Christmas eve day is a peculiar day. It is a day of sitting around, being edgy, wondering what is in that package. It is a day of expectation. It is a day of hoping that what is in the wrapping is everything you dreamed, and knowing, deep down, that at some level it won’t be.
We know that whatever is in the wrapping is stuff. And we know that stuff disappoints.
The day Jesus died, many people had equally conflicted emotions.
Some of them knew all of his promises. As they watched the body which was wrapped around those words die, they watched their dreams die.
Some of them took the body down from the cross, getting bloody themselves. They wrapped the body, as carefully as ever a lead crystal goblet was wrapped. They laid the body in a cave, as gently as that goblet under a tree. But they had to wonder whether this package was ever going to be opened, whether this bloody mess could ever be … anything…again.
Some of them were pretty sure that everything Jesus had said was a lie. It had to be. If it was true, then they were liars. And that couldn’t be. But there was still this nagging doubt. So they went to Pilate and asked him to put more ribbon on the package and a clear tag. And he did.
That Friday night, like this Christmas eve night, a bunch of people had a hard time sleeping. They weren’t sure whether their lives would be transformed when they woke up, or whether they would be exactly the same.
The common thread between their expectation and ours is in the manger and the grave. Each looked pretty powerless, that baby and that body.
But when the subject is expectation, never underestimate Jesus.