Mankind has awoken to find himself in a pit.
He looks about, encompassed on all sides by an unscalable wall, there is no way down or around.
He looks up, and in the distance sees a light at the very top, beckoning him, calling to him. Open pastures are above.
He gropes at the wall in hope that by some means he can muster up what it takes to get himself out.
The markings on the sides of the pit tell stories of others who have been there before.
There was one named "Good Works" and he wrote that he had once climbed to a height greater than any other, touching the side of the pit nearly 10' up.
"Philosophy" had boasted that he had looked at the light, all those thousands of feet up, longer than anyone before him
"Wisdom" sketched out how to live productively at the bottom of this pit, and muse about what the significance of the light may be and what its source could be
But there was another pair of markings, ancient, as if as old as the pit itself.
One of these was written by the one called "Law", it spoke of life above, the perfections and the glories; it condemned those in the pit for not being the same. "There is no way one could escape this pit." It claimed, "You may be able to clamor at the sides, but even in your best attempt, you will never get out"
The second, written by one named "Prophet", spoke of a plan of escape. "Not on your own" it began, "will you ever reach the top, but there is One coming who will be able to bring you out." Mankind continued to read, "He will live as those above. Perfect. Holy. He is the Creator of us all, even of the one called 'Law'. He will come down the pit from the land above and live here. A perfect life, His. One that will scale the unscalable wall, one that will climb the impossible. He comes down to do one thing, Mankind, to bring you up from this pit, this inescapable pit, to the glories above."
Mankind stumbled back, shocked to see his name written in the most ancient script. "Who is this 'Prophet', that he knows my name even before I was called it?"
His eye caught the last of the markings on the pit's side. Written low, underneath Prophet's writing so that all could see.
"Apostle is my name," it said, "the one spoken of by Prophet has come. He is the Ruler of the land above. Just as Prophet wrote, He lived a life like no other. He showed us the way out. He showed us the rope in this pit, that rope called 'Faith'. It has been here ever since the beginning, and it is only by this rope that you will be rescued. Leave behind what you learned from Philosophy, he only loves to look at the light. Leave behind what you learned from Wisdom, he only speaks of things he doesn't understand because he doesn't hold the rope. Leave behind what you learned from Good Works, he will only tempt you to let go of the rope to try once again to climb the pit.
"Turn from these, grab the rope, and be pulled to safety."
“You know,” I started, “I could eat these all day long.”
As I laid back against a large rock, I rolled my eyes back in my head as I bit another piece of fruit.
Sighing contentedly in the dry breeze, I called out, “This world you made has pleasures aplenty! Why suffer needlessly?”
I offered a piece of fruit to him again, as I had so many times in the past weeks. His starving eyes wouldn’t even look at it. I protested in a taunting voice, “It’s the last one.”
He just laid in the dust amidst the rocks on top of this mountain where he had been for the past couple of days, he no longer had the strength to stand on his own.
“You really outdid yourself on them,” I squinted into the glaring sun and pointed to the vultures circling overhead, “They always know before any other animal.”
I looked back down to the failure on the ground before me as I ate the last of the fruit I brought with. “Well, it looks like it won’t be much longer anyway. Aren’t you hungry?”
He nodded slowly.
“You see that rock next to you?” I asked. “Eat it.”
He closed his eyes and shook his head. I jumped down to where he was and walked up to the rock. “I’ve seen you do much greater things than this.” I tapped the rock closer to his face, “Come on. Turn it into bread and eat it. You know how much your body needs it.”
His mouth was moving with hardly any sound coming out. I knew he said something, so I got closer. In a faint whisper between labored breaths, he said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live… by bread alone… but..’” he paused to get his breath, “but by every word that comes from God’s mouth.”
My upper lipped curled in disgust. “You really believe that?”
He nodded slowly and turned his head away from me.
Speaking through my teeth, I said, “Let’s see how much you really believe that.”
I gathered him up and threw him over my shoulder and began walking. I called out to the vultures, “We’ll be back! Stay hungry!”
It took the rest of the day to walk back to the city. In fact, by the time we came to the city gates, it was well into the night.
