Full Text for The Atonement in Mark's Sacramental Theology (Text)

Volume 72:3 July 2008 Table of Contents Editorial ................................................................................................. 194 Flights from the Atonement ........................................................................... David P. Scaer 195 The Son of God and the Father's Wrath: Atonement and Salvation in Matthew's Gospel ........................................................................ Jeffrey A. Gibbs 211 The Atonement in Mark's Sacramental Theology Peter J. Scaer .............................................................................. 227 The Death of Jesus in the Gospel of John: Atonement for Sin? Charles A. Gieschen ................................................................. 243 .......................................................................... Theological Observer 262 The Present State of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church Law and Gospel in Pannenberg, Wingren, and Scaer Heaven is Not Our Home? Book Reviews ....................................................................................... 278 Books Received .................................................................................... 286 The Death of Jesus as Atonement for Sin The teaching of Jesus' death as atonement for sin has received renewed attention recently in biblical and theological studies. Some of this attention has been in reaction to the omnipresent mantra of critical scholarship that such teaching was a later creation of the church in order to provide a more suitable interpretation of the death of Jesus. Both the Symposium on Exegetical Theology and the Symposium on the Lutheran Confessions at Fort Wayne, held in January 2008, took up the challenge of engaging this debate. The four articles in this issue were first delivered as papers during these symposia. David Scaer addresses the tendency of Lutherans to see atonement as a doctrine easily separated from - and less important than- justification. He demonstrates the intimate interrelationship and interdependence of these doctrines as well as the current challenges being issued against a proclamation of the atonement that is faithful to the teaching of the Scriptures, especially of Jesus in the Gospels. The remaining three articles each focus on the atonement as proclaimed in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John respectively. Jeffrey Gibbs, author of the recently published Concordia Commentary on Matthew 1-10, explores the variety of texts in which Matthew proclaims the atonement. In addition to his emphasis on Jesus' substitutionary role as the New Israel, Gibbs gives significant attention to showing how Matthew proclaims the death of Jesus as the eschatological visitation of the Father's divine wrath over all sin. The article by Peter Scaer introduces us to some of the modern debate and then focuses on the teaching of atonement in Mark. Not only does he review the traditional texts proclaiming atonement (especially Mark 10:45), but he also probes how Jesus (and subsequently Mark) use the Lord's Supper and Baptism in order to proclaim Jesus' death as atonement. My article addresses the challenge that the fourth evangelist does not understand Jesus' death as atonement for sin by demonstrating ways in which this Gospel proclaims atonement that are in concert with the more explicit atonement teaching in 1 John. Debate about the atonement in our circles used to center around the legitimacy of proclaiming the atonement also according to the Christus Victor model rather than strictly using the more familiar Anselrnic model. Much more is at stake in the current debate. We hope these articles will help readers to ground their teaching of the death of Jesus as atonement for sin in the very Gospels that narrate our Lord's exemplary life lived and laid down in our stead to pay for the world's sin and conquer our foes, death and Satan. Charles A. Gieschen Associate Editor CTQ 72 (2008): 227-242 The Atonement in Mark's Sacramental Theology Peter J. Scaer I. Atonement: The Lay of the Land It was much simpler not that long ago. A seminarian taking an essay test on the atonement had only to remember the three A's: Anselm, Abelard, and Aulen. Abelard held to an exemplary view of the atonement, which rang hollow apart from Anselm's assertion that Christ's death actually paid for sin. Au1i.n'~ Christus Victor shook things up a little, trumpeting Christ's death as victory over sin, death, and the devi1.l Now, quite frankly, it is a mess. Anselm is judged not simply inadequate, but anathema. As C. J. den Heyer, a professor of New Testament at the Theological University of the Reformed Churches, puts it, "How can the death of someone in a distant past mean salvation and redemption for me, living centuries later? This notion no longer inspires many people today, but rather provokes opposition."