A few weeks ago at church, a tattoo artist shared his testimony of how God transformed his tattoo business into a ministry; he removes or covers up tattoos from former gang members and women who were enslaved in human trafficking. The tattoos are painful reminders of past bondage, so removing them is a powerful statement and assertion of the person’s present freedom.
As I was listening to this testimony, I thought of the mark of the beast referenced in Revelation 13:17—“and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.”
Whether or not this verse refers to a literal tattoo people will have, I think it can also symbolize the soul-deforming scars we all bear as we’ve given into the ways of the world or been marked by evil resulting from other people’s sin. It often seems we cannot “succeed” in life if we don’t live with these marks: can’t run a profitable business without dishonesty, can’t advance in a career without stepping on others, can’t reveal our hurt and brokenness for fear of being rejected. In these ways and others we have compromised who God created us to be in order to participate in the world’s “economy” of personal achievement and self-exaltation.
Yet Jesus was scarred for us that He might redeem us from the chains of sin, shackles we otherwise would feel obligated to submit to in order to survive in the world. Instead we can become slaves to righteousness, which gives us the freedom to be who we are in Christ as we rest in what Jesus has done for us. His wounds have healed ours.
With holes in His wrists and feet Jesus invites us to grasp His hand as He leads us on the narrow path that leads to life, and to freedom.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. –Isaiah 53:5