Biblical Significance of a Wooden Cross
When we hear the word “tree” in the bible, the Jews refers to the cross of Christ because wood comes from the tree.
In article that Fr. Stan Smolenski wrote in the National Catholic Register entitled “Kingstree, SC: A Privileged Name for a Privileged Place”, he noted four (4) biblical accounts of the use of the word “tree” to refer to the cross of Christ.
(1) Acts 5:30 gives the apostle Peter’s reply to the high priest, “The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.”
(2) Peter says something similar when speaking to Cornelius in Acts 10:39: “They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.”
(3) Paul the Apostle uses the same terms in Antioch: “And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb”
(4) (Acts 13:29). Paul makes the same reference in Galatians 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree.’”
God chose wood as important element in our salvation history. We lost paradise through the “forbidden tree” and gained heaven through the “tree of life”.
The devil conquered Adam and Eve, with the fruit of the forbidden tree while the New Adam and the New Eve conquered the devil with the Cross, the fruit of the tree of life.
The fruit of the forbidden tree is the apple, which became the source of the great temptation. The fruit of the tree of life is the cross, where Jesus died, which became the source of our redemption.
While Eve stood beside Adam in the fall of mankind, our Blessed Mother, stood with the “King” in Calvary as the Queen of all creation. “Rejoice, O Sorrowful Mother; after your great sufferings, you shine forth as Queen enthroned beside your Son.” (Canticle of Zechariah)
Thus, wood is not just an ordinary material. If one meditates on this, one can find that there is a significant reason why we need to use “wood” in the crosses that we used as a sacramental. It is biblical. And, wood has a huge part in our salvation. God did not use wood as an accident. Wood is part of the Divine story of our salvation.
If we meditate deeper on this truth, the devil knows that he can be defeated. For the true power of the cross, when used with faith, can conquer evil like how St. Benedict used the sign of the cross to heal the afflicted.