My wife is an excellent artist. This weekend’s visit to her Dad’s garden brought out the drawing pencils.

Most drawing in the Bible is connected with water, swords and bows – not pencils and paper. But there is one place where God is revealed as an artist.

Isaiah 49 is the chapter. God is keen that His people be not dispirited. They are going through tough times (largely of their own making) and reaping some of God’s (loving) discipline. When we suffer a common question is, “Has God forgotten me? Can’t He see my pain?”

But God reassures them. He is the God of comfort and compassion (v13). He cannot forget the Israelites any more than a mother can, “forget the baby at her breast”, v15 (even if the mother does forget, the pain of the milk coming in will remind her soon enough!). And to what extent will God go? He declares,

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;” (Isaiah 49:16 NIV11-GK)

Effectively they are tattooed on God’s ‘flesh’. Strictly speaking this was not allowed (Lev 19.28), but perhaps we should not press the anthropomorphisms too far. The Creator is at pains to convince His creation that we are loved, valued and remembered. What do we see years later? The enfleshed creator (Jesus) offering his hands for crucifixion. The marks on his hands remained after resurrection, and remain even now in heaven. What function do they perform?

I reckon they are for us, not for God. Jesus does not have to look at the wounds to remind him of us, his children. But they are there to remind us he always pays attention, always hears our prayers, and always intercedes for us (Heb 7.25).

Jesus the artist ‘drew’ the nail marks on his hands, and we celebrate that art.

Malcolm Cox