THE CHRISTMAS GAUNTLET!
In the so called Middle Ages a piece of the knights armour was the gauntlet. This was a leather glove studded with plates of metal. The term “to throw down the gauntlet” was a challenge to an opponent.
Christmas for the Christian is a throwing down of the gauntlet on behalf of the babe born at Bethlehem. Almost the whole of the New Testament, and most especially the Gospel of John, is the gauntlet of the disciple (knight?) of Christ! John 20:31: “These are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”(NRSV)
In that verse three groups are specifically challenged.
The first is the Jewish people. The Apostle John declares to them that the longed for Messiah of their Scriptures (and ours) is none other than the Babe of Bethlehem, the Man of Nazareth, the Crucified One! His name is Jesus. The glove thrown down calls upon the one challenged to check out the Scriptures and see whether or not the accounts of Jesus life fill out the shadows.
The second group are the followers of Islam. Their claim is that God has no son. The Christian’s response is “O yes He has and his name is Jesus!” When the Scriptures call Jesus the Son of God it refers to his unique birth (check out Matthew 1 and Luke 1-2). It highlights the unique relationship between the earthly Jesus and his heavenly Father. In John 10:30 Jesus declares that he and the Father are one, meaning they are of the same essence. Also in response to Philip’s question, Jesus said, “if you see me you see the Father too.” The term “Son of God” points to a description of His authority, His rule. As the Son of God, Jesus dealt with all the obstacles between us and being acceptable to His Heavenly Father. Read the 1st letter of John and stand in awe at what is encompassed by this description of Jesus being the Son of God.
The third group invited to take up the Christmas gauntlet actually includes everyone else. It is a calling upon all people to give a sustained, intelligent appraisal of the Christmas event in the light of Scripture. The thrown down glove asks, ‘Who is there more outstanding, more worthy, more gracious than Jesus who can make a claim to our allegiance?”
But you object by saying Jesus is in the past. You want a modern day, living person to call Lord and Saviour. That is Jesus! According to the Scriptures, three days after his crucifixion Jesus arose from the dead. In doing so he fulfilled what was written. He also put the guarantee of who He is by rising from the dead. Read Romans 1:1-4 and 1 Corinthians 15.
So, every time Christmas comes around God’s gauntlet is thrown down. You can challenge it and accept the consequences, or you can yield and know what is wrapt up in the gift of life.
Ray (the yielded one) Hawkins.