road to forgiveness never is. This was a long time for Onesimus to ponder his sinful actions against his gracious master, Philemon.
Even the road to the estate was brutal. Imagine the thoughts of the onlookers when Onesimus walked that long road to the house. The slaves were in the fields. The church members were near the home. They all stopped to see his return. It was a moment for the books—literally.
Maybe Philemon saw Onesimus returning with a few others and walked out to meet them before they entered his estate. It was probably too soon to speak graciously. Philemon had no idea why Onesimus returned. Who knows? This could lead to even more problems for his business.
There was a lot at stake. Imagine how Philemon might have felt when Onesimus appeared to be spared his punishment. Imagine the attitude of the slaves working extra to accommodate Onesimus’ absence. Imagine the talk among the church members when one of their own was hurt. Everyone had some stake in the game. The outcome of this encounter would have a trigger effect.
Even still, Jesus had the most at stake in this situation. Forgiveness cost Him His life. He died for Philemon, Onesimus, and the church meeting at the estate. So, His glory was on the line primarily. How would this display His glory? What would their actions say about the reconciling work of Christ? The stakes were high.
Did you know that when you forgive others, you are more like God than at any other time? God is a forgiving God. And, if you have benefited from His forgiveness, then forgiving others is one way you paint the picture of God’s saving work for the world to see and exalt Him as the glorious Master that He is.