“Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” (Galatians 6:17 NIV)
The symbolism and impact of tattoos varies in different places and cultures. Tattoos may show how a person feels about a relative or about an unrelated person. Today people choose to be tattooed for artistic, cosmetic, sentimental, memorial and religious reasons. Some choose to be tattooed in order to symbolize their belonging to or identification with particular groups.
Since the 1970s, tattoos have become a mainstream part of Western fashion, common among both sexes, economic classes and age groups. For many young Americans, the tattoo has taken on a decidedly different meaning than for previous generations. The tattoo has “undergone dramatic redefinition” and has shifted from a form of deviance to an acceptable form of expression.
The Greek term for mark is Stigma which means “tattoo.” Paul often speaks of himself as a slave of Christ. So we may translate here: “I bear in my body the brand-marks of the Lord Jesus.” There was a practice in the day of Paul known as branding slaves, indicating to whom they belonged. Paul often identified himself as the slave of Jesus Christ; for him it was a favorite figure.
Beginning April 17, we will focus on being tattooed, marked for Christ. As we explore how loyalty, courage, patience, humility, separation and generosity are marks that Jesus is calling us too. These marks declare that we belong to Christ.