The Savior teaches us about the symbolism of the cross on which he was crucified. Outstretched arms are an invitation for a loving embrace. Christ's arms, outstretched and nailed into position, are an invitation for just such a loving embrace. They symbolize his desire to draw all men unto himself. Elder Bruce C. Hafen stated, "Our embracing of Christ's gospel can lead us eventually to embrace him, in a relationship of unity that fulfills everlastingly our longing to belong." (Belonging heart, p. 17)
Now let's consider the symbolism of Christ's statement, 'as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father.' Little did the Roman centurions realize that they were, in an ironic gospel sense, symbolizing God the Father as they raised Jesus on the cross. The power of their mortal muscle which raised Jesus on his cross but pales in comparison to God's power in bringing to pass the resurrection. The soldiers mechanically brought death to the living, but the father miraculously brings life to the dead. Again, the weakness of mortals is contrasted against the infinite wisdom and mercy of God. Nevertheless, the cross had to go up, it had to be lifted up, the atonement had to be accomplished so that the Father could, by the laws of justice and mercy, raise us from the dead and judge us according to our works.