Here is the book excerpt I read at our most recent gathering.
Did it matter how the promised Savior died? Why a cross?
After all, Jesus was accused by the religious establishment of heresy. And heretics were customarily stoned. In fact, the fledgling Church’s very first martyr, Stephen, was stoned by an enraged mob for speaking what they believed were heresies—even as a man from Tarsus named Saul looked on approvingly. Why wasn’t Jesus stoned?
Jesus, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” was the living fulfillment of all the types and shadows embodied by the Passover lamb. The tens of thousands of Passover lambs being sacrificed over on the Temple mount the day Jesus was cruciified died by the knife of a Levitical priest. Had Jesus similarly been run through with a Roman sword, would His shed blood have been just as efficacious?
As Neuhaus suggested, our explorations of the cross are only “probings into mystery.” But the Bible gives us clues and insights into this—the greatest and most terrible of all mysteries.
First, the Word of God makes it clear that the shedding of the Messiah’s innocent blood was a vital aspect of His sacrifice. And the Roman process of crucifixion was an appallingly bloody affair. As the writer of Hebrews declares, “without the shedding of blood there is no remission” of sin. On the eve of His death, Jesus Himself pointed symbolically to a cup of wine and said, “For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
Yes, the role of Jesus’ shed blood cannot be over-emphasized. However, the mission of Jesus . . . the reason He left Heaven’s splendor and became the Last Adam . . . was to roll back the curse that descended upon all mankind, indeed upon all the Earth, when the First Adam fell.
That fall happened at a tree—the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And for reasons we may not fully understand this side of Glory, there is something significant about a death on a tree that points back to that fall and the resultant curse. In Deuteronomy 21:22-23 we find:
“Now if a person has committed a sin carrying a sentence of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body is not to be left overnight on the tree, but you shall certainly bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is cursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
The Jews of Jesus day were very attuned to the implications of this passage. They viewed crucifixion as the worst fate that could befall any Jew. Such a person was under a curse and irredeemable. But it was the Apostle Paul who, by divine inspiration and revelation, grasped the full curse-repealing implications of death on a tree. He had those implications in mind when he penned Galatians 3:13: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”
Yes, the shedding of that blood—a blood utterly untainted by the stain of sin—was essential to effect a redemption that could pass legal muster in the Court of Heaven. But a sacrificial death that would once-and-for-all-time roll back the curse had to be a death on a tree. There had to be thorns at that tree because thorns were a God-declared outcome of of that curse’s unfolding. It had to be a naked and shameful death because the very first indicator that Adam and Eve had fallen under sin’s power was their shame-filled realization of their nakedness.
There was no other possible death for that “Seed” promised to Eve. The One whose heel the serpent would bruise (and oh, how it was bruised!) The One who, in His victory over Death, would crush the head of that Serpent of old and make all things new.
It had to be a cross.
 John 1:29
 Hebrews 9:22
 Matthew 26:28
 Genesis 3:17,18
 The Cross, Rod Parsley (2013)