The day after Christmas has got to be one of the most disappointing days in all of history. And I'm not talking about every December 26, but about that day more than two thousand years ago AFTER the day that Jesus was born.
The Scriptures would have us believe that not many would have missed the miracle of the stable, as remote a location as that was. There is a reason that we are given both shepherds and wise men responding - these were the representations of the far extremes of society. Shepherds were often lowly, often disconnected from the doings of the rest of the world by nature of their profession. Yet, they knew. And wise men, well, they were always in the know, often in the highest places in all the world. So the fact that the lowliest and some of the highest were aware of the newborn babe is characteristic of the way that the Bible often indicates an entirety of something - everyone knew.
And, of course, the rumor mill was likely just as strong then as it has always been, so there were not many who knew the whispers of the pregnant "virgin" and would not have been watching her closely. The whispers, as they always had, would spread. Truly, the entire world would know.
According to God's desire, the young Mary and Joseph bestowed on their son the name, Immanuel - God with us. Not only did the world know His birth, they knew His name. They held their breath with expectation, and then...
An actual baby was born. An actual baby was swaddled in clothes. An actual baby cried, then nursed at His mother's breast. Absolutely nothing in all the world changed. This Immanuel? What. a. Disappointment.
You would think that if God is going to come into the world, even if He chooses to come into this obscure place, even if He comes in this quiet way, that something is going to happen. Thirty-some years later when He dies, the earth quakes, the curtain is torn, the dead come out of the ground. But at His birth? Nothing. A star in the sky, a babe in a manger, and life as we know it goes on as it always has.
All this waiting on God, all this longing for Him, and at the very moment when all that waiting was supposed to end, the whole world exhales, only to hold its breath again.
But we should have known. We should have anticipated that God would not do things in the way that we expect, but in the way that He ordains. We should have understood that the developing revelation was now growing up before our very eyes. All that we had unto this point led us to a baby, which was God's plan all along, but in order to see the fullness of His plan, we had to watch that baby develop - the developing revelation led only to a revelation which was developing.
Our God has always been the God of paradoxes.
And so here we are, on this most disappointing of all days, when God has come into the world as know it but things are exactly as we have always known them. Or are they?
For the whisper has become a cry, the anticipation has become a hope, and the Word has become flesh. And before our very eyes, the revelation of God will develop, the Son of Man will become a Son of God. He will live, die, and live again, this Savior of the world, this babe. Immanuel, God with us.