The Cross-God's Eternal Plan for Man's Redemption
To even approach an answer to this question, one must survey the entire scope of Scripture-from Genesis to Revelations, in order to determine the "why" of the cross. Jesus said in Luke 24:25-27,
Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that
the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these
things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all
the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things
This includes the New Testament authors, who reiterated what "The Law and the Prophets" spoke in context to Jesus's crucifixion. In Rev. 13:8 it says,
in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the
So, in order to view the event of the crucifixion in perspective, we must go beyond seeing an event occuring during the 1st Century and see it in the timeless dimensions of eternity, where all creation worships the Lamb,(Rev. 5:8-9)
And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty
elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and
golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9 And
they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to
open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to
God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and
Passover-Christ's Fulfillment of the Law
The Lamb, the Main Dish of the Passover, was the means by which Israel's Redemption was fulfilled, (Ex. 12:3)
In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a
lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year:
And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month:
and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in
the evening. 7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the
two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they
shall eat it.
And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye
are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague
shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
Jesus states in all the Synoptic Gospels(Matt., Mark, Luke) that He desires to eat this Passover with His disciples(Matt. 26:18)
I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.
Where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?(Mk. 14:14)
With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I
Therefore, it is no gloss or mistake that the Passover that Christ ate with His disciples was indeed the Passover, since He is the fulfillment of the Passover, it was as He said.
For anyone who has celebrated Passover/Seder(in my explanation they are synonymous) 2 elements(among others) are present: wine and unleavened bread(matzah).
Of both are blessings given; and the middle of 3 matzah which is wrapped, is broken, and distibuted to the guests in attendance. Of this matzah, Jesus said,(Matt. 26:26)
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake
it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my
He then(vs 28)
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,
Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament,
which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
An important part of any Passover/Seder celebration is the recording of God's Mercy. It's not enough to merely record the events of the deliverance from Egypt, but to acknowledge the mercies of God from everlasting to everlasting,
Thus it is our duty to thank, to laud, to praise, to glorify, to
exalt, to adore, to bless, to elevate and to honor the One who did all
these miracles for our fathers and for us. He took us from slavery to
freedom, from sorrow to joy, and from mourning to festivity, and from
deep darkness to great light and from bondage to redemption. Let us
therefore recite before Him Halleluyah, Praise G‑d!(From here)
This mercy was extended towards man at the dawn of creation, when in the Garden of Eden. God's commandment to man was,(Gen. 2:17)
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat
of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Yet in Gen. 3:21,
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins,
and clothed them.
Of certainty then, man did not physically perish the day he sinned; rather, God made skins to cloth man, an extension of mercy towards man, in spite of his sin. The sacrifice(required of the animals of who's skins were used) is a type of sacrifice that God Himself would make on behalf of mankind, in the person of Christ, the spotless lamb.
The Crucifixion: Foretold from Genesis Throughout the Old Testament
Every detail of the crucifixion was foretold from the beginning of time, and numerous details were prophesied well in advance of the event.
Isa. 53:5 describes the chastisement He endured,
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our
iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his
stripes we are healed.
In vs 9 it describes Joseph of Arimathea's(a wealthy Jew) grave.
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death.
Vs. 12 talks about the 2 thieves with Him,
and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of
many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Perhaps the Psalms of David, who came before Isaiah explain even more clearly the suffering Christ went through: Ps. 22:16-18 says,
they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they
look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast
lots upon my vesture.
But what is even more important is the eternal aspect; which accomplished man's redemption. Jesus said in Luke 22:53 in addressing those that arrested Him,
When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands
against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
Satan, who was the 'serpent' from Gen. 3, was orchestrating the events; being brought before Pilate and Herod, being made to suffer death by crucifixion-the worst death imaginable, one which the Roman's used to make an example out of.
But herein lies the reason for the 2 thieves, and the reason that Christ was crucified in their midst.
Reason for the 2 Thieves
In the Garden of Eden, God makes an amazing statement to the serpent (Gen 3:13-14)
And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this,
thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field;
upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of
thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and
between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou
shalt bruise his heel.
In vs 14, He addresses the serpent, announcing that it is cursed above all other animals, but in vs 15, He addresses Satan, the archenemy and villain who 'spoke' through the serpent, tempting Eve and ultimately Adam to sin.
He put emnity between he and the woman: at this time Satan was the 'unofficial' winner of the exchange; he now had both Adam and Eve fall from grace and be "co-conspirators' in his rebellion against God.(Eph. 2:2-3)
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world,
according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now
worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had
our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling
the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the
children of wrath, even as others.
