The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said goodbye to his friends. He was not coming back. He was not going out to have his life redirected; he was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all the man completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with it's victim. It struck swift and hard, and when it had finished its work the man was no more.