“It’s funny how protected they think they are with these walls,” I said as I pulled them open. “As if they have any strength against me.”
I carried him up and came to the temple mount. Part of this structure was settled on the edge of the cliff down into the valley below. When we got there I set him on the edge overlooking the valley.
“So, you really believe that you live by every word that comes from the mouth of God?” I asked, “Then jump!”
I waited for him to consider what this would do. What a sign it could be to verify his identity. Everyone would believe him, not just a select few.
“If you are the Son of God, you are certainly in safety to jump. Didn’t God say, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone’?”
He languished as he answered, “Again, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
I stood there for a while staring at the valley floor below, desiring to shove him off and be rid of him.
I cannot tell you how wonderful my freedom had been these several thousand years. After being unceremoniously thrown from the garden, I made quite a name for myself. People served me all throughout the world, I even had several of my lieutenants possessing people throughout this little country to show everyone that incarnation is not such a unique feat as they would make it out to be. But in the midst of my freedom I’ve never been able to fully achieve what I set out to get. I wanted to be like God, but there was something missing. There was something missing and I was going to give up everything I had to gain possession of it. This man was here to win back what I took, and I was going to give it all to him for an insignificant recognition.
His voice seemed to hang in the air, “You can’t be serious,” I said.
I picked him back up and slouched his lifeless frame over my shoulder, this time with annoyed force, “Follow me,” I sneered, “and I’ll make you the owner of all men.”
I walked through the night in silence. “Would this work,” I thought to myself, “to give up everything that I have to gain possession of the one thing I’ve always wanted?” To be exalted over the realm of creation is high, to be sure. But what I wanted more than anything in creation was to be like the Most High. The only thing missing is the worship of the Son of God. I craved it. Not because I liked this sack of humanity on my shoulder, but because his exaltation of me would finally make me like God. I knew the power he had in his worship, I have seen it before.
As we approached where we left from the day before, I threw him back down to his favorite spot there in the rocks. The morning sun was coming up and it was already becoming hot.
“I wonder where those vultures went,” I said, squinting into the sun, “they are about to miss breakfast.”
“You know,” I started, “you don’t need to go through all of this to win back the world.” I stopped to let it sink in. “I’ll give it to you right now.”
He didn’t move.
“Countries, kingdoms, fame, people, and worship. It’s all mine now, but it could be yours.”
Again, he didn’t move.
I looked down to him again, “Living on every word from God isn’t so enjoyable in the desert is it?”
Again, he lay there nearly motionless, just a still small breath in him.
“All these I will give to you if you just worship me.”
From his dried and cracked lips, he quietly said, “Get out of here.” Although quiet, his words threw me flat on my back amidst the rocks. As I shook off the daze of confusion, I heard him say, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and only serve him.’”
Hopeless. Utterly hopeless. This man was on the verge of death to worship God. I would have given him the whole world just to redirect his worship of God to me and he won’t take me up on it.
“Fine!” I sneered as I walked away, “Go ahead and die!”
After leaving him I looked back to see angels coming down out of heaven to feed and take care of him. I sat down here and am watching from a distance. If God is not going to let him die here, then I’m going to have to kill him myself. He will die and darkness will cover the land again.
It was a cold morning. I could feel the beading dew running down my scales and dripping to the ground below.
“What a miserable place.” I shivered under my breath, “’Very Good’ indeed.”
As I pushed through the wet leaves of that tree I was only warmed by the glowing resentment for the one who sent me here. All I wanted to do was improve my standing. To be more like the king. Of course, in a sweeping over-reaction to my attempts to raise myself up, he, ever the jealous sort, could not take any competition. In such abuse of power, he threw me out of his house to this unpleasant realm of leaves and sap.
“What hell.” I muttered again.
I was looking. Not for food or home, but for a chance to free more subjects of the king from his oppressive rule.
“I will set them free,” I said to myself, “set them free to choose whether or not they want to serve the king. All that must be done is show them that he has overstepped his authority and is just using fear to control them.”
I pushed aside one last wet leaf out of my face and there she was, the woman. Perfect. Looking to the fruit among the tree I was in, I remembered that they were told not to eat it.
