There are many reasons to get a tattoo. One is because you want to remember something, one is you want to be cool, one is everyone else is doing it, and one is because no one else is doing it. I’m sure there are many others, but those are the ones I can think of. But they aren’t mine.
I got a tattoo about 10 months ago with a dear friend of mine. It was an idea I had been sitting on for a while, and had made the jump from man I think that’s cool to I’m ready for this commitment. So I got it, and after the month of comments from those who know me (“Wow, a tattoo? You?” or my favorite, “Is that a tattoo?!” [No, I just drew on myself…]), I forgot about it. The gravity of it slipped away. The uniqueness of it slipped away. The thinking about it every day slipped away, or better yet, the integration of it into daily conversations slipped away. It slipped away, until it was no more than a mark I wore and continue to wear, a badge of honor the I have something that will last me a lifetime.
This past Easter Sunday, I realized that I’ve (at times) let my faith in Jesus be as complacent as my tattoo. I’ve worn it at times as no more important than a stamp on my head, or a word that I’ve spoken, but not something that changes every fiber of my being, for the better.
The Fire and the Flame, and the Fanning of Joy
I was baptized on July 23, 2017, but had been following Jesus for some time before that. But man, the day I was baptized I lit up. I had a fire in my belly that couldn’t be extinguished- I felt extreme joy and wanted to tell anyone and everyone who wanted to know….for that first week. The flame didn’t leave, but my baptism became more of a badge of honor and a check on the list than a commitment I chose to make, every single day, of following Jesus and letting the world know.
What He Did Changes Everything, and my Every Day
The reason, originally, that I got the tattoo was to constantly remind myself of the death and resurrection of Jesus, to keep me focused when I feel like I am falling apart, and for whenever I’m looking down to remind me to keep a vertical perspective and not a horizontal one. I feel like I’ve been desensitized to what really happened.
Here’s what really happened:
THEY CELEBRATED HIM: Matthew 21:8-9- “Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in the highest heaven!”
THEY CONDEMNED HIM: Matthew 27:28-29- “”They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail King of the Jews!””
THEY CRUCIFIED HIM: Matthew 27:50-51- “Then Jesus shouted again, and he released his Spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in tow, from top to bottom.”
HE ROSE: Matthew 28:2-8- “Suddenly, there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shown like lightning, and his clothing was white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” He said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was laying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”
This changes everything.
The True Tattoo
It’s not about tattooing your faith on your sleeve for the world to see, it’s about tattooing Jesus on your heart for the world to feel.
And that’s something I lost, for a long time- following Jesus isn’t something I need to claim, it’s something I need to live out, each and every day and with no reservations.
So today, I remember that I serve and live for the risen King. I remember the pain, I remember the struggle, I remember the loneliness, and I remember him rising, on that third day.
I remember that following Jesus isn’t meant to be easy, but it’s worth it. And while the tattoo is a beautiful reminder of that, the provision I see and feel every day from God is the best reminder of all.
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