LUBBOCK — A billboard and corresponding video portraying Jesus as a tattoo artist who takes the negative markings of mankind upon Himself are sparking controversy.
The effort, launched by an unnamed “small group of people humbled by the love of Jesus,” was recently unveiled along a highway in West Lubbock, Texas. The billboard simply shows a man depicting Jesus, whose chest and arms are covered with tattoos bearing words such as “outcast,” “addicted,” and “faithless.” The advertisement then directs members of the public to a website, which in addition to providing information about Christ, presents a video casting Jesus as a modern-day tattoo artist who transforms bad labels into good ones.
The video begins as a long-haired Jesus is awakened by his alarm clock and heads to his basement tattoo parlor where he awaits those in need of his service. A man soon arrives and sits in the chair, rolling up his sleeve to reveal the word “depressed” on his wrist. Jesus then reaches for his instruments, and goes to work at transforming the tattoo. The man looks down at his wrist and notices that his tattoo no longer reads “depressed,” but “confident.” He rises from the chair, gives Jesus a nod, and walks out the door.
The video then proceeds to show numerous other individuals coming to Jesus and revealing their tattoos, which bear words such as “addicted,” “self-righteous” or “useless.” He then changes their tattoos to read “freedom,” “humble” and “purpose.”
As he finishes with his last patron, he appears overwhelmed. Moments later, he takes off his shirt to reveal that all of the tattoos that had been upon the people are now written upon himself.
“All of us have been marked,” the narrator then states. “As time passes, life leaves its etchings on our mind, our body, even our soul. These markings define us, our place in society, [and] how we perceive ourselves, and as hard as we try, we can never seem to find a way to cover these marks and hide them from those who judge us.”
“One man proclaimed a revolutionary message of love and forgiveness, hope and freedom,” he continues. “He was beaten and bloodied and killed for us, and took the markings that should have been ours upon Himself, so that we could find forgiveness and a new start.”
Reaction to the effort has been mixed, as some find it to be an inappropriate or blasphemous depiction of Christ, while others believe that it is an effective evangelistic tool.
“I thought that it was cleverly done because, basically, it’s a visual of Jesus taking the sins of people and covering them and taking them from an outcast or something and giving them a new start, which is what the Gospel is about,” Pastor David Wilson of Southcrest Baptist Church in Lubbock told ABC News. “I like to fish, and I use different baits for different fish, and to me this is fishing for people who would never walk in the door of a church.”
“Utterly detestable,” Pastor Mark Herridge of Pentecostal Lighthouse Church in Livingston told Christian News Network. “Tattoos have always been associated with paganism. To lift them up as an evangelistic tool is to completely miss the point of why Jesus saved us.”
“All of us have scars from our past, but we do not glorify our past. We glorify the living Christ that has set us free from sin and death,” he continued. “Man was created in God’s image, but as I watched this video, I see where man is trying to create God in His own image instead.”