* While den Heyer is wrong to assume that Anselm's doctrine of the atonement no longer inspires, he is right about the opposition. Feminist theologians have been in the vanguard of the insurgency. Joanne Carlson Brown and Rebecca Parker have contended that Anselmic atonement is the source of Christianity's supposed "oppressiveness" and promotes the idea of a "blood-thirsty God."3 They infamously declared that the atonement amounts to nothing short of divine child abuse. Rosemary Ruether systematized feminist thought, arguing that the traditional understanding of atonement promotes violence, not to mention the evils of patriarchy.4 Echoing the feminist critique, pacificist J. Denny Weaver expresses disdain for a view of atonement that depends on violence to provide satisfaction.5 Stephen Finlan notes that proponents of Gustaf Aulen, Christus Victor: An Histon'cal Study of tile 7'/1ree Mnitr Types of the Atonement, trans. A. G. Hebert (London: SPCK, 1950). 2 C. J. den Heyer, Jesus and the Doctrine of the Atonement, trans. John Bowden (Harrisburg: Tnnity Press International, 1998), 132. 3 Joanne Carlson Brown and Rebecca Parker, "For God So Loved the World?" in Christianity, Pntrinrcl~y, and Abuse: A Feminist Critique, ed. Joanne Carlson Brown and Carole R. Bohn (New York: Pilgrim Press, 1989), 1-30. See, for instance, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Women and Redemption: A 771eological History (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998). J. Denny Weaver, 7'he Nonviolent Atonement (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001). Peter J. Scner is Assistant Professor ofExegetica1 Theology and Supervisor of the M.A. program at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana. 228 Concordia Theological Quarterly 72 (2008) Liberation Theology, Womanist Theology, and Black Theology have all weighed in against the traditional at~nement.~ He proceeds to summarize the objections, noting that the Anselrnic atonement is "primitive," "superstitious," "destructive of monotheism," and, for good measure, a "font of anti-Se~nitism."~ The very necessity of Christ's death is questioned. As Finlan bluntly puts it, Jesus "did not think that it was God's will that he should be murdered."s It has to be added, however, that the doctrine is attacked not only on the fringes. Consider the promisingly titled book Recoverin8 the Scandal of the Cross, published by the hardly-radical Intervarsity Press. In it Joel Green and Mark Baker proclaim that the cross is "the defining symbol of the Christian faith."9 In an ecclesiastical culture of prosperity theology, with both Mormonism and Islam on the rise, such attention to the cross is refreshing. Green and Baker helpfully speak of the manifold ways in which the death of Christ may be articulated. Abelard is credited for championing the exemplary atonement and Aulen for Christus Victor. The authors go further and show how developing Christianity in Japan has emphasized the way in which Jesus' death provides salvation from shame. Other more obscure models of atonement likewise receive positive attention. One view, however, is singled out for extensive criticism: namely, that sin incurs a debt or penalty that must be paid and that Christ pays this debt, on behalf of humanity, to the Father. What is wrong with the Anselrnic view? First, we should know that it is medieval, which is code in modem scholarship for backwards. Second, we should be aware that it is a Westem idea, which in scholarship is a synonym for shallow, hierarchcal, and possibly imperialistic. Third, substitutionary atonement is based on a judicial model that is supposedly specific to our culture. Christian missionaries, we are told, have discovered "huge populations of our world for whom guilt is a nonissue."l0 Fourth, Anselmic atonement promotes patriarchy, which, of course, is cruel by nature and a stepping stone to the "legitimation of unjust human suffering or the idealization of the victim."" Finally, as we know, sin is not our fault. 6 Stephen Finlan, Problems with Atonenrent: The Origins of, and Controzlersy about, the Atonenlent Doctrine (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2005). 7 Finlan, Problems with Atonement, 106,108,116. 8 Finlan, Problems with Atonement, 109 (emphasis original). 