“Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:17b-18)
Have you ever considered the power you have as a key holder? Perhaps you have been given keys to a house, signifying your authority as a homeowner. Perhaps you’ve been given keys to a building or a room at work, indicating the trust invested in you by a superior. Perhaps you’ve even experienced losing your keys and desperately wishing you had them to open the door.
The human race is like a desperate man who lost his keys. We knock, claw, and pound at the door, but it just won’t budge. Our cries grow louder as we turn around and see a formidable enemy charging at us, but there is no escape.
This bleak picture signifies the condition we’re in. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Death is our enemy. Try as we may, we cannot escape its power, nor can we open the door to eternal life.
Enter the good news of Easter. The resurrection of Jesus is a statement given in strongest terms against death and hell. And what is the statement? That death has been conquered!
Not only was death given a deathblow at the resurrection, but also Christ’s nature and character were vindicated. The resurrection proved Christ’s divinity; it proved his power; it proved the finality of the atonement; it proved his prophecies and teaching; and it proved his authority. Death “no longer has dominion over him” (Romans 6:9).
The grave carries some authority. It is a stark reminder of the temporal nature of life. We’ve witnessed loved ones succumb to its call. Its inevitability influences many decisions we make, from purchasing life insurance to going on diets and whatever we can to stay its arrival. Sometimes, death comes unexpectedly. All humans are subject to death. No matter how successful one is, death is expected to get the last laugh.
However, Jesus Christ, by virtue of his resurrection, has all authority in heaven and on earth – even over death! This ultimate authority is pictured by the phrase “I have the keys of Death and Hades” in Revelation 1:18.
The keys signify Christ’s power over the grave. They show us that death has an authority of it now, namely our Lord Jesus. They tell us that there is only One who can open the door to life for us. They display the satisfaction of God the Father handing all authority to his Son, the Living One. The Lord Jesus Christ holds the keys, and we can trust him to have the final victory over death and grant us access to life eternal with God. He is risen!