In the first century, people and animals could have the owner’s brand burned into their flesh. The apostle Paul used the practice to teach the futility of circumcision in qualifying a person as God’s child. Paul experienced the brand of Jesus on his body, Galatians 6:17. II Corinthians 11:22ff mentions some: three beatings, one stoning, five floggings, three shipwrecks, and one 24 hour period adrift at sea. And none of them included the mental and spiritual stress suffered as an apostle of Christ starting and pastoring churches.
These references could have been the marks of Jesus on Paul. We know for sure, however, what the marks were NOT. They were NOT the tattoos so popular today. Paul observed the Bible injunction against putting tattoos on the body Leviticus 19:28. Precisely because ancient pagans marked themselves with symbols of their deities. Hebrew faith, and Christian faith after it, distinguished Christians from unbelievers by the impact of God’s Spirit on their mind and heart.
The Spirit marks prove that the Christian faith is both Doctrinally pure—what we believe; and Practically persuasive—what we personally live I Timothy 4:16. Too many disciples believe it doesn’t matter what they believe about Jesus so long as their life honors Christ. Understand, however: God put both doctrine and life in equilibrium and didn’t give us the right to upset that balance.
When in balance, doctrine and life will build in us: the grace of Astaire and Rogers exchanging dance steps; the eloquence of Coleman and Garson exchanging dialogue; the passion of Bogart and Bacall exchanging glances.
End Part I