Bible Society of South Africa

Open to all who believe – 9 September 2022

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

19I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

Matthew 16:19GNBOpen in Bible reader

Some months ago, I had the privilege to preach in a beautiful old church in Nieu-Bethesda. That morning, I saw the verger locking the front door with a very big key after the service. It reminded me of what Jesus said to Peter (in the verse above). There are many statues and paintings depicting Peter with the keys to the kingdom of heaven in his hands, and others where Jesus is handing over the keys to Peter. That morning, in Nieu-Bethesda, I thought how dreadful it would be to stand at the door to the kingdom and the next moment, it is locked right before your eyes. Maybe, it was because the key was much bigger than any key I ever saw, but there was a certain finality in the sound of the big key turning in the lock.

Many explanations were given, over many years, about what Jesus meant by what he said to Peter. Most interpreters agree that these words do not mean that Jesus appointed Peter as the gatekeeper, but the confession that Peter made is the true key to the kingdom. The words that Jesus said to Peter can only be seen in perspective, if we read the whole passage. Jesus knew that his time was running short and he was teaching his disciples about what they would need to continue his work. Therefore, one day he asked them who the people think he is, but even more importantly, he wanted to know who they thought he was. To be allowed entrance into the kingdom, one must know the answer to this question.

Peter’s answer is the key that unlocks the door to the kingdom of God: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16, ESV) In our digital society, one needs a password for almost everything in life, from doing your banking to starting your computer every morning. The password to the kingdom is the words that Peter said. Jesus is the big key that unlocks the door to God, a door that was closed by man himself.

Prayer: Thank you Lord that the door into your kingdom is never permanently locked. Thank you that you will open it yourself to everyone who confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Amen

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