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 shadow of death.
The car door clicks and there is a sudden dread in the pit of your stomach. Quickly you grab at your pockets and fish around in a frantic attempt to find them. But in your heart you already know that when you look back into the car you will see them there, still in the ignition or lying there on the seat where you set them down while you adjusted your list or your Christmas packages. Sure enough, there they are. Now what are you going to do? Make a phone call and wait. There is nothing else you can do.
For such a simple little thing a key excerpts such a profound influence upon our lives. Just think about the last time you had to turn the house upside down looking for them. Or the time you lost one, or had it stolen, or left it in your locked car. How many times have you driven somewhere only to get there and realize you forgot the key, or grabbed the wrong one, only to have to go all the way back home to get it?
There are few feelings worse than being locked out of a place you really want or need to be. Can you imagine if that same feeling as you stand before the gates of heaven? It is a terrifying thought. How many people are searching their whole lives for just that right key that will grant them access? That right knowledge, or attitude, or work that will magically unlock the glorious door. How many, thinking they have it, are panicked time and again thinking that they may have lost it?
But what is the key to heaven? Where do you find it, and can you lose it? Will you be locked out of the one place you really need to be? “Crux Christi clavis Paradisi” proclaimed John of Damascus. The cross of Christ is the key of paradise. The key of David, the scepter of the house of Israel came in the flesh to suffer and die for the sins of all. He came to unlock the doors of heaven once barred by sin, by paying sin’s price – a price of blood. He came to bring life and light to those who sit in darkness wondering if they will be left out. Once we were all of us locked out, without a key, without a hope, but now in this Holy Child born in Bethlehem the door of heaven is open wide – open to all – open forever. And the door to all fears, doubts, and misery is locked firmly behind us.
O 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!