Are the Tattooed Jesus Billboards Blasphemous?
In recent news, there is a campaign of billboards that are stirring up some controversy in Texas and now throughout the nation. An anonymous organization has set up a website devoted to the Gospel. They are the ones sponsoring these many billboards that depict a man representing Jesus covered in tattoos. But these are not ordinary tattoos, they are labels and the names of sins. The reaction has been mixed, but a lot of people are offended that Jesus is portrayed fully covered in body art. They say it is disrespectful, sacrilegious and sensationalism.
When I first saw the article on Yahoo News (the one I linked is an Examiner article) I ignored it. Honest. Then I saw it again in an article margin and decided to check it out. Seeing the picture of Jesus covered in tattoos is not what I'm used to seeing. The campaign is motivated by love to spread the Gospel of Christ. They have a video about Jesus being a tattoo artist in which He goes to work at His tattoo parlor and many different people come in to see Him. Each person has a tattoo that they show Him - tattoos that depict their sin or something they are labeled (you can see them in the video linked above). Jesus removes their tattoo, and in its place He inscribes upon them a different trait - "accepted," "freedom, "humble," "love," etc. They leave overjoyed. At the end, Jesus appears worn out and stops, then reveals that all of their tattoos are now on Him. Not only was He removing their sins, but He was taking them on as His own. As if it wasn't obvious enough, the video then gives a clear and understandable presentation of the Gospel, inviting viewers into a personal relationship with the Kings of kings and Lord of lords - Jesus Christ.
Originally, I was not going to blog about this. But after reading the comments in the Examiner article, I had no choice but to clear the air about the truth of these billboards. So the question that is being asked is:
Are the Tattooed Jesus billboards blasphemous?
These billboards are not blasphemous, sacrilegious or disrespectful in the least. On the contrary, they are INCREDIBLE. It is SUCH a clear, honest and understandable representation of the Gospel. They are beautiful.... and they are exposing many to the Good News and wooing God's lost sheep into the Kingdom.
Let's look at the Bible, shall we?
Second Corinthians 5:21 says, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
Jesus became sin for us so that we could become the righteousness of God. What better way is there to visually demonstrate that Jesus became our sin than to show Him tattooed with the names of our sin on Him? It's not pretty - the cross was gruesome - but it's the truth. Jesus experienced on the cross what no believer will ever have to go through - what it feels like to be forsaken by God. God promises us in the Bible that He will never leave nor forsake His people. Without Christ, you will be forsaken on the day of judgment. But those that know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will never know what that is like because HE already went through that. He BECAME sin even though He was perfect in every way so that those who call on His name would never have to, but would get to experience eternal life with Him in heaven instead. Amazing.
There are countless more verses that I could share on here, but I want to ask you a question: How does this make YOU feel? Would you identify with the group of people who are offended by these billboards or with those cheering on these bold lovers of Christ?
If you are offended, please examine your heart to determine the reason.
Are you offended because this is disrespectful to Jesus or sacrilegious?
Can I encourage you? This is not disrespectful to our Lord. Why? How? Because it is a visual representation of what occurred spiritually on the cross. I honestly think that one of the ways that Christ is disrespected most is when the truth of who He truly is and the gravity of His message are minimized. The "tattooed Jesus" campaign is not minimizing Christ's message. If anything, it is making it even more understandable and applicable to the people who need to hear it the most! Jesus said, "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:32) This clear depiction of the Gospel resonates with so many people. What Christ did was incredible! AND it was permanent! Even more permanent than a tattoo.
Are you offended because the Bible says that tattoos are sinful?
Yes, the Bible does say in Leviticus 19:28, "You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord." But it also says in the verse right before that one, verse 27, "You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard." So who is sinning? Someone getting a tattoo or the person shaving his beard?
The point I'm trying to make is that this is not about proving whether or not tattoos are sinful. The point is that Jesus died on the cross, took on our sin, rose from the dead and provides US with the greatest opportunity ever - which is to turn from our evil ways, give our lives to HIM and spend eternity with Him. The man portraying Jesus on the billboard is not decorated with "normal" tattoos - skulls, "mom" hearts, naked women, the names of dead relatives, etc. He is inscribed with the sins of those who have given their lives to Him in repentance and faith.
The Pharisees got angry at Jesus when He healed people on the Sabbath day. They said He was sinning. Of course we know that Jesus never sinned. It wasn't about the regulations regarding the Sabbath, it was about Jesus changing the lives of those who needed Him. The Pharisees were so full of their religious pride that the Son of God - the MESSIAH - whom they studied about their entire lives was right in front of their faces and they missed Him. THEY WERE BLINDED TO THE TRUTH OF WHO JESUS WAS BECAUSE THEY WERE SO FULL OF THEMSELVES. I'm NOT saying you are full of yourself if you are offended by these billboards. What I am saying is to be careful. Don't be quick to deny God the glory for something that He is so obviously doing to win the hearts of His children. This message does not detract from the Gospel of Christ, but magnifies it and makes it easy for anybody to understand.
Are you offended because these people seem to be doing it for the "shock factor," controversy and to make money?
Ok. Seriously? I was so frustrated when I read people bemoaning this organization and accusing them of only doing this to stir up people, create controversy and utilize the shock factor. The "Jesus Tattoo" movement group makes it clear on their website that they are not doing this for money or to sell anything. They are people in love with Jesus whose lives have been changed by the Good News. Yes, it is controversial and shocking. But even if they are doing it for the controversy, WHO CARES? Really. Big whoop.
When Paul was imprisoned, some people were trying to spread the message of Christ to try and "one up" him. They were motivated by selfish ambition and envy. Do you know how Paul responded? He said, "What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice" (Philippians 1). So even if this organization is just trying to be controversial, then it doesn't matter because Christ is still being preached. And even BETTER, Jesus Christ is being preached throughout our nation and maybe the world through these secular news outlets. This is something to rejoice over! Every network who covered this story unwittingly participated in advancing the Gospel. How AWESOME is that!?!
Things are changing. The Lord is utilizing His people to reach the lost in new and unconventional ways - ways that the "average" church goers are not used to. Jesus ate with tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes and touched lepers. He did controversial and unconventional things to show His love and advance His Kingdom. This offended the "righteous" because they were too proud to realize their need for Christ. Please, please, please think deeply and humbly about these things. God is doing amazing things and it would be devastating to miss out on them.
Lastly, please watch the video below. It is incredible. Thanks.