The two men sat in the garden, not speaking a word. The night air was crisp and refreshing; a welcomed relief from the hot days endured this time of year. It was a place of tranquility and fellowship, yet the two men remained silent though much discussion was needed. Grave matters of importance occupied their thoughts. Much was at stake; the time had arrived in which actions and deeds could influence the very foundations of Heaven and Hell. However, such topics were left unspoken as every demon and angel listened with apprehension from concealed places amongst the trees and foliage.
The two men were so alike in appearance that many often mistook them for brothers. However, that is where the similarities ended. No two souls could have been more dissimilar from each other than these two men. The first man exuded a presence that commanded all who knew him. He captivated crowds and held the passion of the people with his eloquent words and message of hope and acceptance. While the first man illuminated his presence grandly, the second man lived a life of insignificance. He was the invisible face in the crowd, and the voice dismissed and unheard. Astounded was he, when the first man had come to him and beseeched him to follow him and devote his life to God.
Finally, the first man rose and said, "Have you made your decision?"
The second man remained silent, nervously plucking the grass from out the ground.
The first man sighed and said, "When God blesses us with lands that flow with milk and honey, we rejoice and resound praises to Him. When we implore to the heavenly Father and He answers, we recognize in our heart the one true God watches over us like a good shepherd. So fear not when God calls you to do His works, for He will not forsake you. He has bestowed this great honor upon you. Your faith shall reap heavenly riches so vast even the angels gasp in awe in its presence. I have seen it. The Father has revealed such visions before me."
The second man looked up towards the firmament that held the stars in the sky and quietly said, "But I am so afraid."
The first man knelt next to the second man and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "Yes, amidst a calling from God, many trials and tribulations can be anticipated. Few receive such a holy calling, and fewer yet have the conviction to acknowledge it. We answer such petitions because our faith is sound. "
"But why does doubt consume me. It binds my limbs like chains and clouds my vision like smoke," said the second man.
The first man smiled, "That is the work of Satan! See, even the beasts from the darkest reaches of Hell know of this convergence and conspire against us! Doubt is the weapon Satan favors to wield against the true believer. He tests our faith and tempts our flesh to turn us away from God. However, it is by our faith that gives us dominion over these foul creatures. Do not forget Peter. With his faith strong and pure he walked upon the stormy waters of the sea. It was not until his faith faltered did he begin to descend beneath the ocean's surface towards death. Still, was there not a hand offered to him to lift him up to glory? So shall it be for you."
The first man lifted himself up from his knees and stood before the second man and spoke with a somber tone, "You know that I have only spoken the truth before you. God has bestowed this holy mission unto me, a calling that will change the very existence of the nature of man. My ministry has brought many great men before me, but few were deemed worthy to be embraced into my flock. You were one of the selected few. However, there is no need to mince words and shy away from the truth that amongst those great men, you were the lesser of them all. Yes, you are the weak one among my disciples, but I hold fast onto something the others cannot see. Tonight, God has asked, "Who amongst you is righteous and will take upon themselves my word?" How will you answer his calling?
The second man stood and faced the first man. "I have made my decision."
"Speak and let it be known."
The second man hesitated, his attention now focused on the distant shadows. He slowly leaned closer and whispered into the first man's ear. "There, just beyond the treeline. Other eyes look upon us? We are not alone."
"Yes, I know."
The second man nodded and bowed his head. "Very well, let thy will be done."
The first man smiled and said, "What you do this very day will resonate until the end of time. Blessed is the man who is persecuted for righteousness's sake, for he shall inherit the kingdom of heaven."
He then gently placed his hands on the sides of the second man's face and ever so softly blessed him with a single kiss upon his forehead.
The signal had been given.
A dozen men burst from the shadows they hid within and charged towards the two men. With swords drawn, they surrounded the second man. The first man quickly withdrew under the cover of darkness and branches of the Olive trees that surrounded him. He watched as heels from boots, fists, and metal from the hilts of their weapons savagely beat the poor man without reprieve or mercy.
The first man remained hidden until the guards of Sanhedrin had taken custody of the second man. Shackled and beaten, he was carried out of the gardens and into the night. Upon the first light of day, he would be brought before the council and charged with heresy against the laws of his people.
The first man contemplated, "In addition to our similarities in likeness, the harsh beatings, especially those upon his face will make him indistinguishable from me."
He knelt in prayer and spoke, "It has almost all come to pass. So it is written. So it is done." With one final word, he rose and exited from the opposite end of the Gardens of Gethsemane.
The large beam of wood dangled in the air from strong ropes. It suddenly dropped into place upon the pole that stood tall and menacing. It slammed hard with a loud thud. The impact sent excruciating stabs of pain into the nailed hands of Judas Iscariot. Had it not been for the ropes that bound his body to the wooden crucifix, the impact of falling would have ripped his hands through the large spikes that pierced the flesh between his two forearm bones below his wrists.