9 Joel 8. Green and Mark D. Baker, Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in Neul Testament and Contemporary Texts (Downers Grove, IL: lntervarsity Press, 2000). 10 Green and Baker, Recwen'ng the Scandal of the Cross, 29. The idea of making guilt an issue by preaching the law does not seem to have occurred to the authors. 11 Green and Baker, Recoziering the Scandal of the Cross, 30. Scaer: The Atonement in Mark's Sacramental Theology 229 Under-represented groups cannot be accused of sin, for they are oppressed. The rest of us can blame our families, genetics, and society at large.12 Moreover, as if we have not heard this before, we are told that by placing our guilt on Jesus there will be no basis for moral behavior.13 So, Green and Baker paradoxically tell us that we are not to blame for our sin, while simultaneously encouraging us to take responsibility for our actions. Now, all of these attacks on the Anselmic view may be lumped together, however inelegantly, as attacks by the left in its desire to mitigate the place of human culpability. I am reminded of a now three-decade old Monty Python skit, in which the arrested tluef defends himself, saying, "I'm not to blame. It's society's fault." At which the police respond, "OK then. Arrest society." Lightfrom the East? It seems to me that another related challenge to the notion of substitutionary atonement comes not from the liberal West but from the ecclesiastical East. In his work Light from the Christian East, James Payton informs us that the Eastern church has not focused on such Western notions as "the justice of God, the question of humankind's guilt, the necessity of satisfaction, payment of debts, being justified, standing before God in his court and the like."l4 As Payton notes, many in the Eastern tradition are wont to say that the real problem facing humanity is not sin, but death, and that the real goal of the Christian life is not forgiveness, but life in God, or some form of divinization. Tlus divinization occurs primarily through the sacraments, where the Christian is healed and brought closer to God. The Eastern Orthodox John 3:16 might very well be 2 Peter 1:4, which speaks of us becoming "participants of the divine nature." This passage has signal appeal for those longing for a fuller sacramental understanding of the Christian life. There is something to learn here. On the other hand, topics such as the justice of God, humankind's guilt, the necessity of satisfaction, payment of debts, being justified, and standing before God in his court are also thoroughly biblical. Some of us might also want to add that while life with God is the ultimate goal, death is not the ultimate problem, but more precisely the fruit of a tree, which has sin as its root. Without the justice of the cross, the devil's accusation stands, as does the unpaid sin which prevents full communion with God. '2 Green and Baker, Recovering the Scandal of the Cross, 29. 13 Green and Baker, Recovering the Scandal of the Cross, 31. 14 James R. Payton, Light from the Christian East: An introduction to tfre Orthodox Tradition (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2007), 121. 230 Concordia Theological Quarterly 72 (2008) Uneasy Allies To their credit, many of the strongest proponents of the Anselmic model of atonement are often traditional Evangelicals and Calvinists. In recent years, works by David Peterson,'5 Robert Letham,l6 Thomas Schreiner,17 Roger Nicole,18 J. I. Packer,'g and others have provided welcome ammunition in the battle to defend the traditional doctrine of the atonement. Yet, for Lutherans a sense of unease remains. Robert Letham, for instance, has written the largely excellent book The Work of Clzri~t. In it, he provides a sturdy biblical defense of penal substitution: namely the doctrine that Christ has paid for the penalty of sin on the cross. What follows though is an appendix on "The Intent of the AtonementVM in which he frets that the idea that Christ died for all will lead to universalism. Some idea of limited atonement is necessary, lest we think that God's work is not efficacious. Likewise, J. Ramsey Michaels argues for the idea of a limited, or as he puts it, "definite atonement."21 Thus, the idea that "Jesus died for everyone indiscriminately" is avoided.= Such authors aim to make salvation and atonement co-terminous. The Reformed view that Christ died efficaciously for the elect alone is meant to safeguard monergism and the atonement's efficacy. As Sinclair Ferguson asks, "For if Christ's atonement was made for someone who was never saved by it, 15 David Petersen, ed., Where Wrath and Mercy Meet: Proclaiming the Atonement Today, Papersfrom the Fourth Oak Hill College Annual School of n~eology (Carlisle, UK, and Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster Press, 2001). 