Simple Child, Tremendous Impact

December 23, 2001

by John K. Bates

Everyone knows the story. On a night that we now celebrate as Christmas Eve, a man and his pregnant wife arrived in the town of Bethlehem, and were forced to find shelter in a stable, because there was no room for them at the inn. The woman, Mary, gave birth to the Child, Jesus, and laid him in a manger. For many, the story ends there after giving the hearer a bit of a warm, fuzzy feeling. Moreover, even for many Christians the story is about Bethlehem, shepherds, and angels declaring “good news of great joy.” This is all true, all good, and all wonderful to remember at this time of the year.

But it is not the entire story. Consider this account, from the book of Revelation:

“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron, and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.”

“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought against his angels. And prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven.” (Rev 12:1-5,7,8)

Try telling that story to the in-laws on Christmas Eve. But it is true nonetheless; the Child is Jesus, and His birth, death and resurrection resulted in far more than even the salvation of the human race. It resulted in the ultimate defeat in Heaven (and eventually, on earth) of Satan and his charges. This, as much as anything else, is why the heavenly host of angels was singing on that holy night so long ago.

I bring this up not as a theology lesson, but to make a point about the Child born so long ago. Obviously, a Child born of God will have spiritual and heavenly consequences. But I would submit that the birth of Jesus Christ is by far the most profound, most earth-shattering, and most far-reaching event to ever occur in the history of humanity.

This is a bold claim. After all, look at the events, ideas, and people that have come along even since Christ’s birth. Great ideas, from the Magna Carta to the 95 Theses to the United States Constitution. Great people of ideas, from Aquinas to Luther, Charlemagne to Jefferson. Great men of intellect, from Newton to Einstein and Galileo to Hubble. Great men of power, from Genghis Khan to Napoleon to Hitler. Great nations: Ancient Rome, the Mongols, China, Japan, imperial Britain, and the United States. Advances in mathematics (such as the invention of the Calculus, still the most powerful mathematical discovery in history) and science (everything from gunpowder to communications to the silicon chip). And so on and so forth. The list of people, nations, events, and ideas clamoring for the title of most significant is endless and formidable.

But no event can compare with the simple birth of the decidedly non-simple Child. For it is this birth that ultimately civilized much of the world, and opened it up to the freedom and democracy that spawned many if not all of the great events noted above. It is the spread of Christianity to the West that has allowed the West to become the engine of prosperity and the beacon of freedom for the world. And it is the West that has - more than any other culture - brought peace, prosperity, and freedom for much of the world.

Some will obviously dispute the reason, but it is very difficult to dispute the fact that overall, the West (the primary area influenced by Christianity) is more prosperous, more liberated, and more peaceful than any other part of the world. Far eastern religions have not brought about peace and prosperity: China, India and even Japan have far less freedom and prosperity than the United States, Canada, or Europe. Africa’s animism has produced countries that are constantly at war with themselves or each other and which are neither prosperous or free. Islam has not been good for humanity: While some Muslim countries are prosperous due to oil, few of their citizens enjoy anything close to the freedom or peace taken for granted in the West. And Communism showed the world the failure of a system devoid of any values; twenty million died in the old Soviet Union trying that experiment, and countless more have perished in the other countries where Communism has been applied.

This is not to say Christians are perfect. Indeed, “Christians” supposedly acting in the name of Christ have done much evil. And some nations are not prosperous and have struggled with basic concepts of peace and liberty. But overall - when one considers all the facts and weighs the overall good deeds verses the bad deeds - the values brought about by that little Child born so long ago produce a quality of life much better and much more at peace than all the other faiths of the world. Even Christian countries that are not wealthy (Mexico, South America) are more prosperous and much more open than their counterparts whose societies evolved from other faiths.

None of this is a surprise, however, if one reads the account of Christmas morning. Not the account of the Baby in the manger, powerful as it is. Rather, it is the account of the power of God defeating the great enemy of God and of mankind - the enemy we call Satan - that portends the peace and prosperity which has come upon humanity since that day. Any Child who can defeat the Prince of Darkness by definition is powerful. It is not a surprise that those people and nations who call and have called Jesus as Lord are blessed far more than those who do not. It has been true since that day 2,000 years ago and it will be true for the next 2,000 years.

The power of God defeated Satan and came to earth to live among men, and the heavenly host of angels rejoiced. And so do we on this holiest of days. Merry Christmas!

--The columnist thanks author, John Elderedge, for his thoughts on the interpretation of Christmas.


John K. Bates is a part-time freelance writer who works in the energy engineering field and lives in the Denver, Colorado area. He enjoys many outdoor pursuits and the company of his family of three cats. His columns can also be seen on

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For more of John's articles, visit his archives.

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