The wood of the cross recalls the tree of life in the Garden of Eden and the tree of life in the Book of Revelation.
In the Act of the Apostles, the disciples of Jesus refer to the wood of the cross that Jesus hung on as a “tree.”
And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a tomb.Acts 13:29
Why is it important that Jesus’ cross be referred to as a “tree”?
Trees are featured throughout the Bible, but in particular, there are two very important trees that are related to the cross of Jesus.
Tree of Life in Eden
In the Garden of Eden, there are two trees, one that gave life, and the other called the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.Genesis 2:8-9
These trees were designed for the benefit of humans, and were part of the original paradise.
Tree of Life in Revelation
While Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden of Eden, through Jesus Christ the gates of Heaven are opened and there is located another tree of life.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.Revelation 2:7
The Cross as the Tree of Life
The Church has interpreted from the very beginning that Jesus’ cross is that “tree of life” for us in the present moment, from which we will eat the fruit of everlasting life.
St. John Paul II mentioned this teaching briefly in an Angelus message in 2002.
[T]he Church presents the Cross to the world as “the tree of life,” from which one can receive the ultimate and full meaning of every single existence and of the whole of human history.
As we look upon the crucifix, let us see in it the “tree of life,” and strive to draw closer to this tree, that we may be brought into eternal life.