And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand on me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:…
Then hell and death, terrible powers as they are, are not left to riot without government. Let us rejoice that nothing in heaven, or earth, or in places under the earth, is left to itself to engender anarchy. Everywhere, serene above the floods, the Lord sitteth King for ever and ever.
I. What is intended by THE POWER OF THESE KEYS here mentioned?
1. A key is first of all used for opening, and hence our Lord can open the gates of death and hell.
2. But a key is also used to shut the door, and even so Jesus will both shut in and shut out, His golden key will shut his people in heaven, as Noah was shut in the ark. Heaven is the place of eternal safety. There the gates shall be fast shut by which their foes could enter, or by which their joys could leave them. But, alas! there is the dark side to this shutting of the gate. It is Christ who with His key shall shut the gates of heaven against unbelievers.
3. By the keys we must further understand here that our Lord rules, for the key is the Oriental metaphor for government. He shall have the key of David: "the government shall be upon His shoulder."
4. One more remark is wanted to complete the explanation of the power of the keys. Our Lord is said to have the keys of death, from which we gather that all the issues of death are at His alone disposal.
II. What is THE KEY OF THIS POWER? Whence did Christ obtain this right to have the keys of hell and death?
1. Doth He not derive it first of all from His Godhead? In the eighteenth verse, He saith, "I am He that liveth," language which only God can use, for while we live, yet it is only with a borrowed life. God saith, "I am, and there is none beside Me," and Jesus being God, claimeth the same self-existence. "I am He that liveth." Now, since Christ is God, He certainly hath power over heaven, and earth, and hell.
2. But the key to this power lies also in our Saviour's conquests. He hath the keys of death and hell because He hath actually conquered both these powers. You know how He met hell in the dreadful onset in the garden; how all the powers of darkness there combined against Him. Grim was the contest, but glorious was the victory, worthy to be sung by angels in eternal chorus.
3. We have one more truth to remember, that Jesus Christ is installed in this high place of power and dignity by the Father Himself, as a reward for what He has done. He was Himself to "divide the spoil with the strong," but the Father had promised to give Him a "portion with the great."
III. THE PRACTICAL BEARING of the whole subject appears to be this — "Fear not."
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: