Summary: 1. His mind was set on who he was. 2. His minds was set on his goal. 3. His mind was set on God.
Sgt. Juanita Wilson was on patrol outside Baghdad when a roadside bomb exploded beneath her vehicle. She was trying to help her driver after the explosion when she felt something unusual. When she looked down, her hand was gone. Less than two years after her injury, she is demonstrating her commitment to her country once again. CBS News featured her on their American Hero series a few years ago. Wilson has learned to function with her prosthetic left hand and is back at work at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington — the same hospital where she did her own recovery and rehabilitation. She has a Purple Heart for her bravery, and you might think she would want to stay home. But Wilson reenlisted in the Army Reserves and was expecting to return to Iraq. She told the interviewer: “Many may say that I’ve sacrificed quite a bit. I don’t really look at it that way. I don’t think I’ve sacrificed enough. I don’t think that you can sacrifice enough for the freedoms of America.” She said, “I’m a soldier. I love what I do. I love serving my country.”
I wish I had that kind of courage. You have to wonder what the mindset is of someone like Juanita Wilson. From where does her confidence come? I suspect that faith may play a part in it. It takes courage to march with confidence into the face of danger. And as I read the New Testament, I see Jesus doing this over and over.
One example was the story we read together in the Scripture today. As Jesus tried to minister to the people of his hometown, they became offended at him. The general feeling was, “Who does he think he is?” And their irritation escalated to anger. They began to think he should not be allowed to live any longer. They dragged him to the edge of a cliff and intended to throw him over. But Jesus was completely unintimidated. He simply and confidently walked through the mob that was intent on killing him. He saw danger and walked right through it.
At another time, Jesus was teaching and the crowds again became angry. The Bible says, “At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds” (John 8:59). When he told the truth it often threw people into a frenzy. Thomas Sowell said it right when he wrote, “It’s amazing how much panic one honest man can spread among a multitude of hypocrites.”
What gave Jesus this amazing sense of fearless confidence as he walked through life? This morning we want to consider some of the sources of his confidence, that we might have greater confidence ourselves. First of all: His mind was set on who he was. Jesus knew his identity and his destiny. With all the hostility Jesus faced, it would have been easy to begin to think that he really was the horrible person everyone was saying he was. The people of his hometown thought he was the illegitimate son of Mary. His birth had caused a stir in his hometown, and caused the local folk to look down on his family. And now he was talking like he was a biblical scholar who had been trained in Jerusalem, but they knew that was impossible. They could not figure out the source of his learned and gracious words. They thought that perhaps he had lost his mind. How else would you explain his confidence which came across to them as arrogance? Worse yet, it sounded like he was being subversive to the nation. Regardless, they thought he was so bad he deserved to die. And these were folks who knew him — people he had grown up around. These were not the politically motivated and powerful who wanted him out of their way. These were friends of the family.
But Jesus knew who he was. He was not Joseph’s son, he was God’s son. He knew he was legitimate. He knew who he was and who his Father was. And even though they thought he was a criminal who was worthy of death, he held his head high and lived with the confidence of who he was.
One of the great stories which illustrates the confidence of Jesus, based on who he was, was when Jesus was in a boat during a storm. The Bible tells the story like this: “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” (Mark 4:37-40). The storm was raging, and Jesus was peacefully sleeping. Others were in full panic mode; he was unshaken. The storm did not define the moment, he did. He was secure in who he was.