121212 Revelation 3:7

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 December 2012 Written by Pastor Pagels

Text: Revelation 3:7
Theme: Oh, Come, O Key Of David, Come

The latch clicked. My heart sank. I had arrived at University School of Milwaukee early Saturday morning for my part-time job while I was a student at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. I was in such a hurry to go to the office and punch in that I forgot to take the keys out of the ignition. They were only a few feet away from me on the other side of the glass, but I couldn't get to them because all the car doors were locked.

With no other options I called a locksmith who eventually came out and opened the door so I could get my keys and get to work. I was still upset after that, in part because I had been so careless, but probably more because the locksmith's bill was substantially more than the amount of money I made that day.

If there was any good that came out of that experience, if I found a silver lining in what was for me a pretty dark cloud, I did learn a valuable lesson that day, and not just that haste makes waste. Feeling so foolish for not grabbing them, feeling so helpless without them, I was reminded of the important role keys play in our lives. And I am guessing that I am not the only person here who has that kind of story to tell.

If you have ever patted yourself down in a panic, if you have gone through the house rifling through closets and looking under cushions, if you have ever circled around the outside of your house hoping to find an open door or a cracked window, if you have ever uttered the words, "Honey, do you know where I put my keys?" you can relate to my experience. And the poet who penned the ancient hymn, Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel can too. His words form an Advent prayer, a song that Christians have been singing for centuries, a humble request that we make again this evening. Tonight we pray...Oh, Come, O Key Of David, Come

Lots of people have spent lots of hours looking for keys, but the fourth and final verse of Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel suggests a different approach. Instead of going out and searching high and low for this one-of-a-kind key, we are asking the Key of David to come to us. In this case this unconventional strategy works because this particular key is not a what. It's a who.

The Key of David is a descendant of David. The person who possesses the key of David is someone who came from David's royal line. Remember when King David wanted to build a temple for the Lord? Do you remember what he was told? Instead of giving David the go-ahead to build God's house, God said: "The LORD himself will establish a house for you... Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever" (II Samuel 7:11,16).

If you know your Old Testament history, you know that David's royal line didn't last forever. It only lasted for one more generation. After the death of David's son Solomon Israel was divided, and a few generations after that most of the kingdom that David had built was destroyed.

So was God mistaken? Was God's promise to David just wishful thinking? Or did the Lord have something else in mind, someone else from David's family who would sit on his throne, someone who would be born in David's hometown (Bethlehem), someone the people would hail as David's Son as he walked through the streets of David's capital (Jerusalem)?

There is only one person who fits that description. There is only one man who matches all of those criteria. There is only one King whose kingdom will last forever. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of that ancient promise. Jesus is the descendant of David. Jesus is the Key of David, and tonight we are asking him to come. We are asking him to come and "open wide our heavenly home."

It makes sense because keys open things. Keys grant access to the people who possess them. With keys we open our houses and our offices and our cars and our safety deposit boxes. What makes the Key of David unique, what makes this key so precious is that it is the only key in the world that can unlock the gate to heaven.

To illustrate how it works, I want you to look up at the antique key on the screen. That key represents Jesus, the Key of David, the key that opens wide our heavenly home, and each of the three prongs symbolizes a part of his soul saving work.

Looking at the first prong reminds us of Jesus' sinless life. Jesus was born of a woman, just like we were. Jesus was born under the law, just like we were. But unlike us he never broke the law. In James it says that whoever keeps the whole law and stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10). Jesus never stumbled. Not even once. Not a single impure thought. Not one harsh word. Jesus lived a perfect life to remove all of our imperfections.

Jesus lived a perfect life for us, but that is not all he did for us. The middle prong of that key brings to mind the middle cross on Mount Calvary, where Jesus sacrificed himself in our place. The thief on the cross next to his was speaking for the rest of us when he said: "We are punished justly, for we are getting what our sins deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong" (Luke 23:41).

You and I aren't any better than the criminal who made that confession. We deserve to be punished for our sins. We deserve to die for our sins. But Jesus took our punishment. Jesus took our place. The world's only sinless man died on the cross for the sins of the world. As a public declaration that his work was complete, to assure us that our debt has been paid, Jesus said, "It is finished" (John 19:30), but he wasn't finished, at least not yet.

The third prong on that antique key represents what happened three days later. The one who declared: "I hold the keys of death and Hades" (Revelation 1:18) proved it when he rose from the grave. He rose from the dead to demonstrate his power over death. He rose from the grave to declare victory over the devil. Jesus lives! And because he lives, we will live. Because he lives, we will live with him forever.

The Key of David has come. He has opened wide our heavenly home. He has given us the sure and certain hope of eternal life. But our Savior gives us even more gifts, and we don't have to wait until Christmas Day or the Last Day to receive them. Jesus comes to us now. Jesus comes to us today, to guide us and strengthen us, to help us and hear us when we ask him to "make safe the way that leads on high and close the path to misery."

How would you define "misery?" Do you think of it as something a person feels, like when your head is pounding and your body is aching and you say, "I feel miserable?" Or is it more of a disposition? Maybe you know some people who enjoy being miserable, the kind of people who aren't happy unless they are unhappy. Or is misery more of a state of mind? The saying comes to mind: "Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional."

We can describe misery in different ways, but perhaps the best definition is this: Genuine misery comes when person tries to live his/her life apart from God. Real misery is a spiritual sickness that doesn't depend on a person's outward circumstances. The world is filled with people who look confident and successful on the outside, but on the inside they are filled with doubt and fear.

That's a miserable way to go through life, not knowing God's answers to life's big questions: "Who am I?" and "Why am I here?" It's a miserable way to go through life, not knowing what will happen to me when I die. It's a miserable way to go through life, not being able to talk to God or trust that God will make all things, the good things and even not-so-good things, work out for my eternal good.

We can handle the pain. We can deal with unpleasant people. What we can't endure, what no person can endure is life without God, life without meaning, life without hope. And thanks be to God that we don't have to...because the Key of David has come. He hears our prayers. He has answered our prayers. He has permanently closed the path to misery, and now he leads us on the path of peace.

That means no matter what is going on out there in the world, no matter what is happening in your life, even if everything seems to be going from bad to worse, this will never change. Your sins have been forgiven. Your life has purpose and meaning. Your Savior has prepared a special place for you in heaven. And because he has you and I have peace.

Can you remember a time when you were frantically searching for a lost key, and you turned the house upside down trying to find it? Let's say your story had a happy ending, and after searching everywhere it finally turned up. Do you remember how you felt at that moment? Can you remember what you did when you finally found it? Finding that key was a reason to rejoice.

We find ourselves in a similar situation this evening, except for one major difference. Tonight our hearts are filled with joy. Tonight we will sing, "Rejoice! Rejoice!" not because we found a lost key, but because the Key of David has found us. Amen.

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.


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