16 Robert Letham, The Work of Christ (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993). " Thomas R. Schreiner, "Penal Substitution View," in The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views, ed. James Beilby and Paul R. Eddy (Downers Grove, 1L: IVP Academic, 2006), 67-116. 18 Roger R. Nicole, Charles E. Hill, and Frank A. James, eds., The Gloy of the Atonement: Biblical, Historical and Practical Perspectives, Essays in Honor of Roger Nicole (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004). '9 J. I. Packer, Celebrating the Saving Work of God (Carlisle, UK: Paternoster Press, 1998). 20 Letham, The Work of Christ, 225-247. 21 J. Ramsey Michaels, "Atonement in John's Gospel and Epistles: 'The Lamb of God Who Takes Away the Sin of the World,"' in Nicole, Hill, and James, The Gloy of the Atonement, 106; see also Raymond A. Blacketer, "Definite Atonement in Historical Perspective," in Nicole, Hill, and James, The Gloy of the Atonement, 304-323. " Michaels, "Atonement in John's Gospel and Epistles," 117. Scaer: The Atonement in Mark's Sacramental Theology 231 how can I look to it with confidence that I will be saved by his precious b100d?"23 This puts Lutherans in a bit of a quandary. We want, in the strongest way, to proclaim the guilt of sin and necessity of payment. With our Evangelical and Reformed friends, we want to say that Christ's death actually accomplished something. What we do not want is to lose the doctrines of universal atonement and objective justification: the belief that by the death of Christ, God is reconciled to the whole world. The God of limited or "definite" atonement is not a God at peace with humanity, or at least not with all of humanity. In fact, one might argue, he looks not unlike the caricature of the God portrayed by those who rail against the Anselmic atonement. Yes, such a God may be glorious, but is he all-loving? Thus, Lutherans may well lean on Reformed scholarship but are understandably wary of where they may fall. The Sacraments and Atonement? The next question is whether there can be any real intersection between sacramental and atonement theology. Does a strong sacramental theology militate against a strong doctrine of the atonement? Or, do the sacraments necessarily lead us to a more therapeutic understanding of salvation at odds with substitutionary atonement? Many of those who promote sacramental theology downplay or disavow Anselm. On the other hand, the most prominent defenders of the doctrine often have little to say about sacramental theology. Or worse, some pit sacramental theology against a true understanding of the gospe1.24 What I think needs to be established, or at least explored, is the relationship between the atonement and sacramental theology. One place to begin may be the Gospel of Mark. The Gospels within the Debate over the Atonement The debate over the doctrine of the atonement is wide-ranging, covering most of the canon of Scripture, from the meaning of the Exodus, the Levitical sacrifices, and the Suffering Servant, to the translation of 23 Sinclair 8. Ferguson, "Preaching the Atonement," in Nicole, Hill, and James, 7k Glory of the Atonement, 439. " Such is the case, perhaps, with Where Wrath and Mercy Meet, in which Alan Stibbs adds a two-page epilogue on the sacraments, mentioning in passing "the unworthy practice of infant baptism." See "Appendix: Justification by Faith: The Reimtatement of the Doctrine Today," in Petersen, Where Wrath and Mercy Meet, 173. 232 Concordia Theologica 1 Quarterly 72 (2008) Ihurip~ov in Romans 3:25 and the role of Christ's priesthood in the Letter to the Hebrews. Given their centrality to the Christian story, less attention has been paid to the Gospels than one might expect. Most New Testament atonement discussions center first on Paul and then proceed to the Gospels. Martin Hengel, in his marvelous little work The Atonement: The Origins of the Doctrine in the Nm Testament, notes that the kind of atonement formulae found in the Pauline epistles "retreat into the background in the synoptic tradition."25 In this view, Paul writes the definitive theology which is then given biographical background by the evangelists. There is, however, another way to think about it. That is, the Gospels represent the very heart of the atonement and are Scripture's purest expression of a God who is truly at one with humanity in Christ. 