I carry a lot of keys around: house keys, car keys, church keys. If somebody sees my bulky keychain, they might assume that I’m an important person. That conclusion is questionable, at best, but it is true that we tend to associate keys with authority. If you give the car keys to your teenager, you are giving her the power to go where she wishes. If you give your house key to a friend, you’re trusting him with access to your most prized possessions (or even your most closely guarded secrets). The person who holds keys has some degree of authority over whatever the keys unlock.
In the Book of Revelation, we learn that Jesus carries a set of keys. He doesn’t have a lot of keys, but the keys that He holds are particularly powerful. In Revelation 1, Jesus tells the apostle John that He holds the keys to death and Hades. Hades was the temporary dwelling place of the dead; it was where the dead awaited their final judgment. If keys represent power, then Jesus is saying that He alone has authority over life and death, and He alone is qualified to pronounce judgment. As Peter said in Acts 4:12, “There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Eternal life comes only through Jesus, and power over death is granted only to Him.
What did Jesus do to earn the right the carry the keys of death and of Hades? He rose from the dead. In doing so, He conquered death once and for all. Therefore, He has the power to free other people from death. Because Jesus holds the keys to death and Hades, there is nobody else who can free us from death. Everyone who believes in Him receives eternal life; Jesus can make that promise because of the work He completed when He died for our sins and rose from the grave.
If Jesus has power over life and death, that also places the trials and concerns of our daily lives in perspective. For those who know Jesus, there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love. That means that no matter what happens today or tomorrow, our eternal future is bright and secure. Even as governments rise and fall, as nations go to battle, as economies thrive or falter, and as we face the fears and challenges of everyday life, we can trust that Jesus is firmly in control of the future. For those who know Him, not even death can destroy the glorious future He has for us.
If Jesus rules the Universe, in other words, He can manage our Monday mornings. If He controls life and death, we can trust Him with the details of our lives. While we wait for His return, we can have confidence that He will never leave us, nor will He forget about us. He doesn’t need a bulky keychain with dozens of little keys, because He holds the keys that matter most. He holds the keys to life and death, and to eternal judgment and everlasting life. The only question for us is whether we will trust Him with the keys to our lives? Will we trust Him on a daily basis, knowing that only He is able to lead us to the hopeful and perfect future that we desire? When we are willing to do that, we’ll find that Jesus can be trusted, with every aspect of our lives and every hope we have for the future.