TATTOO: The Mark

TATTOO: The Mark

By Augusto A. Kho

Tropical Hut; Araneta Center; Cubao; Quezon City

November 29, 2018 (Thursday); 10:14 am

Updated: December 02, 2018 (Sunday); 9:01 a.m.


What mark in your life that reminds your most unbearable pain?



His forehead crumpled down when he caught me looking at his arms? The man seated on the next table in a popular Burger chain asked? “Do you also like tattoo?” I lightly wagged my head as a form of disagreement. “Can I ask you something?” I answered back. “Certainly!” he replied.


Our conversation with Mark, (not his real name) goes like this:

  • Me : Why do you love tattooing?

  • Him: I feel better.

  • Me : Feel better for what?

  • Him: I am being relieved

  • Me : You mean as a sign of relief

  • Him: Yes

  • Me : For what reason?

  • Him: When someone hurts me I tattooed myself to release the pain

  • Me : Really

  • Him: Sure

  • Me : Your tattoo on the back of your right arm, what does it mean?

  • Him: You mean this (showing the figure by his finger)?

  • Me : Yes

  • Him: The head is a rose. It smell very good but the stalk of the rose is thorny that can hurt you. The woman figured on this tattoo is seen bending down. She loves me but we have had it off just last September because she is already married.

  • Me : Does it hurts?

  • Him: Yes. It badly hurt me.

  • Me: Where you the one who designed your tattoo?

  • Him: Yes, I conceptualize them then tell to the one tattooing what he must do.

  • Me: How about the tattoo opposite your back arm, what does it mean?

  • Him: This is three-faced of a man.

  • Me: Which means?

  • Him: It speaks when he said happy, sad or in bad mood

  • Me : Who is he?

  • Him: The man I once loved in my life.

  • Me: Hugh! Why?

  • Him: It pained me when we separated ways.

  • Me: How about that tattoo on the back of your left palm?

  • Him: It speaks the hurt when I lost my favourite niece. She was 9 when she died recently.

  • Me : But tattooing yourself with all these will only refresh you the pain over and over again. At times you need to forget and look ahead. Can’t you do that?

  • Him: They are parts of my life. The pain goes away whenever I tattooed them.


And I found that strangely morbid.




Mark, a brown-skinned very muscular masculine man who stands 5’7 bore plenty of tattoos in his body. Many of his tattoos bear each a detailed story how much pain he have gone through in his life at age 27.



Tattoo Defined

Tattoo is a noun. It is an indelible mark or figure fixed upon the body by insertion of pigment under the skin or by production of scar (Webster). Or it is being defined as “to mark or colour (the skin) with tattoos.”



And this verse reminds me of the man’s tattoo that says in Isaiah 53:5And with his stripes we are healed.”


Stripes from Hebrew “chaburrah” (khab-boo-raw) means “bruise, stripe, wound, blow.” James Strong Definition : properly bound (with stripes) that is a weal (or black or blue mark itself); bruise, stripe, wound.


Similarly, I met a different person with marks on his body sometime on 1993. With me then was a Philippine National Police (PNP) named Gen. Jose Andaya. He was then gardening in a military barracks in Ilocos Norte when I first saw him. He was bare from his chest down exposing his well-chiselled muscular body. His denim short was stained with mud. He rose from his garden until we were ushered to a wooden table and chairs fronting his barracks and the conversation begun. He noticed me gazing the marks on his body. From there he started sharing each scar which has been transpired from his several police encounter. His name is Col. Romeo Maganto.




A tattooed Justice

There is a tattooed lady-justice I met recently. She joined us for the past three (3) days during the Bishops and Christian Leaders Conference called “Palawan 6” at Legend Hotel in Puerto Princesa, Palawan last November 26-28, 2018.

Former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Serene was ousted as Chief Justice through a very fatal blow which is called
qou warranto no less than by former Solicitor General Jose Calida.




A tattooed apostle

There is also this tattooed apostle whose name is Paul.


There is no other apostle like Paul who have suffered so much pain in his ardent desire to please Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:24 says, “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.” In Galatians 6:17b, Paul also said, “For I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”  The word “marks” in “stigma” (Greek) means “a mark pricked in or branded upon a body.”
To ancient oriental usage, slave and soldiers bore the name or the stamp of their master or commanded brand or pricked (cut) into their bodies to indicate what master or general they belonged to. It is originally called “
stizo in Greek i.e. “to stick” or “to prick.” For James Strong he define is as “ a punch or mark of recognition of ownership.” It means only when you have a mark of pain and suffering for the cause of Christ that makes you a real Christian. Other than that, you are a mere spectator or talkie-Christian perhaps.


