The One who holds the keys
The Bible is a library of books. Every book stands on its own merits. Early in my Christian walk, I was confused about the arrangement of the books in this library. I came to see that these divine books are arranged not in chronological sequence but in logical sequence. I also came to see that every book makes a unique contribution to the revelation of Christ. This revealing of Christ is the goal of the whole Bible. Thus, I know that the final book, Revelation, is the ultimate, great, culminating revealing of the Lord Jesus Christ. The book opens with Jesus suddenly appearing before His old friend, John the Apostle. The first words from the lips of Jesus in this culminating revelation are very important. He introduces Himself to John with these words, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” (Revelation 1:17-18 NASU)
Jesus knows that death will be the great concern of men. He says, “Do not be afraid” and then follows that with the best possible reasons. His first tells us that He is the “first and the last” meaning that He is the answer to all of man’s problems. He is the answer to the first problem, the last problem, and every problem in between. Jesus then reminds us that He is the “Living One” meaning that He is the “Great I Am”, the One who was and is and is to come. He is the Eternal Being. Next, He points out that He did experience death, but is now alive and will be forevermore. His final reason for us to not be afraid is the great declaration that He has “the keys of death and of Hades (Hell)”. Jesus is flatly declaring that He and He alone has control over physical death and spiritual death. He has control over earthly death and eternal death. In Revelation 1:17-18, Jesus introduces Himself in the final great all-encompassing revealing of Himself in this way: I am the answer to your all problems; I am the answer to all your problems forever; I am the answer to your greatest problem!
This Easter, I challenge you to spend some time investigating the claim of Jesus and the Bible that Jesus did in fact die, was buried, and arose. The empty tomb is powerful evidence. First Corinthians 15 is a great place to start. In that great chapter, the Holy Spirit through Paul points out many reliable witnesses to Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Paul also points out that if Christ is not raised from the dead then we are at war with God, our faith is in vain, we are still in our sins, and we are of all men most to be pitied. Paul closes this magnificent chapter with these words, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NASU) I assure you that a sincere, open, honest investigation of the facts will bring you to faith that Christ is exactly who He says He is. If you approach this with an open mind and a real desire to know the truth, you will find it. The One Who Holds the Keys will win your heart.
Ellison is interim pastor at First Baptist of Horatio, Ark. Contact Pastor Ellison at email@example.com)