Matthew 16:19 – I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (NIV)
Every so often, I'm an observer of a contest to see who in the room has the most keys. Often the winner comes in at 25 or more keys. I say that I'm an observer, because, for years, I've had only three keys on my ring: for the church, the manse, and the car. When I retired as minister of the church last November, I turned in my key to the church. I had the use of the manse for seven months afterwards, but during June, I also had the key to our new house, so I was up to three keys again. When I was giving a key to our new house to my son and daughter, I pointed out, "In a few weeks, I'll be a two-key man. And maybe, someday, I'll be a one-key man!"
But then, if God's promise given in today's Scripture is true, I will never be a one-key man, for I am one of those who believe in Jesus, to whom He has given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. As I was thinking about this, I wondered what those keys might be, and why there might be more than one of them. A key is basically a small, inexpensive thing that enables a person to have entrance or access to something larger and much more valuable. These particular keys of the kingdom belong to God, and only He can give them to whomever He chooses. So, what might they be?
The Bible tells us that, like a locked door, sin separates us from God. Living a good life is not a key that will open the door: all of us have already sinned. The key that opens the door is the sacrifice that Jesus made to pay the penalty for our sin, when He died a cruel death on the cross, the righteous for the unrighteous. But like the two keys required to open a bank safe, that one key by itself is not enough. The other key is our own recognition that only Jesus' righteousness, and not our good works, will open the door to the kingdom of heaven. That key is also the gift of God, because, as Jesus said, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." (John 6:44 NIV)
During the trials and tribulations of this life, what a wonderful hope it is to cling to that those who receive the Spirit of Jesus also receive a place in His eternal kingdom and become sons and daughters of God. I can just imagine how excited God the Father must be when He gets to give the keys of the new house to His sons and daughters:
John 14:2 – In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. (NIV)
Prayer: Lord, give us such a vision of Your eternal glory that our greatest mission in life might be to encourage others to receive the keys to our Father's house. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.