In 2003, one of the greatest boxers of all time took one of the boldest steps in his career. Not only was he known for 20 second knockouts, or for his fast hands, and odd sounding voice- he was now known for being one of the first celebrities to get a hideous face tattoo. Can you guess who I am talking about? If you don’t, you're probably under the age of 20 and know him for his features in movies like the Hangover. I’m talking about Mike Tyson- c'mon guys stop making me feel so old, I'm only 29! Anyway, since then, getting tatted seems to be a lot more popular than it was before. Rappers like 6ix9ine, Post Malone, XXXtentacion, and many more have made it known that face tats and tattoos in general are now more popular than they’ve ever been. What if I told you that Jesus was a part of that group? Wait...what? According to Revelation 19:16, could Jesus be tatted? Let's find out together!
On his robe and on his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
First off, did Jesus have a tattoo?
The straight up answer is, absolutely not. No chance. As cool as it would be to think of Jesus sleeved up, the tattooing that scripture talks about is not exactly the tattoos we see in our society. To answer this, articles all over the internet instantly bring up Leviticus 19:28. Because of its popularity, I want to discuss this verse in context right from the start.
You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD.
This is the only part of scripture that references to tattoos, or making marks on our bodies. In actuality, the word tattoo didn’t enter the English language until the 1700’s so to say that Jesus wouldn’t have what we consider tattoos in our society, in response to the Levitical law, is taking the law out of context simply because the popular style of tattoos we know today did not exist during the time of Jesus.
So what kind of tattoos was Leviticus talking about?
Based on archaeological evidence, we know that Egypt did have a form of tattooing but it was limited to women. In their case, they would tattoo for good luck or to stamp the fertility goddess, Bes into their skin. Obviously, Jesus would not have a tattoo to support either one of the aforementioned reasons; first off, he was not a woman and secondly, he would never praise or honor an idol. In comparison, for Canaan, inking the skin was used for a different purpose. They did more extreme marks into their skin by cutting into their skin to mourn the dead and honor their fake gods. Again, Jesus would not have a tattoo during his time because it was not in his character to honor fake gods during funeral rituals. In the Levitical context, the law was referring to a completely different type of tattooing in comparison to the one we are used to in today’s society. The Bible doesn’t say anything else about tattooing anywhere else so it’s impossible to draw any other conclusions from this text in Leviticus. However, after studying the details of the Levitical law context, we can safely conclude that Jesus most definitely did not have a tattoo because it was most definitely not his mission to honor fake gods-it has nothing to do with the law itself; Jesus wouldn’t have a tattoo with or without the law in place due to the purposes of tattoos back then.
So what exactly is Revelation 19:16 talking about then?
In order to properly understand this verse, despite the many interpretations of the Book of Revelation, every Bible reader can definitely agree that there is a ton of figurative language and symbolic imagery in it. Jesus most definitely does not have flames as eyes or a sword coming out of his mouth- so it’s safe to say, he doesn’t have a thigh tattoo either. (Shout out to all the thighs out there- “Genesis episode”). One way to interpret this verse is to say that the robe was on his thigh. Rulers often had their titles embroidered on their robes or engravements on their armor. In this text, Jesus was sitting on a white horse, so it’s very likely that in this imagery the title written on his robe, rested on his thigh since He was on the horse, and John (the author) was just being very descriptive. Think about the imagery in this text. First of all, Jesus was wearing a robe- a sign of majesty, the thigh is symbolic to power, since a warrior’s sword rests on his thigh, and finally, the name: King of Kings and Lord of Lords. All the imagery in this text, screams who Jesus is and what He means to us! Let’s attack that point now!
What does this text say about Jesus and what does it mean for us?
In any of the Weird Verse Wednesday blogs that I write, this final paragraph is always my favorite; this is where I get to tell you about Jesus Christ and what he did for you. Specifically, In Revelation 19:16, the overall point has NOTHING to do with tattoos and everything to do with proclaiming, in a very descriptive way, who Jesus Christ is. Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords! This verse is telling us that a very powerful Jesus Christ will return one day and He is the ultimate ruler and judge. Will you be ready? Jesus loves you enough that He died on the cross for your sins and He desires a relationship with you. Have you proclaimed Him as your Lord and Savior? If you have any questions about this text or any question at all about Jesus, feel free to reach out to us on social media or email us! I look forward to sharing the Good News that we have a powerful and loving God that gave us a perfect opportunity to have a real relationship with him!