If you live in or around Lubbock, Texas, you may have seen the new billboards in that area which show Jesus, tattooed with words like "fear," or "outcast" or a number of other words signifying the sins and shortcomings of man. The caption of the billboard adds more explanation when we read its words, "Marked by our past, Transformed by love."
The billboards have sparked quite a controversy as some religious groups like the message while others oppose it. Most of the opposition comes from a verse in Leviticus 19:28 which states, "do not mark your bodies with tattoos." A closer look at the context reminds us that was a time when pagans were infiltrating the Israelites, and a part of the pagan lifestyle included tattoos. While some would say that is a direct command to NOT get a tattoo, we must also note just two verses prior to that says that men should not cut their beards or their sideburns. So here we have another example of isolating a verse to support one side of a discussion, and then we grab our razors and feel innocent in making our faces hairless. The context of both the tattoos and the shaving in this section of the scripture is advising us of the danger of becoming identified as pagans if we shave or get a tattoo, and using those verses to make both acts totally wrong robs us of the real message they are delivering. I think I feel a Romans 14 moment coming on.......go read it!
Texas Monthly magazine has an article about the billboards, and how divided the South Plains residents are in the opinions they express. I want to go on record as saying I refuse to take sides on the issue before knowing the motives of those showing a tattooed Jesus. I must also say I have seen some tattoos that are in good taste, but while saying that I also must say, "it's not for me."
The more I think about the billboards, I am leaning toward congratulating those responsible for putting them up. They are showing everyone the basis of the gospel message which we believe and share with others. It possibly is the best way I have seen in getting a part of our society to know all those negative things, as seen in Jesus' tattoos, are the very things we carry with us in life. They burden us and weigh us down to the point we have nowhere to turn. However, Jesus came and instructed us to cast our cares and burdens on him, and then he took them to his cross. The greatest act ever, showing love and forgiveness, and it's all put on Jesus as he gives his life to pay for our sins. Glory to God!