Like all the gospels, the Gospel of Mark was addressed to a specific community with the needs of the community firmly in mind. Marks main concern is an abiding Christian concern: the centrality of the cross. Jesus of Nazareth is indeed Messiah - but a crucified Messiah. Marks theology is a theology of the cross and Marks Jesus is the most human in the gospels.
The story of Jesus as told by Mark is a story of human failure: the failure of Israel, the failure of the disciples, the seeming failure of Jesus himself. For Jesus died abandoned by all - even, it seemed, by God. In the end all humans fail. God alone succeeds. The Father had not abandoned the Son, but had raised Jesus from the dead. The failed disciples will encounter the risen Lord in Galilee. There will be a new beginning, not because they have succeeded but solely because of the initiative of God.
His disciples did not understand Jesus before Calvary. The Christian reader of the first century and of today is being challenged to come to terms with the love of God shown forth in the cross of Christ.
Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, is a professor of New Testament at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has written numerous works, including What Are We Hoping For? New Testament Images, Why Do We Hope? Images in the Psalms, and Jesus Ben Sira of Jerusalem: A Biblical Guide to Living Wisely, all published by Liturgical Press. Harrington is editor of the Sacra Pagina series, for which he also authored The Gospel of Matthew and coauthored The Gospel of Mark.