Recently, I stayed in Israel with my wife. After arrival in Capernaum, we visited the archaeological diggings, including the house of the Apostle Peter. Right at the entrance, we noticed a gigantic statue. It symbolized Peter, standing on a rock, the bishop’s staff in his left hand and a large key in his right hand, a large fish lying at his feet. The rock, the bishop’s staff and the key have their origin in the words of Jesus, which He spoke to the fisherman Peter: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church…And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven…” (Matthew 16:18, 19).
Based on these statements, traditions and rituals emerged over the centuries which hardly resembled the intentions of Jesus. This human concoction finally led to the Roman Catholic papacy, where Peter is quasi the doorkeeper of heaven. In the belief of the populace, Peter must also serve as the ruler of the weather. And fishermen wish each other, “Hail Peter!” for a good catch of fish. Thus, legends, human invention and popular belief mix with biblical truth.
It is therefore of great importance that we are informed only by the Word of God, and ask ourselves seriously what Jesus really wanted to say with the words: “I will give thee the keys of heaven.” Doubtless, the possession of this key is a sign of power and authority, and Peter uses it to reveal the way to the kingdom of heaven. In his speech on the day of Pentecost, he opened for Israel the door to saving faith and entrance into the Church (Acts 2:38-42). Later, in the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:34-38), he also opened this door for the Gentiles. With what authority and gift of grace Peter acted is not only revealed by his speeches, but also in his epistles. In his second epistle, he confirms that for us who belong to Jesus, the entrance to eternal glory has been opened: “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11). We have received this entrance through Jesus Christ. He has saved us and called us to be His children. In the preceding verse, Peter reveals the key to us: “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure, for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.”
However, it can happen that by our negligence or lack of faith, we mislay the key. Not long ago, this happened to me: I had mislaid my key, and for some time, I could not find it. Has this also happened to you? Then you know how one feels! But it is much worse if we lose the spiritual key, when we no longer find access to our Lord Jesus Christ. That happens very quickly when sin creeps into our life, when lack of faith and lack of peace rules our soul. Not long ago, I wanted to enter my hotel room, but the key card would no longer open the door. The key had become invalid, and I had to have it corrected at the reception desk before I could use it.
Do test your access to our Lord Jesus. Do you still use the valid key to have fellowship with Him, or has sin crept in? Hebrews 10:22 describes very clearly how we can approach Him: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” And Romans 5:1-2 describes the authentic key: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”