Once the beam was secured and locked into the pole's upper portion, his left foot was placed over the top of the right one and the final long spike was hammered through the feet until its point was buried deep within the wood.
Judas was quickly finding it harder to breathe. The weight of his body placed on his outstretched arms pulled at his chest muscles and compressed his lungs. To take in air, he would draw himself up by his arms, pulling and tearing at his pierced flesh and putting his full weight on his impaled feet. Fatigue would soon overcome him him and he would no longer be capable of lifting himself; asphyxiation would subdue him, and he would die within moments.
He bore a crown of blasphemy made of thorns. In a mocking jest of his "coronation, the Roman guards had declared him as King of the Jews. With blood still flowing, he turned his head upwards to scan the crowd assembled below him.
He made eye contact with a man concealed in a cloak and shawl. They stared at one another deeply. The hope that the Romans had so heartlessly beat out of him returned in a great surge of joy. Salvation had arrived! The Son of God had come to smite his enemies, and rescue His servant!
They continued to look at each other, but it was the cloaked man who broke eye contact. Without looking back, he turned to leave and Judas watched as his Savior made his way through the crowd in the direction that would lead him out of the city. Despair now wounded his soul as the nails had pierced his flesh.
One final time, Judas painfully placed his weight on his bloodied feet, lifted his chest as far as he could, and took a deep breath and bellowed with all his might, "Lord, why hath thou forsaken me!"
With a crack of thunder, Judas Iscariot gave up the ghost and felt no more pain.
Jesus walked down the path, deep in thought. Much still needed to be done and left no time to rejoice. He inhaled deeply and could sense his deification more intensely now. His godhood was becoming one with his physical form; a merging never thought possible.
His thoughts were disrupted by the slow clapping of hands from behind him. He stopped and turned to see a dark figure mockingly applauding him from top of a large rock by the dusty pathway. The creature was beautiful but not from a beauty that was merely pleasing to the eye. His beauty was comparable to the awe of witnessing a destructive storm approaching. Every move it made was like flowing honey, accentuated by the delicate sharpness of a menacing predator. Everything about the creature was both mesmerizing and terrifying.
It was squatted on top of a large boulder by the trees. No, it had more the appearance of "perching" than any other form of stationary rest performed by common man. Its abnormally long legs betrayed any attempts to hide that there was no man underneath the thick robes it wore. Its applauds slowly came to a stop.
Jesus narrowed his eyes and acknowledged the stranger, "Morning Star."
It spoke, "Well played, Son of Man. I was not expecting that. You surprise me. That is quite an achievement and an unexpected gift you bestow upon this dark and jaded heart. I bow my head in deference to you."
With a capacious grin, the creature performed an exaggerated bow, one hand upon his chest and the other raised high in the air.
It grew near, "I must say, you navigate on this arena of games with such tact and strategy, one might say your skill as an opponent is equal to that of even a serpent in matters such as these. I foresee that they will be speaking of this day for countless generations. I would even go so far as to presume that the world has been forever altered today, never to be the same again. Am I right, Son of Man?"
Jesus looked upon the creature impatiently, "Why are you here? What business do you have here, Wicked One?"
It smiled and twirled one of its long fingers in the air, "Oh, a little of this and a little of that. Merely small matters of inconvenience, such as the collection of a debt still owed to me."
Jesus' lips thinned, "What madness do you speak of? No debt do you hold over me. You presume too much of yourself, Serpent of Old!"
It hunched down and the light of the afternoon seemed to dim. "I 'presume' too much? Do not forget whom you are speaking to, little God! It was I who waged war upon at the gates of Heaven and soaked the celestial battlefield with angelic blood! I was the one who interceded in God's divine purpose and exiled the primates from their undeserved paradise! I command the four corners of my kingdom while the heavenly Father locks himself in His throne room and hides from His creation."
Jesus approached the being, almost nose to nose and said, "And it was I who took hold of you by your throat and flung your squirming body into the great abyss that separates the realm of Heaven from creation!"
The creature paused, clenching its jaw and tightening its fists. The two powerful beings continued to stare at one another, neither one relenting to the other.
Jesus continued, "Oh, how far have you fallen? How lessened your light is now? It is but a flicker to the once brilliant luminescence you formerly possessed. There was a season when you were the mightiest throughout all of Creation, now look at you! A mere ruffian, posturing before all, wagging your tongue to-and-fro with tales of self-proclaimed prominence. Your tricks and games leave much to be desired, fool, and quite frankly bore me. I take leave of you now to allow you to return to whatever it is that you do these days to pass the time."
Jesus turned to leave, and the entity seethed with rage. It quickly recomposed itself and allowed the previous grin to return to its face, "Hah, your departure is suspiciously swift and premature! Is it because you have no more disciples to serve as currency for payment of your dues? Ha, ha, ha! Be that as it may, still the matter of reconciling what is owed to me remains."
Jesus stopped and sighed. Without turning around, he said, "My patience is running thin, very thin, demon. Speak! What imaginary services have you conjured in your head that you now beg for compensation?"
