He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:15-19)
Given The Keys
The ministry of Jesus was in its third year and the popularity of the carpenter from Nazareth was waning. John the Baptist had been beheaded. The pressure from the Jewish leaders had increased. Jesus knew His time on earth was quickly drawing to a close. Arriving in the region of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked the disciples what people were saying about Him. Some thought Jesus was John the Baptist risen from the dead or one of the prophets like Elijah or Jeremiah. Jesus then asked who they thought He was. Peter speaks up without hesitation, declaring that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God. The Lord affirms the confession by Peter as a divine revelation and upon the authority of Jesus being the Christ, He would build His church. Jesus tells Peter that he would be given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. The will of the Father granted this authority to be given the keys.
Keys are used for unlocking doors. Until the time of Jesus, the mystery of the ages was hidden from the mind of men. Jesus came to make a way to the Father as He told His disciples Thursday evening when He was betrayed that He was going away to prepare the abiding place for the faithful. Entrance into eternal life was not open to all men. The invitation was given to the world, but only those who obeyed the will of the Father would be granted entrance. Peter would be instrumental in opening the doors of the kingdom of heaven for men to find salvation. That door was secured by the will of the Father and would not be opened until God permitted it.
After the death of Jesus and His resurrection, the Lord gave the commission to the eleven to preach the gospel to the whole world, beginning at Jerusalem. Fifty days after the death of Jesus, the apostles were in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit came upon them and they began preaching the gospel of a risen Christ. Peter stands among the apostles and declares the sacrifice of Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s purpose from the beginning. When the devout Jews were struck by the message of Peter, they pleaded with the apostle to tell them what to do. Peter told them to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins. The tumblers of the divine lock held by the authority of God opened up the way of salvation and three thousand people walked in. Peter was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven and he opened the floodgates of eternal life through the will of the Father.
A few years after the events of Pentecost, Peter is again the center of evangelism when God directs the apostle to go to the house of a Roman centurion in Caesarea named Cornelius. When Peter arrives at the home of Cornelius, the family and some friends are gathered together to listen to the words of Peter. As the apostle speaks, the Holy Spirit comes upon the Gentiles as it did on the day of Pentecost upon the twelve apostles. Peter recognizes the opening of the message of eternal life to the Gentiles and asks what forbids those gathered from being baptized. He commands them to be baptized in the name of Christ and the tumblers of the divine lock open the door of salvation to the Gentiles.
Jesus promised to give Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven. At Pentecost, Peter opened the door for the Jews to be the first recipients of the gospel. When Peter went to Caesarea, he opened the door for the Gentiles to be included in the gospel and now the world knew the will of the Father. Peter was only an instrument used by God to open the doors of eternal life to all men. God used men throughout the history of the Bible to open doors. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, to name a few. John the Baptist had a pivotal role in the kingdom. Peter had his part, and he was given the keys to the kingdom. He did not make the keys or have authority over the keys. The keys were given to him by Jesus Christ and now the door is unlocked for all who will enter in. Salvation is on the other side of the door. It is not locked. The blood of Jesus stains the door. Enter in.