But here's where the Plan of Salvation has it's beginning, "...I will put emnity between you(Satan), and the "woman". הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה(ha-issah), which is not just "Eve" but "THE Woman". Eve fell to temptation, but this "woman" would rise up against temptation. This "woman" can be found throughout scripture; though in numerous instances she can exemplify evil, in other examples she exemplifies faith. In 1 Sam. 1:26, הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה(ha-issah) prays before the Lord to have a son. Her name is Hannah, yet it is "ha-issah" that prays.
In the New Testament, this "woman" appears again; in John 2:4 Jesus says,
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is
not yet come.
The word "γύναι"(gune), rather than "mother" is used, which unless Jesus had some very appropriate reason to use, would be inappropriate. The same word is used in the genitive sense in Rev. 12:4, which is "the" woman who gives birth to the man-child-Jesus.
The next part of God's statement to Satan is "...between your 'seed' and her seed".
Interestingly, the seed is in the man(Adam); but God is talking about the "woman's seed", which means there is a "specific seed" of which God is refering to. Since it is God who is putting emnity, his Father is God, and "Christ", the man-child is the woman's seed, singular. A further discussion of seed-singular can be found here.
The most telling description of the crucifixion is,"...it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."
Since the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil" was the point of contact with Satan, for man to once again "live", a replacement had to be made for him. Someone had to substitute themselves for Adam and Eve, who fell from grace, and were now in Satan's clutches, and take the punishment of death, required by God's commandment. Since by a tree, man died; it would be by a tree that man would live.
That "tree", the Tree of Life, was Christ, who was raised up on a cross, just as Moses raised up the Bronze Serpent(Num 21:9), so would Christ be raised up for all men for all times. The heel that was "bruised" was the means by which Christ was fastened to the Tree; as the feet is nailed to the block that holds the feet(some hold that the heel itself was nailed but proof is not conclusive). What makes the crucifixion all the more agonizing is the "nail" becames the heel-the point at which the body is held. The word "יְשׁוּפְךָ֣(yusepeka) is a derivative of "shuph", which BDB defines as "rub off, away, grind" which a heel against a cross would do if the feet were nailed to it. The person being crucified most usually died from not aspirating, since as the lungs filled with fluid being accumulated, one would have to "push up" on the feet being nailed to aspirate(source Wikipedia). Of course the pain was excruciating, and when the 2 thieves who outlived Christ were finally killed, it was through having their legs broken, which also prevented them from aspirating.(John 19:32)
What is amazing is the Hebrew version of Gen. 3:15,
וְאֵיבָ֣ה ׀ אָשִׁ֗ית בֵּֽינְךָ֙ וּבֵ֣ין הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה וּבֵ֥ין זַרְעֲךָ֖
וּבֵ֣ין זַרְעָ֑הּ ה֚וּא יְשׁוּפְךָ֣ רֹ֔אשׁ וְאַתָּ֖ה תְּשׁוּפֶ֥נּוּ
עָקֵֽב׃ ס(Westminster Leningrad Codex), which is interpreted as,
"And emnity I will put between and Between you and the woman and between her offspring and your offspring he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel."
Christ(the woman's seed) in each instance stands between Satan's offspring and the woman's offspring(those of the same seed as the woman). The whole of mankind descended from Adam and Eve, who rightfully deserved death, just as the 2 thieves did. Christ was nailed to the cross, predicting the death He would suffer and stands between the "woman's seed" and Satan's seed. Both thieves could have had redemption; one chose repentance and faith, the other continued to blaspheme. Luke 23:33,
And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there
they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and
the other on the left.
And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If
thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering
rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the
same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due
reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he
said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou
be with me in paradise.
Both thieves had the choice: one chose to be "of the woman's seed", the other chose to "grind(bruise)" Him with his words, until the end. The one thief was at emnity with the other, which was foretold from the Garden of Eden to Satan.
There are many proofs which verify this, some of which are:
Matt. 25:33, the sheep are at the right hand, the goats on the left.
Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other
left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be
taken, and the other left.
The 2 thieves crucified with Christ were predicted from Gen. 3:15; which signified the type of death He would undergo and more important, why He needed to undergo crucifixion. The image of Christ being crucified between 2 thieves is indelibly etched in the conscience of all humanity, as it was foretold from the beginning of time He would stand between the children of God, and the children of Satan.