It leaned closer; its neck outstretched abnormally long, "I speak of levy and tariff. Do you not accept it to be just to recompense the one who allowed you to reside freely within his realm? For thirty-three years, you dwelt in my lands and ate from my trees and drank from my rivers. I stood over your small form and easily could have plucked your still beating heart from out your body and devoured it before your mother's cord could be cut from your newly birthed flesh. But I did not. You know as well as I do, for you to entirely free yourself from this plane of flesh and skin, no imbalance can remain. It is law."
"Do not quote the law to me, Fallen Angel!" Jesus turned quickly to face the beast once again. The creature did not back down. Exhaling breath in exasperation, Jesus angrily said: "What is your price?"
The creature's demeanor became serious and slowly lifted his hand and pointed in the direction towards the city Jesus had recently departed. It gestured towards the barely visible crucifix that stood in the distance.
"I want him."
Rage burned in Jesus' eyes. "You have crossed the line, Devil! I am the son of God, The King of Kings, and Lord of Lords! You tread on dangerous grounds in mocking me! Horrors unimaginable will be brought down on you for defiling my role as Savior and desecrating a soul belonging to the shepherd of man! I am the Alpha and the Omega! I am the Beginning and the End! I am the Lamb of God, the Resurrection, the Truth, and the Light! I am the Word of God! I am the mighty Sword of God's wrath!"
"Hah, hah, hah. Now who is it that presumes too much of themselves, oh divine Son of God whose list of titles are so numerous that it stretches past his feet. From one child of God to another, I would offer you my counsel and speak of tales of the dangers of pride and inflated egos, but I know not how to speak such words without it sounding disingenuous. But I will say this; be careful of such things. They have a tendency to entangle the feet you walk upon, and you will fall."
The dark creature then approached Jesus."Have you not ever questioned why the heavenly Father did not just blink me out of existence upon the first demonstrations of dissent? Have you not pondered why every act of blasphemy and sacrilege I perform goes unanswered? Why would the Creator of everything great and small instantly not obliterate this unclean spirit from His sight? The truth is, He did command my obliteration from existence, only to learn that such deeds are within his capability of power. It is that same power that you now take comfort in, believing it far exceeds my own. I guarantee you, it does not!"
Very few times in his life, was Jesus unable to see and comprehend the grand design of reality. It flowed like a mighty river with endless possibilities entering and exiting. It was a perception easily accessed by a God, but on this matter, he was blind. In the briefest of moments, Jesus was concerned.
Jesus asked, "For what reason do you desire him, why him? There is nothing exceptional or extraordinary about him."
"It is no secret to you and I that war is coming. All celestial beings and rival gods know of it. The immovable objects and the unstoppable forces will clash on that day. Oh, what a magnificent day that will be? Before that comes to pass, I require one to fulfill my prophecies as yours were fulfilled. Who is more fitting to be the one who will rise out of the sea to herald the woes of the end of days? For who will carry more resentment for you than him?"
"As prophesied, he will have seven heads and upon his heads there will be ten horns, and I will bestow upon his horns ten crowns, each with a name of blasphemy upon them! Heh, heh, heh. With much gratitude, your interventions have already located the first crown for me - a crown of thorns. I am much appreciative of that, Son of Man."
"He will be a beast like unto a leopard, with feet as the foot of a bear, and a mouth as the mouth of a lion. I will grant him a throne of absolute authority with all the power of the Dragon upon him."
"My beast will captivate the world, and mankind will worship the dragon that gave dominion unto the beast: and they will worship the beast and proclaim, "Who is like unto the beast? Who can make war with him?" None! However, I will give him authority to make war with the saints of every god, and he will overcome them. He will possess limitless power over all nations and tongues. All that dwell upon the Earth shall worship him."
"To mankind, I promise this: the small and great, rich and poor, and the free; All will take my mark! A mark made of numbers, chosen to be equivalent to the number of lashes inflicted upon my back. Punishment for disobedience from my heavenly Father. For all who have wisdom, let it be understood, cut into the flesh of the right hand and upon the forehead will be that number - Six hundred, three-score, and six!"
Jesus stared into the deep eyes of the creature intently. He reflected on how such beauty could be found in such vast darkness. Whirlpools of deep blue and black swirled into infinity within those eyes. He suddenly realized what had occurred. The realization caused him for the second time that day to be the first to break his gaze.
The devil had arrived with one single objective - to plant a tiny seed of doubt within him. That was enough to affect the convergence that was occurring within him. Fortunately, his transformation would still occur, but now it would require much more time now to purge himself of the contamination. Years! Maybe even decades would pass until his second coming could occur. The fallen angel stood before him, victorious in its schemes and awaiting its prize. As he resumed his journey, Jesus had no choice but to angrily growl the final words to his adversary through clenched teeth.
"Let it be done, Lucifer."
Written by KillaHawke1