“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever. And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” ~ Revelation 1:17-18 (NIV)


In San Jose, California, there is a set of keys that will let you in to a strange and massive house. It’s called the Winchester Mansion, and there’s nothing like it anywhere. The person responsible for building it was Sarah Winchester, the widow of the man who invented the famous rifle. At a time when workmen earned 50 cents a day, the mansion cost 5 million dollars. The mansion has 160 rooms, 17 chimneys, 13 bathrooms, 47 fireplaces, and 10,000 window panes.

What makes the mansion unique, however, is not just the size. It’s the design. All throughout the house are stairs that lead nowhere, hallways that dead-end, doors that open to brick walls. And here’s why:  not long after her husband’s death, a spiritualist had convinced Mrs. Winchester that as long as she kept adding on to the house, she would never die. And so that’s what she did. With her vast fortune, Sarah Winchester kept construction crews working on her house non-stop for 38 years.

But her keys to the house were not the keys to eternal life.  Sarah Winchester died in 1922.

There’s another set of keys. These keys are different. These keys are in the hand of Jesus. In our place Jesus died. He died for our every sin. Then he rose from death. In doing this he demonstrated who he is. He is death’s Master. Death must answer to him.

It’s true, each of us can still expect our bodies to wear out and die, as Sarah Winchester’s did. But remember. Jesus has the keys. He has unlocked the door of death. He’s pushed it wide open. And through that door lies eternal life.

Risen Lord, you are death’s Master. You hold its keys. It must answer to you. When death touches my life, bring me comfort and joy in who you are. Amen.

Published by Living Hope Church

Living Hope is a WELS Lutheran Church located in Omaha, NE.