What was the big deal about Jesus being crucified that in 1 Corinthians 1:23 Paul said that is what he preached? It seems he should have said “but we preach Christ” risen from the dead. Wouldn’t it have been the same if they stoned him or killed Jesus with a sword?
You are right that a major message of Paul was not just that Jesus died but that he was “crucified”. He should have been stoned. At his trial he was convicted of blasphemy (Matthew 26:65) and Scripture clearly teaches a blasphemer should be stoned (Leviticus 24:16). But prophetically God’s plan was for Jesus to be “hung on a tree”. We gain understanding in to why this is important from a seemingly insignificant verse in the Old Testament law about anyone who is hanged – which was not a common method of execution so this statement is even more unusual. … “anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse.” Deuteronomy 21:23
It was not enough that Jesus simply die for us but He also had to die a “cursed” death to take our curse (and the curse upon the earth and nature that resulted when man fell). Notice too that the curse upon the ground caused it to produce “thorns” – Genesis 3:18. It was no coincidence that he was crowned with “thorns”. Again, he took the curse, and the fruit of the curse upon Himself. So why was Paul’s message “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”?
The fact that Jesus was crucified speaks clearly that He took the curse for us, was rejected by God, yes, even cursed by God just as we had been. That is why the Holy Spirit through Peter, the apostle to the Jews who would know this law, specifically used the term “tree” when speaking of Christ’s death for us. 1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. Paul also referred to the fact that Jesus took our curse upon the “tree”.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”