Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I've been translating along in Mark 8, trying to get through seven verses each morning. Today I stopped at the end of verse 28, which is really in the middle of a section of dialogue between Jesus and His disciples. But stopping here, and focusing on the text thus can be a good thing.
After healing a blind man, Jesus and His disciples are on their way to Caesarea Philippi, and all of a sudden he stops and asks a question. We normally read the question in the English translation as something like this: "Who do people say I am?" But in the Greek, it's a bit more nuanced: "What are the people calling me to be?"
It's a question you've probably considered, maybe years ago when you were trying to choose a career path, or maybe still as you decide what sort of parent your children want you to be. It's a question Jesus asks his disciples, not because he wants to make sure that he is making everyone happy, but because he wants to teach them that He has a higher calling.
No man can give Jesus a vocation (a calling) other than what His Father has called him to be. And thanks be to God, His calling includes betrayal, abuse, and death on a cross.
The disciples told Jesus that some were calling him to be John, while others were calling him to be Elijah, and others were calling him to be one of the prophets. And while Jesus did preach like John and announce the coming of the kingdom, and he did perform miracles like Elijah, and proclaim the Word like the apostles, He ultimately had a higher calling that came not from a man, or a crowd, but from His heavenly Father--the Cross.
And so do you. You are undoubtedly pulled in one direction and another by people who are calling for you to be something or someone. Most of those people are probably well-meaning and are just trying to be encouraging. But rest assured, that you too have a calling (a vocation) that is not given by any man but by God himself. You are called to be a son or daughter, forgiven and set apart as a part of the royal priesthood. And in your calling as God's son or daughter, you are also called to bear a cross like that of Christ, as you are called to serve your wife, your children, and your neighbors with the self-sacrificial and undeserved love that you have received through Christ.
No matter what your profession may be, just like Jesus was called by His heavenly Father to serve, God has called you as His son or daughter to carry the love of Christ with you wherever you go. What higher calling could there possibly be?
In His Service. Amen.