“The king always keeps the best fruit for himself.”
“What was that?” The woman asked.
I said, “Oh, I didn’t see you there!” I stopped for a second to look back at the fruit of the tree, “Did the king actually say that you can’t eat off of any tree in this garden?!”
She looked at the fruit of that tree and clarified, “No.” She said, hesitantly, “We can eat fruit out of any of the trees in the garden except this one. He said that if we even touch it we will die.”
“Die?!” I laughed, “You won’t die!” I grabbed one of the fruits and bit into it with an obvious enjoyment, responding with its juice running out of my mouth, “Quite the opposite, actually, you will never feel more alive than when eating this fruit. The king keeps this for himself and does not allow his subjects to have any of it. He knows that in eating it you will be free, like him. You will know and experience things that only he does.” I swallowed another bite of its sweetness.
There was a long pause as she looked at the fruit. I could tell that she desired to be free from the oppression of the king. The morning light danced off her eyes as she considered the fruit.
“It does look good,” she started, “and why else would he hold us back from this one tree unless he was threatened by it.”
“That’s exactly right.” I seethed, “I’ve been eating it all morning, and look!” I looked up to heaven, “I’m still alive!”
As my eyes fell back to the woman, she already had the first piece of fruit in her mouth. The man was close by and came over to see what was happening. She handed him some of the fruit and he ate as well.
They sat down and leaned against that tree, enjoying the fruit for the rest of the morning. It was a freedom that neither had known, a freedom I was well acquainted with. I knew that rush of liberty, that desire to be wise, that all-consuming fire of independence. They were joining me in it, and I couldn’t have been happier.
After they had had their fill of fruit and enjoyment they looked at one another with a look other than that of enjoyment. I watched intently. It soon came to their realization that they were naked. As I watched this wisdom flood their minds, I whispered to them, “Can you see what was hidden?”
They slowly nodded.
“Let the freedom overcome you.” I coiled tighter around the tree’s branch until I could feel every detail of the bark. “You are becoming like the king,” I seethed, “Just like me.”
The man, obviously panicked, jumped up and started ferociously pulling leaves out of the tree. “We must cover ourselves!” He shouted. They both gathered several leaves and vines together and sewed coverings for themselves as hurriedly as they could.
“You have nothing to be ashamed of!” I said to them, “This is who you are now, it cannot be taken away and it cannot be covered over.”
I reasoned with them about their new freedom for that whole afternoon, but they were incredulous! They couldn’t handle the freedom they now had and yearned to have it taken away again. The fools! How could wisdom be a bad thing? The king’s effect on them was obviously deeper than on me.
As the day came to its close and the cool evening breeze slithered through the trees of that garden, another sound accompanied it. I knew that sound. It was the king, walking through the garden.
The man and woman quickly hid in some low hanging trees several paces away from this tree I was in.
“Where are you?” the king called out.
“I heard you coming, so I hid in fear of you. My covering I made to cover my nakedness is not good enough.”
“Did someone tell you that you were naked?” He pointed to my tree, “Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat?”
The man pointed at the woman and said, “You made this woman, you gave her to me, and she gave me the fruit to eat.”
I gave a quick grin at this. The woman was quiet, but the man was standing his ground in his new freedom, even blaming the king for the woman! I beamed with pride.
The king looked intently at the woman and pleaded, “What have you done?”
She pointed right at me, “He tricked me, and I ate.”
I quickly looked around for a hiding place, some hole, some cleft, but there was no place to hide. I looked back up to see the glare of the king staring right at me. He didn’t even ask for my side of the story!
“Cursed are you because of what you have done!” He said, “Cursed above all the beasts of the field!”
He wrenched me out of the tree and pinned me to the ground. “You will now crawl on your belly in the dirt for as long as you live.”
Grabbing my head, he forced me to look at the woman, “There will come hostility between you and her descendants. He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel.”
He took hold of me and threw me out of the garden into the wilderness to fend for myself. It was, I supposed, the prize of my freedom. I didn’t need the man and the woman anyway. Besides, I knew what the king was like. Someone was going to have to die and I’m sure glad it wasn’t me.