Did Jesus Have a Tattoo?
Many people read Revelation 19:16 and come to the conclusion that Jesus will have a tattoo when He returns. But is this biblically accurate? Director Nic Lesmeister with Gateway Center for Israel sorts it all out in this video.
Did Jesus have a tattoo? This is a great question.
I want to start by just separating out the question within the question, because there’s two things at play here. The first is, did Jesus have a tattoo? That’s pretty straightforward. I’m going to answer that in a second. The second question is, if he had a tattoo, does that mean it’s okay for me to have a tattoo? So let me first just before we get into anything, say that most likely, it’s totally fine that you have a tattoo. God’s not judging you if you do, but let me then tell you maybe why Jesus didn’t have a tattoo to guide you a little bit and make you feel better about whether or not you do have a tattoo.
So we need to start with an understanding of who Jesus was. Jesus was a faithful, observant Jewish man – the Jewish Messiah. And when John wrote the book of Revelation in chapter 19:16, he saw an image of Jesus coming back on the earth and it says that on his thigh, it is written King of kings and Lord of Lords. This is where people ask the question, well then did Jesus have a tattoo? Was that tattooed on Jesus’ body? When we understand that Jesus was a faithful and observant Jewish man, we understand that he would have obeyed the commands of the law of Moses, including Leviticus 19, that says, you shall not cut your body and you shall not have a tattoo.
Why did God command his people not to have tattoos? At the time when God was covenanting to himself one group of people, the Jewish people, to be different than all the rest of the people on Earth, many people around the Jewish people put tattoos on their body that reflected their allegiance to different deities. Now, what was God saying? He was saying, you are to have one God. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall serve no other God but him. This was God’s way of saying, you don’t tattoo your body with an identity of some other God because you’re covenanted to me. So I don’t want you to put anything on your body.
Now, we fast forward to Jesus in Matthew chapter five. This is a very commonly misunderstood scripture. Jesus says to his disciples, I have not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. So a lot of people look at this and they say, oh, Jesus fulfilled the law. We don’t really have to worry about Leviticus 19. See, I can go get a tattoo. No problem, even as a follower of Jesus. What was Jesus actually saying? He was saying, I haven’t come to do away with the writings of the prophets and the law of Moses. I’ve come to fill it full, to give it the fullness of its meaning. Not to give a wrong interpretation of it, but to give a right interpretation of it. So where you have heard it read, you must love your neighbor. I’m telling you to also love your enemy. So when we understand that Jesus was a faithful Jewish man, we can know that he probably didn’t have a tattoo actually on his thigh and he won’t when he comes as John saw in revelation 19. Most scholars agree that this is most likely something that is an allegory to kings and rulers of the time who did have their names written on their tunics of their cloaks when they rode into battle.
So the bottom line is when we understand that Jesus was a faithful Jewish man and still is, he’s not going to come back with a tattoo on his body most likely. But it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a tattoo on your body at all. You just have to ask yourself, am I doing this for the right reason? Is this a reflection of my identity as a child of God? And if so, God accepts you and he loves you, and if you had a tattoo before you came to faith in Jesus, you’re still loved and accepted anyway. But this hopefully helps you understand who Jesus was and how you can answer that question about whether or not he had a tattoo.