Monday, March 12, 2012

Why Does Jesus Need Keys?

You’ve heard it said that Jesus holds the keys. You’ve heard the song. Perhaps you’ve read about it in the Bible. But what does it mean? For that matter, what keys does he hold?

Some of the keys Jesus holds are those of hell and of death. But he holds more than that. The Bible says that he holds the key of David. He opens and no man can shut and shuts and no man can open. Does that mean that David had some special ability? No, I don’t think so.

Let’s think first about what it means to hold the keys. When I was in college, I spent a summer working in fire protection at a large manufacturing facility. One of the tasks that I and some other college students had was to collect fire extinguishers throughout the building and carry them back to the shop for maintenance. Most of the facility was wide open. The workers were trusted to leave most things that didn’t pertain to them alone. If they couldn’t do that, they were walked out the door. But there were a few doors with locks on them. The store, for example, had a lock. The office areas had locks. So as I went about my duties, I would come across a door that I couldn’t open.

Then one day, my boss gave me a key. It was a rather magical key because it would open nearly every door in the building. When I found a locked door, I no longer had to find someone to open it. I could slip the key in the lock, give it a turn, and the door would open. When my fellow college students needed to get through a locked door, they would come to me, rather than looking for someone else.

A key is a symbol of authority. They person who holds the keys has the authority to use them to open or close whatever lock they fit in. So when we think of Jesus holding the keys of hell and death, it is by his authority and his authority along that people die and go to hell. Imagine if you had that power. Would you send your friends to hell? Of course not. So it is with Jesus. His friends will not go to hell.

But what about the key of David? This is a different key. David never had the authority over hell and death. That is a different key. David’s authority was over the Jews. God’s plan for the Jews is not yet complete. The day will come when Jesus will sit upon his father David’s throne. But unlike David, the kingdom of Jesus will last forever.

There are more keys to consider. What about the keys of the kingdom in Matthew 16:19? As before, this is a sign of authority. I think it denotes God plan to use the churches to spread the gospel. Think about how audacious it would be for us to tell people “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” if we were not authorized to do so. And yet, there’s never been anyone that we told that to, who believe, and was not saved. We have the authority to extend the offer of salvation to people. But we also have the responsibility. There is no other plan than for us to share the gospel with the lost world.

The keys are a simple of authority. Jesus holds all the keys.