Assemblies of God SearchSite GuideStoreContact Us

The day that changed the world

By David B. Crabtree

In December 1941, America’s course and culture were changed by “a day that will live in infamy.” Pearl Harbor reshaped U.S. history, and a darker facet of globalism was revealed in the smoking hulks of once-proud battleships. A terrifying day at Hiroshima in 1945 awakened fears that would haunt the pioneer generations of the nuclear age. Men harnessed the power of unthinkable destruction and demonstrated the will to use it. A single day in Dallas in 1963 defined a generation. The news of the assassination of President Kennedy rocketed around the globe. A day in court in 1973 opened the floodgates for an unending slaughter of the innocents when Roe v. Wade made the mother’s womb the most dangerous place in America. A day we remember as 9/11 changed the way we travel, the way we live, the way we perceive our safety and ourselves.

We could all list pivotal days of our lives that have changed our focus, our families, our faith, and our fortunes for better and for worse. Add all the significance of all of our days, our crowning achievements and darkest moments, our great serendipities and frightful atrocities — add together their impact from east to west, from creation until the last stroke of your heart, and they cannot compare nor even gain hearing when measured against the day that changed everything: the day of Jesus’ birth.

Jesus Christ was born in troubled times to a peasant class of a conquered race. He came into a world dominated by a Roman Empire that sold all for glory and power, only to be crushed under the weight of her foolish purchase. At His birth Christ became a refugee. His childhood was spent in the unsophisticated trappings of village life. He came to a culture stripped of heroes. His homeland was tired from years of skirmish and war. Ethnicity set brutal boundaries. Religious leadership was corrupt and complacent. The Middle East was a caldron ever threatening to boil over.

Not much has changed since then in geopolitical terms. We stand at the precipice of another war. The Middle East becomes increasingly violent. Ethnicity continues to carve widening gaps. Cynicism is the one consistent product of our great and costly deliberative bodies. Knowledge multiplies at a staggering rate but wisdom hides in plain view. Negotiated treaties and accords change nothing as the world moves through one crisis after another.

Yet Jesus’ birth changed everything.

He changed everything because His power did not flow out of vast holdings, terrible armaments or political consensus. His power flowed out of pure love. In that alone, the world can offer nothing to compare. Search the modern motive from the halls of Congress to the inner circles of the United Nations and you won’t find the supreme motive of selfless love. Jesus’ simple statement, “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16), sets Him and His gospel apart from every philosophy, initiative, government or creed.

In his last days, Napoleon struggled to understand the nature of God’s power revealed in Christ. In exile he wrote, “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I have founded empires. Upon force we founded them, and they are gone. Jesus Christ alone has founded His Empire on love, and at this hour millions of men would die for Him whom they have never seen.”

Love is power unequaled by bombs or bullets. Those who encountered Jesus at His birth witnessed the birthing of love, and love changes everything it touches.

Jesus changed everything because He chose to come to earth and be “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). In so doing, He set himself apart from every king and ruler to rise since Adam left the Garden of Eden. Kings and rulers set themselves apart. They fight against all challengers to stand above all rivals. Though Jesus is above all powers and kings, He went against the natural propensity to exclusiveness. Rather, He rushed to embrace the common man. His offer is truly unique among leaders. He offers every man and woman, boy and girl, the gift of intimacy. He came down from the Throne Room of heaven, investing every man with royalty and every child with hope.

I would certainly be impressed should a United States president choose to come and visit me. But what if that president were to say, “I really enjoy being with you. As a matter of fact, I enjoy being here with you so much, I’m relocating so that we can be together every day.” That is what Jesus did when He made His entrance in Bethlehem. Earthly leaders ascend to seize power. Jesus descended to empower the least, the last, the lonely, the losers. Descending power is original with Jesus, and that kind of power changes everything it touches.

Jesus changed everything because He did not institute a new state nor drive a revolution, and yet, of His government there shall be no end (Isaiah 9:7). He did not establish a kingdom with walls and towers and moats and armies. His kingdom is anchored in truth and planted deep within the hearts of ordinary people. His currency is faith. Truly, He stands apart from every leader, revolutionary, president or king. He did not promote himself, but gave all glory to the Father. He did not impose himself, but staked His claim on love alone. He did not preserve himself, but gave himself freely for us all. He came like no other. He lived like no other. He loved like no other. He died like no other. He arose from the dead to blaze a trail beyond this world for everyone who believes in His name to follow. His revolution needs no seat of power here on earth because His kingdom is ruled from heaven. Heaven is the home that He has promised to all who believe in His name.

Jesus changed everything by giving everyone a life-guiding purpose — to know God, to make Him known, and to worship and enjoy Him forever. For thousands of years spent casting about for purpose, mankind has nothing to show. Philosophers are like dull-witted children fishing in rain puddles; there is nothing there to be caught. In Christ we find mission and destiny in serving God and others. We find joy in His presence, strength in His Word, hope in His promises, peace in His providence, meaning in His will, glory in His triumph, and love that grows with every step we take with Him. Because He came down to a Bethlehem manger, we have been given identity and destiny.

Jesus changed everything by opening up a way to God. My heart goes out to prisoners locked into miniaturized environments and dead routines. Prisoners live in a world without a way. They are confined until parole or death. I can only imagine awakening every day to such a closed circle of existence. Such was the case of humankind until Jesus came. Trapped in a box canyon with no way out, history repeated itself until hope died and dreams were forgotten. We would still be living that way if Christ had not come down to man. At Bethlehem, God opened a doorway through which all could escape the hopeless cycle of the imprisoned soul. The door remains open this Christmas season. All who believe in the Bethlehem miracle may enter.

The glory of Christmas is that it yet lives and gives today. Jesus Christ was born to a “no room” world. In Bethlehem, a manger and stable proved to be adequate.

He comes to your heart today asking for more than just a corner, more than just a part. He asks for your all. When you give Him your heart, He will give you new life. When you give Him your burdens, He will give you His peace. When you give Him your trust, He will grant you His promises. When you give Him your life, He will give you forever.

back to top

David B. Crabtree is senior pastor of Calvary Church (Assemblies of God) in Greensboro, N.C.

E-mail your comments to

E-mail this page to a friend.
©1999-2009 General Council of the Assemblies of God