11. The Meaning of Christ's Death in Mark Some argue that Mark is not the best Gospel for seeing the fullness of the atonement. The second evangelist lacks much of our Lord's teaching ministry. He omits the Lord's Prayer and, therefore, the petition "Forgive us our debts" (Matt 6:12). Likewise, he does not include the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt 18:21-35). These and other texts would be useful in explaining sin as a debt that must be paid. When it comes to the atonement, one is tempted to agree with C. J. den Heyer who comments that the evangelist Mark "offers relatively few new perspectives on the suffering and death of Jesus."26 On the other hand, Christ's death is the pivot of Mark's entire Gospel. Strikingly, Mark, excluding the later additions by transmitters of the text, omits resurrection appearances and leaves us only with an empty tomb. Furthermore, no human being declares Jesus to be God's Son until the crucifixion. As Ernest Best aptly puts it, "The death of Jesus broods over the entire G0spe1."2~ As such, Jesus' atoning death takes center stage in the Markan drama. Christ's Death is Necessary Some strangely argue that Christ's death was not necessary. As Stephen Finlan writes, "Jesus did not come to earth in order to be murdered. He tried to lead his people into a new age of spiritual - - 25 Martin Hengel, 77le Atonement: The Origins of the Doctrine in the ,Vew Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981), 34. 26 Den Heyer, Jesus and the Doctrine of the Atonement, 80. 27 Ernest Best, Mark: The Gospel as Story (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1983), 66. Scaer: The Atonement in Mark's Sacramental Theology 233 illumination, which would have followed upon acceptance of his revelation."28 Against such a blatant misreading are numerous Markan passages based on our Lord's own teaching. As Mark writes, "And with boldness he uesus] began preaching the word (Mark 8:32). What word? The word of the cross. Mark writes, "And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law, and be killed, and after three days rise again" (Mark 8:31). This theme of necessity is repeated in Jesus' passion predictions in Mark 9:31 and 10:33-34, where Jesus again speaks of the inevitability of his death. What is more, the basis for the necessity of Christ's death is found in God's will, as expressed in the Scriptures. In Mark 9:12, Jesus interprets his death in this way: "It is written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt." Again, at the Supper, Jesus says that "The Son of Man goes as it is written of him" (Mark 14:21). Yet again, as he is being arrested, he says, "Let the Scriptures be fulfilled" (Mark 14:49). Thus, Jesus describes his own death as necessitated by the Scriptures and, therefore, by God himself. Though Jesus prays that the cup may pass from him, he nevertheless proceeds to drink the cup of suffering, in accordance with the will of his Father (Mark 14:32-42). Of course, to say that Jesus' death was necessary does not then define the exact nature of that necessity. Christ's Death as Example, Victoy, and Ransom Abelard could have very well drawn upon Mark in asserting Jesus' death as exemplary. When speaking of his death, Jesus offers himself as a model for the Christian life: "You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all" (Mark 10:43-44). True disciples are called upon to follow the example of our Lord who "came not to be served, but to serve" (Mark 10:45). Still, the exemplary nature of Christ's death hardly exhausts its meaning. As others have remarked, for his death to be exemplary it must also have purpose. Roger Nicole puts it well when he writes: Yet for any action to be truly exemplary, it is necessary that it have an appropriate motivation. If I should die in attempting to save a drowning child, my action may be judged heroic and exemplary. But if I thrust - -- 2 Finlan, Problems with Atonement, 110. Concordia Theological Quarterly 72 (2008) myself in the water to give an example to those present, my act will be seen as insane and far from a paragon of virtue. 