In many ways we have lost our Judeo-Christian heritage because, first of all, we don’t understand the Old Testament and, therefore, don’t see the divine connections to the New. That’s the purpose of Bible teachers, so allow me to make draw those lines for you as we focus on the Cross of Christ.
My first question was, “Why a cross?” As I traveled back into the scriptures I found the first mention of a cross in Dt. 21:22-23a.
And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God.
This is an obvious foreshadow of the Cross of Messiah (Christ): a hanged man is cursed. Notice the process of the death penalty; he was killed first (usually by strangulation), hung on the tree, and finally buried the same day. Why the hanging if he was already dead? It was a Jewish law, given by God through Moses, to intensify the judgment of death and bring disgrace and shame. Jews never executed men on a tree as a punishment, but as a sign.
Peter reminds us of this sign, an upright stake in the ground, with a curse attached to it and connects Jesus to our sin nature.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, … 1 Peter 2:24a
Paul mentioned this curse five times in Gal. 3, reminding us that the Cross of Christ brings us the promised Holy Spirit. What is this curse and how is it tied to the Spirit of Christ? The Greek word for curse indicates a declaration of condemnation brought down from God; the result was bondage, slavery, and powerlessness: the opposite of blessing.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. Gal. 3:13-14
Let me connect the dots. Jesus came down from His throne to become the proclamation of a curse from His Father due to our sin nature. Without Jesus we’re in bondage to that fallen nature, destined to slavery, and rendered powerless to get free. When we come to faith the Holy Spirit loosens the chains and sets us free. We live in righteousness and blessings, not curses, because of the Cross of Christ.
For our sake He (God) made Him (Jesus) to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in Him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor. 5:21
The cross is the sign that reminds us of the shame and disgrace of sin but also the freedom we have in Him.