20 December 2008

O Key of David

O Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel, you open and no one can close, you close and no one can / open:*
Come and rescue the prisoners who are in darkness and the sha- / dow of death.

"And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open." (Isaiah 22:22)

"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: 'The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.'" (Revelation 3:7)

[Jesus said,] "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:18-19)

For a person locked in a prison cell or bound in handcuffs, a key is the most welcome sight. That key opens and frees from the bondage and captivity. Since Adam and Eve's fall into sin, we all have been imprisoned by sin and death, even handcuffed by our own sinful desires and actions. Try as we might, we cannot free ourselves from the prison of sin and death, and our sinful thoughts, words and deeds continually bind and chafe. The key--the only key--to set us free from the darkness of sin and the shadow of death is Jesus Christ, the Son of God made flesh. In His Incarnation, Nativity, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension He unlocks our chains of death, opens the prison door of our sin, and frees us to live with Him and His Father and His Holy Spirit for all eternity. And that freedom begins now. It's what we long for through Advent and what we celebrate at Christmas. In fact, our incarnate, crucified and risen Key of David gives His keys of forgiveness and mercy through the ministry of His Church. When our pastor pronounces and proclaims the forgiveness and life of Christ, the Lord Himself opens to us the way of life and closes the prison door on death itself. He unlocks His cross-won forgiveness for us and cuffs the condemnation of the Law. So we pray for Christ to rescue and liberate us from the darkness of our sin and death and all of the misery that it brings. In Jesus Christ the door to life with God is open.

Oh, come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heav’nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel! (LSB 537:5)

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