Death can be scary. It is the final enemy. Yet there is one who is Lord over it. Revelation 1:18 says,
and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. – Revelation 1:18
In this verse we see four realities about Jesus. First,
1. He is God.
The first part of this phrase is better attached to the previous verse. He is the first and the last “and the living one”. And just as “the first and the last” is a designation of Yahweh, the God of Israel, so is “the living one” such a designation. Jesus is the first and the last. He is the living one. He is God. Secondly,
2. He died.
He says, “I died”. Now, in the mystery of who God is, three persons in one, and one of those persons, the Son, having both divine and human nature, we are to understand this as the Son, in His human nature, dying. Now, what was that for? It was in order that He may die on the cross to pay the penalty of the sins that people like we deserve. He actually, truly died, for sinners like us. And all who believe in Him will not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). So, Jesus is God, He died, and
3. He is alive forevermore.
“And behold, I am alive forevermore”. Jesus didn’t remain in the grave, having been defeated. No, no one takes His life from Him, but He lays it down on His own accord, and picks it up again. He showed Himself to be victorious over sin by being raised. For His resurrection is proof that His sacrifice for our sins was worthy. And He showed Himself to be victorious over death by rising again. Death could not beat Him. And He is alive forevermore. He’s God, He died, He’s alive forevermore, and
4. He has authority over eternal life and death.
Having died and now living forevermore, Jesus says, “and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” Keys here are a symbol of authority. He has been given the keys of Death and Hades. It’s debated whether “Hades” here is referring to the abode of departed souls or whether it’s just a metaphor for the grave, but either way, Jesus is the Lord of it all. He decides matters of eternal life and death.
As one preacher put it, “He’s got away! He’s got away! And He’s got the keys!”
If you don’t worship this Jesus, your soul is in peril. The One you reject is very God, the beginning and the end, the One who lives, who died, and lives forevermore. And He holds the keys to death and Hades. If you put your trust in Him, then all your sins will be forgiven, and you will have eternal life and joy in His presence forever. If you don’t, He will grant you the punishment you chose over Him.
This is the Jesus whom we worship. And these four realities we see packed in this one verse should cause our hearts to bow down even lower, in reverence to Him, to the praise of His magnificent glory.