If you have not been fatally blown or stricken that left a branded “stigmata” or mark on you for the cause of Christ then the Lord cannot take ownership of your life yet. Being a “soldier of Christ” you must bear the wound of pain and suffering (2 Timothy 2:3). No soldier is without a battle. And there will be no battle without a wound that bore your suffering.



A tattooed drug-user

I still bear some marks of being a former drug-user. I still have this deep scar on my left hand of cigarette burns and some self-inflicted slashes on my left arm when I have tried several times to commit suicide. Those are marks of my paranoia-tendency and empty life.




I have known pain in my life. We need to outgrow pain at times. Pain can make us stronger and make us grow if we let it do its work. Ministry with the Lord is always associated with pain.


The word “pain” came to me once at 2:30 am, August 12, 2012. “Only those who are alive can feel pain. If you cannot feel the pain of others, then you are dead – physically or spiritually.”



A Singaporean writer, David F. Wong once wrote, “Pain brings tears. Pain makes us human and the opposite of pain is power. Power makes us forget that we are human. We think we are gods. Pain reminds us as human… Pain can make us a better person or a bitter person… the passing of pain comes with the release of forgiveness.”


Pain is life-indicator. The dead doesn’t feel pain. Only those who are alive can feel the pain. As long there is pain, you know you are alive.


Pain is a warning-device that there is something wrong out there writes Dr. Bland who specializes in pain-management. Pain will tell us there is something very, very terribly wrong and that we must find cure.


Tolerance to pain gives us a reason to persevere and to endure in order to find survival.


Dr. Victor Frankl, a Jewish psychoanalyst who lost his wife and two daughters during the Holocaust wrote a book entitled, “Meaning of Suffering”. He wrote that there should be meaning in suffering. And you cannot endure suffering without pain.


Even Christ is acquainted with pain (Isaiah 53:3-11).


Christ’s disciple, Peter described it as “stripes”. He said, “By whose stripes ye were healed,” (1 Peter 2:24). Stripes in Greek “molops” means “a bruise, a wale, wound that trickles with blood.”


According to Webster, a wale (noun) is a streak or ridge made on the skin especially by the stroke of whip.


Christ bears a wale when he chose to love us. Prophet Isaiah described that bruise clearly well when he said, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities,” (Isaiah 53:5a).


The word “wounded” in Hebrew “chalal:” (khaw-lal) means “to profane (sexually defiled or polluted or prostituted) oneself” or “to violate one’s honour (treated as commoner).”


Meanwhile Strong called it “molos” in Greek meaning “a black eye” or “mole on the face.” (1 Peter 2:24).


We cannot be human without pain. So we must bear with pain each day.


Our speaker, Dr. Ronald R. Howard, ACE SOT Founder said in Bacolod on May 7, 2007, “God did put pain nerves in our bodies to protect us. Pain is designed to protect us from that which would harm us.”



Pain and trials are real. How to face them are quite different. God allows us to see through the suffering. And it is not without meaning but produce character and hope (2 Cor. 2:4),” says Erwin Mc Manus.



I said to Mark that we are both artists. His eyes goggled in surprise. I said: “You write your stories through your tattoos where I write mine in another medium.” He asked me whether I am an artist too and I said “Yes!”


Then I told him this : “I can write a story of pain through literature. I use media as a medium like website if not by print. “ While Mark uses his own brightest idea unaware of his gift (Although I am not promoting tattooing. Tattooing is forbidden to the Jewish culture and it is form of Baal-worship (Leviticus 19:28; 1 Kings 18:28).



The vast nature for example like the heavens is God’s most splendid and largest life-canvass of God’s myriad of imaginative mind. In Psalm 19:1, it says: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” God’s vast creation tattooed His tremendous power and glory.




Have you heard the song of Elton John entitled, “Starry, starry night?”


I tell you the story. Vincent is the younger brother of Theo. His father is a missionary. Vincent finished a degree of Theology and he has a great passion as well for painting. He used his painting to illustrate life-disparity due to human greed. For him, evangelism is not limited alone through preaching by also through visual arts. His canvasses can be seen along Seine River, in Paris, France where struggling painters put their paintings on display. I’ve personally seen the place myself in 1985.


Vincent’s painting speaks of social justice like what Christ preaches when He read the book of Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:18. Christ is not merely a Saviour or Lord Christ, He too is a social-reformer like Vincent.


Vincent was persecuted and excommunicated by his fellow colleagues and Christians until he developed mental breakdown and depression. One among his famous painting is “Starry, Starry Night” with Church on the background. He later died. Others said it is an attempted suicide. Others said it is a murder.


