by Donna Fareno
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The focus of this chapter will be Calvary's cross. Instead of dealing with what transpired that day, here we'll focus on the object itself, the cross. While its symbolism is often missed, the actual cross itself has great significance so we'll take a closer look. Calvary's cross is often referred to as Calvary's tree. It was made of wood from two trees. The vertical piece of the cross is believed by some to have been an actual tree rooted in Calvary's hill.* Either way, both the vertical beam/tree and horizontal crossbeam were wood and came from two trees.
I see these two pieces of wood as representing two different trees. The trees they represent I believe are the two specific trees named in the Garden of Eden, the one being the Tree of Life, the other being the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The fruit of these trees if consumed would lead down completely opposite pathways, one toward life eternal, the other leading to certain death. So each of the beams from Calvary's Cross represent each of the two opposing trees from Eden and their subsequent pathways. At Calvary these two wooden beams were intersected perpendicularly (in opposite directions) forming a cross. The symbolism is that the cross represents an intersection of the pathway leading to death with the pathway leading to life eternal. Jesus commanded us to repent - Metanoya - to change directions. The only way to do so is if somewhere along the path we were on there was an intersection. Calvary was the place where our path leading to death was intersected by a path that leads to eternal life. All we must do is change directions.
If you recall the horizontal crossbeam was the "tree" that was a "heavy burden" for Jesus and is also what caused him to "fall". It is clearly a picture of how the tree of knowledge of good and evil effected mankind. The other part of the cross - its "upright" tree represents the Tree of Life, though planted in the earth this "tree" ascends heavenward. So Calvary's cross is the intersection of the wood from two trees in opposite directions and represents the intersection of two trees from Eden that led in opposite directions.
The Bible tells us that we should judge a tree by its fruit. That is what we'll attempt to do here judging Calvary's tree by the fruit it bore. Of course by "fruit" we mean Jesus who was suspended from Calvary's tree like a fruit. If indeed Calvary's tree was the intersection of opposites as we've claimed, then Calvary's fruit should also be the intersection of opposites proving exactly what kind of tree it is. The following list while not exhaustive should suffice.
The fruit of Calvary’s tree was both:
Man and God
Mortal and Immortal
Master and Servant
Lion and Lamb
High Priest and sacrificial Lamb
Good Shepherd and "a Sheep before His shearers"
Alpha and Omega (beginning and end)
Foundation Stone and Stumbling Stone
Smiting Stone and Smitten Stone
Creator and Creature
Sinless and the sin of the world
Jesus being the intersection of opposites hung on a tree that was also an intersection of opposites and intersected the path we were stranded on with a path that leads us back to where we belong.
It amazes me what this humble Carpenter was able to do with a couple of trees!
* I personally believe that the vertical piece of Calvary’s tree was indeed an actual tree growing on Calvary’s hill. This would be more in keeping with the idea that it represents the Tree of Life in that it would have been a living tree. It would also serve as a starker contrast with the crossbeam which we know was not a living tree but was dead having been “cut off” from another tree. This belief would also be in keeping with the idea that Calvary’s tree was an intersection of opposites by being made up of both living and dead wood.
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