At the end of forty days, the man had become weary from hunger and weakened by the elements. He turned his eyes to heaven and whispered, “Father, all You ask of me I shall do.”
Storm clouds were gathering in the distance, darkening the sky, thunder rumbling. The man let out a shaky breath and a shiver went up his spine. He didn’t need to turn around to know someone was standing behind him.
“So, what are you planning to do? What terrible scheme does Father have planned now?”
The man turned and gazed at what was once the brightest angel in all of heaven. Lucifer stared at him with unblinking eyes, like a cat who had just caught its prey in its sight. The man said, “What concern of it is yours?”
Lucifer slowly moved forward and stopped beside him. “It’s every concern of mine. Just what sort of madness would possess Him to go and do something like this, anyway?” He gestured to the man, his eyes narrowed.
“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”
“Don’t you? Hm.” Lucifer stepped away from him, though he never took his eyes off the man. “Just what sort of work has He sent you to do? What would He need a human to do it for?”
The man peered at him and after a short silence he said, “You were cast from heaven even before this world took seed. You have been here to see the conception of humanity. You have seen the brokenness of this world. I have come to offer healing to it.”
“Is that so? And how do you expect to do that?”
“By showing them the way.”
Lucifer frowned at him. “The way? I assume you mean Father. And just who are you, anyway?” He stepped closer to the man, nearly touching him. “A king? A prophet? A warrior?” He let out a breath, clenching his hand into a fist. “Are you really the Son of God?”
The man stared at him and said, “I am.”
Lucifer unclenched his fist and took a step away. “Then why don’t you go ahead and finish it right now? You have that power, don’t you? Why don’t you just take it all?”
“What good would that do?” the man asked.
Lucifer studied him for a moment and inclined his head. “I see. Because of that ‘free will’ thing, right? The thing that made humanity turn against Him in the first place. Why, then, do you let it persist? Isn’t that just a burden to you?”
The man bowed his head slightly and closed his eyes, letting out a deep breath. “What would be the point in their existence if they did not have free will? What would be the point in yours?”
Lucifer stiffened and glared at the man. “Do you want me to show you what good your free will has done?” He reached out and gripped the man by the shoulder, and in a flutter of wings they were up on a high mountain top. Lucifer pointed out across the vast landscape and from that vantage point they could see almost every kingdom of the world.
“From the very start they’ve been turning against Him,” Lucifer said. “There were those who remained faithful, but even they often gave in to the desires of their own selfish hearts. His ‘chosen people’ have been dragged to and fro in all their existence, enslaved, tortured, put to death. For His sake. And here they are again under a new rule. They hate it. They want it to stop. Is that what you’re here to do? End their suffering?”
“Perhaps not in the way they’re looking for,” the man said quietly. Lucifer frowned at him.
“Aren’t you here to punish humanity for its sins? For every vile, putrid act they have committed? What are you really here for?”
“To bring the Kingdom of God to them.”
Lucifer stared at the man and tilted his head to the side. “I see.” He took a step closer to the man and breathed out. “There’s a much simpler way to do this than however you’re planning to.”
The man turned to him with a slight frown. “And how would that be?”
Lucifer gestured across the land, locking eyes with the man and never blinking. “All the kingdoms of the world, across every inch of land humanity has spread. You want to reach all of them, do you not? I could show you how to take them.”
“And what would you suggest?” the man asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I can give it to you,” Lucifer said. “While the forces of heaven may be strong, I am stronger. I can give you all of it, everything that you desire. If you want them, I will give them to you if you worship me. If you acknowledge me as the stronger one.”
Lucifer’s fingers twitched when he said this and power sparked through them. He was more powerful, far more powerful than this simple man standing before him. He could kill him in an instant without a second thought and the world would go on. So why did he feel so uneasy?
“I will not,” the man said, narrowing his eyes at Lucifer. “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.’ You have no power here, so be gone!”
Lucifer clenched his hand into a fist and he could feel his power burning through his muscles. Oh how he wanted to strike this man down. He leaned closer to the man, intending to do just that, but then he stopped. A chill ran down his spine and he felt something Else nearby. He grit his teeth and backed away.
“Have it your way,” he said. “It’s never going to work, though. They won’t follow you. Why would they start now? Nothing is going to change.”
Lucifer left the man on the tall mountain, not caring about what would happen to him. He didn’t return to the others but instead found somewhere he could be alone. He gripped his arm, which was still shaking from the power that was crying to be unleashed, and let out a deep breath.
Thunder crackled through the sky and lightning flashed in the dark clouds overhead. Rain began pouring down, stabbing those it hit like icy daggers. The raindrops fell all around him but Lucifer didn’t take notice. He relaxed his tense muscles somewhat and hissed out a breath.