After Vincent’s death, someone find his letter addressed to his older brother Theo (means “God”). It read this way:

“I did not have to go out of my way very much in order to try to express sadness and extreme loneliness … these canvases will tell you what I cannot say in words…”



Vincent experienced to be broken. He had a fellowship with pain. Was it faith to God that brought misery to his life?

What is Vincent’s real name?

His name is
Vincent van Gogh, the great known painter. His pain is written thorough his canvasses. My writing can be a form of canvass as well. It paints a picture of who am I, my fears and my aspirations.


And where have you written your pain by the way? Where I have written mine as well? Is it written in our sub-consciousness of self-denial, despair, unforgiving, rage and hate? Or we deal pain in over-eating or over-spending if not over-reacting?





Fellowship is a friendly relation among people (who share interests or feelings). It also means companionship, company or association (Webster).

There is a saying, “
Show me the people whom you are with and I will tell who you are.” The same quote sounds similar with “Birds of the same feathers, flock together.”



I have a church-member whose very small business was just 8-meter wide and 12 –meter long whose building is nearly dilapidated. I have ministered and fellowship with her and her children for 12 years while her husband works overseas. I was with them during her hardest time. Her business gone very well until she left to US to joined her husband bringing her all kids with her. Whenever they would come back here in the Philippines, they would rather visit and fellowship instead with the rich and the popular. I often times hear she and her children have left the country without seeing them. When her two grown-up daughters once strolled down along Recto Avenue they quickly hid themselves when Isaac my son spotted them accidently while they were on a brief vacation. That is fellowship. Others will fellowship with the rich and the popular but not to the person who pastured and laboured for them for year.



Another one was a young pastor who came from an average income family. Whenever he goes out for mission, he asked our blessings and prayers. He finally left his own denomination and took their blessing and joined us for nearly 15 years. The church groomed him to venture into business. He did well! And earned million using church strategies and connections. He and his family stopped fellowshipping with our church when he built his “mansion-like” residence and he is now fellowshipping with the country’s elite, mega-church.


Paul warned us this last day against ungrateful if not user-people (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Sometimes I feel like I am being used and abused as well that pained me enough that I feel I am worthless and rejected, if not taken for granted. ‘


Fellowship in Christ

Many Christian bishops, leaders or churches flaunt their mega-churches or flashy cars signifying the “blessing of the Lord” but few joined Christ in the “fellowship of His suffering” or “flaunt his poverty because of following Christ.


From the root word: “chabar” (khaw-bar)” the word stripes” in Isaiah 53:5 means “have fellowship with, compacted, be joined, bind together.”


To fellowship with the suffering of Christ unto His death is well-illustrated by Paul in his life journey when he said this:


That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; “ – Philippians 3:10.




Healing from pain

Healing comes from pain. If you cannot fellowship with the hurts, pain and suffering of Christ then there will be no healing. The fatal mark or blows of suffering will bring healing as well as it says in Isaiah 53:6: It is also mentioned in 1 Peter 2:24, “by whose stripes ye were healed.”


In Isaiah 53:4-5, “ Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem

him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was

bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we

are healed.


While Peter speaks of healing in Greek “iaomai” which means “to make you whole(i.e. free from

errors and sins and to bring about salvation),” the prophet, Isaiah, spoke of healing in Hebrew

raphah” as “cure” or “mend” which is a verb, an action word. But Rapha is also a noun which is

interpreted as “physician” thus making God, the Jehovah-Rophe.




Fellowship and the Breaking of Bread

Fellowship with Christians and the Breaking of Bread must have a deeper meaning.



The Acts of the Apostles spoke of four (4) major ministries in Acts 2:42 that says, “And they

continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in



And that is apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers.


1 Peter 2:24, “by whose stripes ye were healed.” Healed in Greek “iaomai” means “to cure, to, bruise, wound, blow” means “make whole, to be free from error and sins to bring into salvation.” Meanwhile stripes (bruise, wound, blow, hurt),” in Isaiah 53:5 in Hebrew “chaburah” (Kajb-boo-raw) in Hebrew root word, “chabar” also means “to unite, be joined, bind together” or “have fellowship with


When Jesus Christ at the Garden of Gethsemane said, “This is my (broken) Body” (Matthew 26:26) is like literally saying that it was “This is my bruised-fellowship bodyTAKE, EAT, THIS IS MY BODY.”


Only when you have the “mark of Christ “ in the “fellowship of His suffering” that you can obtain healing. Without that scar of suffering of Christ then we will not bear His name as the “Broken Bread.”






  • Ungrateful, user. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. “

  • Tatttoing. Leviticus 19:28, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD. “ Mark or “incision, imprintment, tattoo,” in Hebrew word, “qa’aqa” (kah-ak-ah) is a Babylonian culture is a form of Baalworship in (1 Kings 18:28)