Today’s Reading: Small Catechism: Office of the Keys
What is the Office of the Keys? The Office of the Keys is that special authority which Christ has given to His church on earth to forgive the sins of repentant sinners, but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as long as they do not repent. (Small Catechism: Office of the Keys)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Keys represent power—the ability to go places and to do things. You cannot go into the locked house unless you have the key. You cannot drive the car unless you have the key. The prisoner cannot go free unless he is given the key to his bonds.
Jesus came to die on a cross, thereby taking away the sins of the world. He entered our prison, so that we can enter His Father’s home. He went to the gallows, so that we can go free. Jesus died, so that there is now forgiveness—enough to cover every sin!
Jesus gave the Keys to His Church and He also gave pastors to use the Keys whenever the Church gathers together. What are the Keys? They are power—the power to distribute or withhold the forgiveness of sins.
The first time the Keys are mentioned is in Matthew 16:18-19. First, Jesus blesses Peter and promises that the gates of Hades will not prevail against the Church. Then, He gives the Keys of the Kingdom to Peter and the other apostles. What do these Keys do?
On the one hand, these Keys bind and loose. Sins are like iron chains that bind us and weigh us down. The Law tightens the chains, but the Absolution loosens them, so that they fall off the repentant sinner!
On the other hand, we might say that these Keys open doors. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus speaks of the gates of Hades. Then, in verse 19, He mentions the kingdom of heaven. How do sinners get into the kingdom? The gates must be opened with a key. You get into the kingdom by receiving the forgiveness of sins! Jesus speaks similarly about Baptism in John 3:5. He says that you enter the kingdom of God by being born of water and Spirit. Baptism brings you into the kingdom, because Baptism is an Absolution!
Are you feeling weighed down by sins and outside the kingdom? It is time to go to your pastor. He’s got the Key! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
When ministers lay on their hands, Absolved by Christ the sinner stands; He who by grace the Word believes The purchase of His blood receives. (“‘As Surely as I Live,’ God Said” LSB 614, st.6)
-Pastor Alexander Lange is pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Albany, Oregon.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.