When the devil tempted Jesus, Matthew records for us that he took Him up to an exceedingly high mountain. He gave Him a lofty view. He tried to make Him feel like He was being offered something special and noble, when in fact he was offering Him the very thing thing that He was sent to win – the kingdoms of this world and their glory. That’s always the way that it is. Sin doesn’t at first reveal itself to us as sin. It first comes wearing the disguise of beauty, because if it first appeared as it really is, under its own name, we would never receive it. But when sin first knocks at the door it gives a false name – the name of something good. We let it in under false pretenses. It looks like an angel. Walks like a cherub, and sounds like a messenger from Heaven.
If Barabbas appeared as a robber, no one would prefer him over our Lord. But Barabbas is the mock Christ, the pretend Messiah, the false Jesus. He claims the same mission. He offers the same reward. He points to the same goal – freedom and power. So, we choose him as a result of a fake identity. We take him for the Lord of glory.
I am not afraid of being tempted by sin’s ugliness, but its beauty. Its not the valley, but the mountain that I fear. How many young people are drawn away by a mistaken identity – Christ’s robe covering the form of Barabbas? How many times has a good time spent with friends turned into a time of great danger? How many times has a warm heart led us into sinking sand that a colder heart would have kept us free from?
So, then, isn’t the answer then to have a cold heart? Absolutely not! Don’t forsake the view from the mountain because of its danger. The devil tries to tempt us with high hopes to sin – the same hopes that the Lord places before us for our good. You see, all of the lures in the temper’s tackle box are really the counterfeits of the blessings of Jesus. His is the true cup of kindness. His is the real hour of fellowship. His is the genuine good time song – the song of Moses and the triumph of the Lamb. His are the kingdoms of this world and their glory – the earth and all of its fullness.
Keep your exceedingly high mountain – but when you reach it’s summit, don’t greet Barabbas, but Jesus!