The Cross

Steven Bouma-Prediger

Read: John 19:1-25

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree. (1 Peter 2:24)

The story of the Passion is soaked in blood. Jesus is flogged, a crown of thorns is pressed into his head, he is repeatedly hit in the face, he is demeaned and humiliated, and then he is put to death by the cruelest means of capital punishment, at a place called The Skull.

Sometimes lost in this horrific story is the image of Jesus with a tree on his back. The cross was a tree. And though Matthew, Mark, and Luke mention that Simon of Cyrene was compelled to relieve Jesus of the cross near the end, John notes that Jesus carried it by himself.

Trees have been used in many ways in human history, both for good and for ill. As farm tools to grow and harvest food. As planks on disaster relief boats. As the source of life-saving medicines. But also as battering rams to lay siege to medieval cities. As sailing masts for colonial slave ships. As paper for propaganda to fuel the fires of ethnic cleansing.

The cross was a tree. Intended as a means of torture and death, God used this tree for salvation and renewal. God took what was death-dealing and made of it a means to new life. —Steven Bouma-Prediger

Prayer: Crucified Lord, help us remember how you, to make right our crooked ways and put to right all the world, died on a tree.