29 Accordingly, after describing his death as exemplary, our Lord then offers the locus classicus for the atonement: "The Son of Man has come . . . to give his life as a ransom for the many" (Mark 10:45; cf. Matt 20:28). First, as a matter of housekeeping, we should not think of "many" in such a way that we say that Christ's ransom is for many but not for others. As James Edwards notes, "In Semitic grammar, 'the many' normally stands for totality, a11."M This Markan and Matthean passage has a close parallel in 1 Timothy 2:6, where Paul writes that Christ "gave himself as a ransom for all." In Romans 5, just as Adam's sin results in the judgment and death for the masses (i.e., all humankind), so also Christ's act of obedience has a positive effect for the masses (i.e., all humankind). Thus, in Mark 10:45, we do well to say that Christ died for the masses, among whom we are all numbered. In what way is our Lord's death salvific? In Mark 10:45, Jesus describes his death as a k6rpov, which may be translated as "ransom" or "redemption." As many have noted, the term k6rpov is an echo of the Exodus story, where the Lord redeems his people Israel out of the bondage of slavery. For instance, in Exodus 6:6 the Lord says to Moses, "I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment." This is the same way the term is used in Luke's Benedictus, where Zechariah sings, "Praise be the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and made a redemption [kiirpoa~v] for his people" (Luke 1:68). Yet, a number of scholars have cautioned that this supposed metaphor should not be pressed beyond its limits." In Exodus, the Lord redeems with his arm and by his mighty acts. Thus, God redeems not with payment but power. When Christ speaks of his death as a redemption, he evokes memories of deliverance from pharaoh and proclaims his own victory over sin, death, and the devil. Thus, our Lord proclaims himself Christus Victor. Score one for Aulen. Yet, while the Christus Victor theme is present, it does not tell the whole story. Even as the death of Jesus broods over the Gospels, so also death broods over the Exodus. The children of Israel were not only 29 Roger Nicole, "Postscript on Penal Substitution," in Nicole, Hill, and James, Tlw Glory of the Atonement, 447. " James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 327. 3' See, for instance, J. Louis Martyn, Galatians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, Anchor Bible 33A (New York: Doubleday, 1997), 317. Scaer: The Atonement in Mark's Sacramental Theology 235 redeemed out of Egypt, but they were also saved from the destruction of the firstborn. This came at a price: namely, the blood of the Passover lamb. Those whose doors were not marked by the lamb's blood lost their firstborn to death. It is significant, therefore, that each of the Gospels, Mark included, frames Christ's death within the Passover tradition (Mark 14:l). Mark pictures Jesus' death in terms of the sacrifice of the Passover lamb (Mark 14:12). Christ is the first-born, the spotless lamb whose blood is shed so that we may escape death. Further, we would do well to consider the work of Simon Gathercole who has shown that the term lirpov is also found within the legal framework of Exodus (LXX).32 Particularly, he points to passages such as Exodus 21:29-30 where Moses lays down this law: "But if the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not kept it in, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death." The owner may avoid the death penalty, notes the Lawgiver. "However, if payment is demanded, the owner shall give a ransom [iirpa] for his life, whatever is demanded." Thus, within the immediate context of Exodus, the term "ransom" cannot be used simply as a metaphor for salvation or liberation because it implies that a definite price must be paid for that freedom. Thus, the term "ransom" carries with it the idea of exchange or bartering. Many have also noted that Mark 10:45 strongly echoes Isaiah 53.33 By offering to give his life, Christ identifies himself as the Suffering Servant, the one who will bear the iniquities of others and carry "the sin" of many with the result that "many" will be accounted righteous (Isa 53:ll-12). R. T. France aptly concludes, "This accumulation of verbal echoes of Is. 53:lO-12 is compelling in itself, and it is the more so when it is recognised that the whole thrust of Is. 53 is to present the servant as one who suffers and dies for the redemption of the people, whose life is offered as substitute for France astutely observes that it would be hard to offer a better summary of Isaiah 53 than Jesus' own words, "The Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).3j 32 Simon J. Gathercole, "The Cross and Substitutionary Atonement," Scottish Bulletin of Evangelicnl 7heology 21 (2003): 152-165. 33 See R. T. France, rile Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; Carlisle, UK: Paternoster, 2002), 419-421. " France, 77re Gospel of Mark, 420. 