The evangelist Reinhard Bonke has a marvelous picture of this:
The Cross of Jesus consists of two beams, one vertical and one horizontal. Those crossed timbers are twin symbols of human misery and God’s salvation. The horizontal beam is like a dash, the very sign used for minus. And that is the human story. We were born a minus, a deficit, a void. Sin has destroyed something. That something is missing, but people are at a complete loss to know what it is. They talk about their search for truth, but they don’t even know what they mean by truth. They are like Pontius Pilate who, standing before Jesus, nearly fell over The Truth asking, “what is truth?” That is man’s minus outlook.
But Jesus came, and outside Jerusalem, a vertical timber was raised which crossed through our minus sign. Jesus hung there on that upright, and He turned our minus into plus. The Romans thought the Cross was just an instrument of execution, but it was God’s plus sign for minus minded mankind.
Indeed, give the cross a second look, and it is even more than a plus---it is a multiplication sign. (EVANGELISM BY FIRE)
The focus was not even on his humiliation but on his victory. They saw calvary as a truth-telling place and not a killing field.