I’ve just come back from a fantastic holiday and am feeling more blessed and relaxed as a result. It was great to sit and read some books in the sunshine and practice my rusty Spanish a little. While sitting round the pool I noticed however just how many people have tattoos these days. It used to be that if you had a tattoo it made you unique. I joked with my kids that these days if you want to be unique, don't have a tattoo. I really did feel in the minority.
“I love Mum” etched up a forearm. Something in Chinese on a belly. A child’s face on the calf of a leg. Hebrew characters, tribal symbols, football teams, hearts, roses, sleeves and sleeves and more sleeves!
In our culture, tattoos have become a sign of love, endearment and loyalty. It's a modern day commitment in our society to something, someone, an idea or ideal. It's supposed to be permanent but I understand there is now a boom industry around tattoo removal!
Having a tattoo, however, is a serious decision.
Without doing an article on my thoughts of whether Leviticus 19 is culturally relevant or not, you may be surprised to discover that the tattoo is not the hipster bearded bloke's original idea. God was the first to have a tattoo... check it out:
Around 740BC, God’s wanting His people to understand just how much He loves them: “I have engraved you on the palms of My hands” (Isaiah 49:16).
I have read this lots of times, but around the pool I found myself considering it in a different way. Long before tattoos had even been thought about, God was stating His love and commitment to us.
God is talking not only about inscribing His people on the palms of His hands, but giving a picture on the hands of His Son. This verse is in an area of the Bible that foretells Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection. God would be giving His only Son and on the cross allowing permanent scars on His hands.
A tattoo of us.
I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.
I kept on noticing, especially with the pictures of children’s faces on calves, backs and bellies, God went out and got marked for me and then He marked His Son for me. This talks of His character.
He’s obsessed with me, so obsessed that He put me on His hands.
For the Creator of all things, hands are important. They represent power; you build with them, create with them, reach out and hold with them.
Jesus’ words in Luke 23:46 were “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” as He breathed His last breath on the cross.
On those same hands I find my name, my face.
God became marked for us, but He also marks us to reveal that we are His. He says in Jeremiah 31:33 “I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts”. The verse continues, “I will be their God, and they will be My people".
When did He do this, was it when we got everything right, our lives all sorted out? The Apostle Paul put it this way in Romans 5:8: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. When we were still getting things wrong, far from perfect, our lives in a mess, God was engraving our name on Jesus’ hands and His: in a permanent way on His hands, in scars on Jesus’s hands.
What do we do, what should be our response? It is to accept that God loves you, that Jesus took on scars for you. John 3:16 says that “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that whoever believes shall have eternal life”. Whoever – that's me, one whoever – but also you.
If today, tomorrow or whenever you see a tattoo (and I’m sure you will), consider this: God has YOU on His hands, and the scars of Jesus' hands are a sign of His loving you.