Are you familiar with Glamour Shots? It’s a photo studio that specializes in “makeover photography.” Everyday looking people can be made to look like they should be models for lipstick or jeans or at least Campbell’s Soup. The beauty of Glamour Shots, however, is matched by its danger. If I had such a picture of myself looking down on me from the shelf, it would be saying, “Hey, Dean, why do you look so drab today? And those gray hairs, bald head, and wrinkles appearing like messengers of your mortality? Get a life, Dean! You ought to look like this Glamour Shot every day!”
And therein is the lie. Not of Glamour Shots, for they do nothing on their own to give the impression that the look will last. That’s why they call it a “makeover.” The lie is of our own misguided human nature, cheered on by the devil himself.
“You don’t look good. So you must not be good.” Jesus looked good for his momentary makeover at his transfiguration. Really good. “The appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white.” (Luke 9:29). So good that Peter wanted to keep him that way. A momentous display of glory that Peter told Jesus should last a long time. “Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Luke 9:33).
Peter believed the lie. If Jesus had believed it too, he wouldn’t have trudged down the mountain and ridden into Jerusalem to die as the sacrificial Lamb of God. Jesus didn’t look good when he was bound by the guards, spit on by the Sanhedrin, and crucified next to criminals. But he was good. Very good.
Jesus’ transfiguration was meant to be a momentous glamour. To last only a moment, as a glimpse of glory. The real glory for sinners, however, would come through a Savior’s suffering for sinners in a way that was good but not glamorous. With Valentine’s Day approaching, lovers will celebrate their momentous glamour of love. The lie will tickle their ears and hearts: love should look and feel this good all the time. The roses. The chocolates. The sweet whispers and warm hugs and romantic dinners.
No. Sometimes love doesn’t look good. It sacrifices.
It groans. It bleeds. Perhaps even dies.