An apologetic purpose with regard to the Cross provides a comprehensive explanation of all elements and, more especially, of the ways in which those elements are presented. Fitting together to form an apology for the Cross are not only the authority and radicalism of Jesus’ teaching but also the fulfilment of his predictions, not only his power-packed miracles and exorcisms but also the supernatural manner and accompaniments of hsi death, not only his attraction of crowds but also his burial by a pious and brave member of the Sanhedrin, not only his baptismal approval by the Father and enduement with the Spirit but also his resurrection. No element has to be slighted or subsumed. Mark’s taking for granted little if any knowledge of Jesus favors that Mark writes apologetically not to keep Christians from apostatizing out of shame for the cross … but to convert non-Christians despite the shame of the Cross … So this gospel is for people who are afraid to believe in a world that despises weakness and esteems power. The Jesus of Mark is overpowering. Let the weak find in him their champion, the strong their conqueror (p. 1026).
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