1 Peter2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (ESV)
Around 50% of English translations of 1 Peter 2:24 translate the word for “tree” as “cross”. Translating xulon as both tree and cross is acceptable at face value; however, I wonder if Peter was intentionally trying to reference the cross as a tree. If Peter wanted only to mean the cross, he would have used the Greek word for cross, “stauros”.
I imagine Peter is referencing Deut 21:22-23 which says,
“If a man has committed a sinworthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.”
I wonder if there is more to the meaning of the tree in this passage. In the Garden of Eden there were two trees of focus, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. Because of Adam and Eve’s distrust in God’s goodness, they disobeyed and ate from the forbidden tree. They were banished from the garden and lost access to the tree of life. Adam and Eve, you and I, have been driven out of the garden of the LORD (Gen 3).
The original sin was fundamentally a breakdown of trust, a breakdown of relationship. Their relationship - our relationship - to God, to others and to Creation, has been broken by sin. We can witness this brokenness every day. We see the effects everywhere.
Humanity became cursed because of one tree and dies because lack of access to the other tree. But this is not intended to last forever. Instead, God became flesh and bore our sins in His body on one tree, so that humanity could once again have access to the other tree, the tree of life.
Our healing comes in His wounds. His blood cries out from the ground, “Father, forgive them, they not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). In the restoration of relationship through His finished work on a tree, we will have access to the everlasting tree.
“Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Rev 22:1-2)