123. The runaway
He ran up the small path, stumbled over stones and scratched his legs on the thorn bushes.
Onesimus (gasping): "I have to get away. I’m fed up. I have no desire to work every day. I’m going to start a new life. Far, far away. But I need to be careful that I don’t get caught."
Runaway slaves were punished terribly. Either they received a mark with a branding iron somewhere on their body, or they were food for wild animals. This thought alone made Onesimus run even more quickly.
His name meant 'useful'. Does this name fit to someone who stole and then took off?
He dreamed about a new life in a foreign country. He wanted to go into hiding in Rome. But who would have thought that in this great city, Onesimus would run into - of all people - a friend of his master?
Paul: "Well, well, you ran away."
Onesimus: "I want something out of life and don‘t just want to be a slave."
Paul: "And? Are you now happy with your new life?"
Onesimus: "Actually, I imagined it would be a lot different. If only I hadn’t run away. And then there’s the issue with the money... I guess I wasn’t really in a bad way."
Paul: "Onesimus, you looked for a new life in the wrong place."
There in Rome Onesimus understood that one can only find new life in Jesus. For He forgives our sin and makes us new. Have you also wished that you could start over again? Jesus will give you new life. He gives it to everyone who confesses his or her sin and who puts their trust in Him.
Onesimus received this new life. But what was the next step?
Paul: "The best thing to do is to return to Philemon, your master."
Onesimus: "Return there?"
Paul: "Don’t worry. I’ll write a letter for you to give to him. He’s my friend. He loves Jesus and will take you back willingly."
And sure enough, Onesimus went back.
Philemon: "You’re here again. We looked all over for you."
Onesimus: "I brought this letter for you."
Philemon: "Dear Philemon, I’m sending Onesimus back. He started a new life with Jesus. If he harmed you in any way, I will pay the price and put things back in order."
Onesimus was accepted back warmly and stayed with Philemon gladly. Through Jesus he had a new life in an old place.
People: Narrator, Onesimus, Paul, Philemon
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