Why the Cross?
Did you ever wonder why Yeshua died on the cross? Couldn’t He have died another way? John the Baptist was beheaded. Isaiah was sawed in half. Others were thrown to the lions. Why the cross? Let’s take a closer look. In fact, let’s go back to the beginning.
We find in the Garden of Eden that there were two trees that Adam and Eve could not eat from: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and The tree of Life (Genesis 2:9). Now, we know that Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and so did Adam, and because of this their eyes were opened. We see from the start that the tree played an important part in man’s future. We also see Moses making a serpent and placing it on a pole, or, more literally, something like a tree branch, to lift up so all would see and be saved (Numbers 21:8-9). Yeshua quotes this verse in John 3:14. Yeshua, speaking to Nicodemus about eternal life, makes reference to Moses lifting up the pole or tree branch: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes in Him should have eternal life.”
Again Yeshua indicates what kind of death He would die. In John 12:30-33 Yeshua said, “‘This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.”
Crucifixion was the popular method of death in Yeshua’s day. We see in John 18:30-32 that the Jews could not put anyone to death: “’If he were not a criminal,’ they replied, ‘we would not have handed him over to you.’ Pilate said, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.’ ‘But we have no right to execute anyone,’ they objected. This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.”
But there was one other reason why Yeshua died on the cross other than that it was the Romans’ choice of the day. Deuteronomy 21:23 tells us, “The body must not remain hanging from the tree overnight. You must bury the body that same day, for anyone who is hung is cursed in the sight of God. In this way, you will prevent the defilement of the land the LORD your God is giving you as your special possession.” Galatians 3:13 tells us “Messiah redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, ‘CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE’.”
So we see that from the beginning the tree was the object of sin and the object of redemption. Yeshua took upon Himself our sin and became a curse, or in other words, He who knew no sin became sin, and the wages of sin is death: total rejection by God; sentenced to hell; cursed and not blessed. So the story went like this, recorded by Luke in chapter 23:
“But they all cried out together, ‘Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas’—a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’ A third time he said to them, ‘Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.’ But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Yeshua over to their will. Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Yeshua said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’ It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Yeshua, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this He breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, the praised God, saying, ‘Certainly this man was innocent!’ And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.’ And they remembered his words” (Luke 24:1-8).
Revelation 22:1-4 tells us the end of the story. “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.”
God bless you as you remember our Messiah’s death and resurrection.