Then as well as now, all manner of conjecture swirl around people’s minds about who Jesus really is. When Jesus asks the disciples, “who do people say that that the Son of Man is?” Gosh, there is a lot of possibilities within the prophetic vein: John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah. But, when Jesus asks for a personal statement, he gets what he hopes for: You are the Christ.
Jesus’ excitement and joy roll off the page. His response is to offer the “keys to the kingdom.”
As we all know keys are important because they lock and unlock barriers to places we want to be. They keep people in who need to be in. And they serve to keep our stuff safe when we are away.
The possession of keys also conveys responsibility and importance. Not everyone has a key. I think of some of those milestone moments when keys are presented:
- child or young person receives keys to the house.
- young person receives the key to the family vehicle.
- A milestone is reached when it is your car and your house.
- keys given to the place of work in order to open and close the business.
- keys given by neighbors and friends for easy and ready access to their homes.
This is a milestone moment in the life of the Apostles. The confession of Jesus as the Christ means that an additional responsibility is being given. They will make full use of that key upon the Day of Pentecost and beyond.
The key Jesus gives is not a key in our traditional sense. The key is the truth of Jesus. Jesus is the Son of the Father who is sent into the world for the salvation of the world. Jesus is energized by, empowered by, the Holy Spirit.
The key of Jesus is the cross. Jesus’ action on the cross is one that binds or looses people. Jesus teaches us that the way to God and heaven is narrow. It runs through Him. Jesus entrusts the key that brings life and hope to Peter and the Apostles.
Through the cross of Christ, we encounter the truth of Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit. The one true God loves us. Jesus is God incarnate and God dies for us. On account of the cross we have peace with God. We are justified by Christ’s actions. Our sins our forgiven. We have the promise of the abiding presence of Christ and the promise of eternal life.
Peter and the Apostles represent the church. They were sent into the world to proclaim Christ. The over all scope of the mission of the church has not changed. We continue to proclaim Christ crucified. As we provide food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, clothes for the destitute, friendship and companionship for the lonely, we do all of this with the keys of the kingdom in our hands.
Our mission work coincides with the keys, the truth about Jesus. He has come to set us free from what binds us. We, the church, are the vehicle that brings Jesus to our neighbors and community.
All God’s people say…Amen.