Pastor Dale E. Austin Matthew 4:1-11
Hi, there. My name is Brandon Lane Zebub. I’m in the business of influencing people and helping them to make choices. Not to brag, but I’m the best in the business. I’m really, really good at it; no one can top me. To my friends – and I have a lot of them – I’m usually known simply as B.L. – B.L. Zebub. Some of you have probably heard of me. As I look around here this morning, I see a lot of familiar faces. Yes, I have lots of friends.
It’s odd, though. For some reason most of those friends won’t even admit to knowing me. They like to pretend that they’ve never even met me, but we’re quite well acquainted. Granted, here and there you’ll find a small coven … uh, gathering of my friends who openly acknowledge me and even claim to worship me. I love those folks!! Yes, I have lots of friends, and I have a lot of fun with them even if they don’t want to admit knowing me. But you see, you humans. . . you humans are such easy targets. Such easy marks.
I do recall one guy, though, who just wouldn’t cave in … I mean, agree to my suggestions. I wasn’t happy with him. I’m not used to failure. It doesn’t happen very often – at least, not totally. Oh, now and then someone might give me an occasional setback, but I’m very good at finding someone’s weak spot and exploiting it. Like I said, I’m in the business of influencing people – I didn’t say in what direction. But this guy, this Jesus fellow, didn’t seem to have a weakness. Yuck! It makes my skin crawl just to mention his name. But I don’t give up easily, so I kept trying.
You folks have lots of people who you like to admire as “saints” or “heroes.” Let me tell you, if you knew them the way that I know them, you’d probably disown most of them. Even the greatest of your so-called “saints” has a weakness. It’s only a matter of time before I find it and learn to use it to my advantage. It could be a nagging doubt, some insecurity, a weakness or some temptation to which they’re particularly susceptible. Most often it’s just plain guilt over some past choice which they now regret. (By the way, I’m responsible for those choices, you know.) Yep. . .whatever the flaw, I’ll find it. As I said, I’m very good at doing my job.
Jes … Je … J … you know who I’m talking about – that guy wasn’t like everyone else. He was one tough egg to crack. He’s the only complete failure that I’ve ever known. And it wasn’t as though I didn’t try. I offered him fame and fortune, popularity beyond his wildest imagination, power over not just this world but the entire universe.
He wouldn’t take the bait.
I still don’t understand, to this day. Those were some of my best ploys. They never fail. But every time I’d try to break him down, he’d come right back at me with some quote from the scriptures. I hate the scriptures!! (Except when I can get people to twist them around to their own advantage.) Not being able to break him down was like driving a knife into my heart – well, if I had one. Hearing him quote those words was like twisting that knife and digging around inside there. Eventually, I had to move on. He just wasn’t going to break.
Yes, he was one tough egg to crack. Truth be told (Ewwww, that’s something else I hate. . .Truth), he didn’t crack; I failed. I hate to fail. I can usually gain some foothold in everyone’s life.
But not that day.
I still cringe whenever I hear his name. I’m fortunate, though. There are a lot of other folks in this world who aren’t anywhere near as tough to crack. People like you. I’ve still got plenty of work to do, and lots of willing victims – I mean, clients. Most of you, you’re a piece of cake. You’re so much easier to influence than you want to believe you are.
So I’ll be around. You might not want to acknowledge knowing me, but I’ll be there just the same. You never know when I might choose to pounce. Don’t bother watching for me. You won’t even see me coming, until it’s too late.
As I said, I’m very good at what I do.