Jesus, tattooed for my transgressions?

What do you think of this image?

A screenshot from the JesusTattoo.org video.

A screenshot from the JesusTattoo.org video.

It, and others like it, are at the center of a firestorm. These images are on billboards across Texas as part of the JesusTattoo.org campaign showing Jesus taking on the sins of the world in the form of tattoos.

(I’m a native Texan, by the way.)

The polarizing effects of this campaign are evidenced in this exchange I had on Facebook with a total stranger. A friend of mine posted the link and asked simply, “What do you think of a tatted-up Jesus?”

To which, I replied –

Jana Greene:  I think it’s beautiful.  I think Jesus cares about the heart of a person. Our bodies are the Temple, yes – but temples can be adorned, or defaced.  It’s in the eye of the beholder (plus, there is plenty of grace to cover what society deems as blasphemous.  Just my 2 cents.

Stranger:  Ends don’t justify means. He is the Lamb without spot or blemish.

Jana Michelle Greene:  Respectfully, without spot or blemish physically? I don’t understand it that way….too surface-based; too skin deep.

Stranger: I appreciate your disagreement Jana, however the physical characteristics of Christ …”Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

Jana Greene:  Respectfully, the spot and wrinkle – to my heart – is a reference to purity of spirit. God is such a Creative Force, I believe he appreciates art. I know we are made in His image and perfect the way we are born (to Him) but my Jesus is an “in the trenches” force of redemption. He bore our transgressions. The image of a tatted up Christ squeezes my heart, because it is a visual of Him bearing them. I used to feel the exact same way that you do about tats (piercings, etc.) but I no longer do. After struggles with many transgressions myself (including being an alcoholic in recovery) I can appreciate that skin is skin and Grace is sufficient to cover all – surface deep and spirit-deep

He goes on to say that “there can be no compromise….”

Yikes.

I love a good debate.  Not argument, mind you – but a nice, flowing exchange of reason. And I’m grateful for the thoughtful interchange. Still … is it the “letter of the law” to bicker about this?

I am not offended by tattoos, in general. But I also read The Message translation of the Bible – I am that Christian. That opinion, admittedly, has been hard-learned (see More than Many Sparrows).

But no matter what how you feel about tats, I don’t understand this campaign imagery as “blasphemous.”

When I saw it, it didn’t occur to me that an image of Jesus was desecrated. It didn’t bring to mind my Jesus going through all of the stages of tattoo-dom….., trying to choose just the right design, in just the right font and color – and then schlepping down to Ink n’ Such and going to the artist to ask for a tattoo on his arm or back.

Metaphorically, he did chose to be covered – without getting picky about the color, style, or location of the markings. He took it all.

When I first saw the image, it just broke my heart. Oh, the humanity! Oh, the holiness! All so that we can be found without blemish to the Father.

It isn’t a debate about whether Jesus would have gotten tattoos if he were walking around in a physical body on this planet in the flesh right now (and, who’s to say that he is not walking among us from time to time?)

Tattoos are a human thing, right? He wouldn’t have marked himself.

That’s kind of the point. It WAS humans who covered him in stripes. He WAS branded in a literal and figurative sense, by humankind.

But – GOOD NEWS! – He was also branded, marked (and, semantics notwithstanding) tatted up FOR all humankind.

You and me.

And if the sins of the people were represented by tattoos, there wouldn’t be enough ink in the world for it to be represented, and Jesus wouldn’t have had enough surface space on his body to accommodate it.

In prophesy, written long before his world-changing mere 33 years in flesh on this earth, it was written of him:

“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5  (NKJV)

By his blood I am healed. In the beautiful representation of all he carried to the cross – by his ink, I compromised my shame and sorrow, and he made me whole again.

Against all reason.

Here is the campaign page, for your enjoyment: http://jesustattoo.org/

One Response to “Jesus, tattooed for my transgressions?”

  1. Paul Dunham

    His stripes are not a blemish, they are signs of our salvation. I have a T-shirt that says that scars are just tattoos with better stories. He bears those scars to show us his love for us. Look at his hands, his feet, his side- they are marked.

    This image is powerful. They make visible what Jesus took on in the invisible.

    Reply

Leave a Reply