35 France, The Gospel of Mark, 420421. Concordia Theological Quarterly 72 (2008) In sum, Abelard, Aulkn, and Anselm can all be supported by Mark 10:45, not as competing themes of atonement but complementary ones. Without including an Anselmic understanding of Jesus' death in the mix of interpreting Mark, the exemplary nature of the atonement is lost, as is the victory over death. 111. Jesus Describes the Atonement Sacramentally What has not been such a prominent part of the atonement discussion is the relationship between the atonement and the sacraments. This, I think, is crucial. Atonement, after all, has to do with reconciliation. What can atonement mean if God does not come in touch and stay in touch with his creation? Without incarnation, atonement is a theory. Without the sacraments, atonement remains history. In the incarnation, and then in the sacraments, atonement is actualized. For in the sacraments, not only do we receive a pledge of forgiveness, we also come into contact with the God who is with us in Christ. God's forgiveness and presence are two sides of the same coin. In this regard, it is interesting to see how closely the Gospel of Mark ties together the death of Jesus to his sacramental ministry. The first instance of this is the relationship between the atonement and the Lord's Supper. The Atonement and the Lord's Supper The setting of the Lord's Supper is the Passover meal, a point Mark repeatedly underlines (Mark 14:1, 12, 14, 16). The reader is thereby reminded that redemption is accomplished and actualized by the sacrifice and eating of the Passover lamb. In what may be the apex of atonement theology, our Lord echoes his previous ransom statement, saying, "This is my blood of the covenant shed on behalf of many" (Mark 14:24). Thus, as he did earlier, our Lord speaks of his death as a sacrificial self-giving for the masses. Yet, now he links that sacrificial giving particularly to the shedding of his blood-to the Supper. Here our Lord's words echo not only Isaiah 53 but also Exodus 24:8 (LM), in which Moses offered and sprinkled the blood of the covenant (rb alpa ifjs 6~aei~qs). As in Exodus 24, the shedding of Jesus' blood provides necessary atonement and enables the Lord to eat and be one with his people. The Lord's Supper and atonement are linked further in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus willingly drinks the cup of judgment. Thus, Christ drinks in judgment so that his disciples may drink in forgiveness. The shed blood speaks of sacrifice and the very basis of redemption for "the many." The death of Jesus becomes the basis of a new relationship between God and his people, and this relationship finds its bond in the blood which Jesus sacrifices (atonement) and shares (sacrament). The historical enactment of Scaer: The Atonement in Mark's Sacramental Theology 237 atonement (the shedding of blood on the cross) will be actualized as the disciples continue to drink it anew in the kingdom of God (sacrament). The Atonefnent and Baptism That the Lord's Supper should be linked to the atonement is not so surprising. What is remarkable, though, is the way that Mark links Baptism to the atonement and the atonement to Baptism. Atonement is, at its very heart, the bridging of the gap between God and man and the breaking down of barriers. Perhaps there is no more telling symbol of this than the temple curtain which is the final barrier that separates God's people from his immediate presence. Only the high priest walked beyond this curtain once a year, on the Day of Atonement. In order to enter past this curtain, the high priest was required to offer a sin offering and a burnt offering. In a type of Old Testament Baptism, he would then bathe his body in water and put on holy garments (Leviticus 16). Then he would sprinkle blood upon the mercy seat, thereby making atonement for the uncleanness of the people. We cannot underestimate, therefore, the sigruficance of the fact that at the death of Jesus the temple curtain is tom in two, from top to bottom (Mark 15:38; see also Matt 27:51 and Luke 23:45).36 The Holy of Holies, the very presence of God, is made accessible by the death of Jesus on the cross. Adele Yarbro Collins is right to note that it symbolizes "the rending of the barrier between humanity and God," and it may further sigrufy "that the death of Jesus has made possible access to God for all humanity."37 Mark takes the tearing of the curtain, however, in a surprising new direction. Mark alone among the evangelists explicitly links the tearing of the temple curtain to Baptism. At Jesus' death in Mark 15:38, the temple curtain was tom open (io~~oeq). So also, Mark 1:10 tells us that at Jesus' Baptism the heavens are not simply opened (as in Matthew and Luke), but they are "tom open" (oy,~