Comfortable or Conformable – John 12:12-50

There is nothing that we enjoy more than our personal comfort. We all love the feeling that we get when we come home after a long day and we change into our comfortable clothes and sit down and relax. We enjoy eating comfort foods, good Southern cooking that warms our souls. We like to do what is safe and we avoid conflict and confrontation as much as possible. We enjoy the comfort of the safe walls of the church, the sweet fellowship with other believers, and the involvement in that which we are familiar with. But, is this how God wants us to live? Does He want us to be comfortable? Some Christians visited a remote mission station to see how the ministry was going. As they watched the dedicated missionary team at work, they were impressed with their ministry, but admitted that they missed “civilization.” “You certainly have buried yourself out here!” one of the visitors exclaimed. “We haven’t buried ourselves,” the missionary replied. “We were planted!”[1] God is not concerned with your comfort, rather, He is concerned with your conformability. Romans 8:29 says, “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son…..”

Our text is within the context of what is known as the triumphal entry of Jesus. This event marks the beginning of the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth. He is soon to be crucified, resurrected, and ascend back to heaven. As this event unfolds, there are several thoughts to consider concerning being comfortable or conformable.

The Perspective (v. 12-19). The triumphal entry is found in all four gospels. It is triumphal because it marks the beginning of Jesus doing what He came to do; save the world from sin. It is as if Jesus is participating in a victory parade before the real battle even begins. Though, this appears to be a joyous occasion, it certainly was not comfortable for Jesus. He knew what was to come. The very people that welcomed Him into Jerusalem that day would soon be shouting: Crucify Him! For Jesus, He was conforming to the will of the Father. He was conforming to the written Word by doing what was prophesied of Him by Zechariah. This was not comfortable for Jesus. He was about to suffer the greatest pain and agony that any human being could ever possibly suffer. Victory does not come without a cost. In order to be triumphant, there must be pain. As the saying goes, ‘no pain, no gain.’ You and I cannot be victorious in our lives without some element of pain. Conforming to the will of God is never easy. However, when we come out the other side, conformity to the will God is worth it all.

The Illustration (v. 20-33). Jesus uses a basic illustration in order to show the cost of discipleship. If a seed goes into the ground and dies, then it will bring forth much fruit. In order to conform to the image of Christ, we must die to ourselves. We must take up our cross and follow Jesus. In other words, it is all or nothing. We must give Jesus everything, just as He gave everything for us. This theme of giving Jesus everything is seen elsewhere in scripture. Matthew 16:24 says, “If any man come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” You see, God does not call us to a life of comfort. He calls us to death. He calls us to die to self every day and let Christ live in and through us.

The Urgency (v. 34-36). Jesus makes it very clear that there is only a limited amount of time that we have to get things right. Verse 36 He says, “while you have the light, believe in the light.” In other words, while you have the chance, make it right. Let me tell you something, we are not promised tomorrow. Life is very short. Life is very fragile. We need to understand the seriousness of the matter. The Bible teaches us that the soul of man will live forever. Your body may die and decay, but you will live forever. You will either live forever in heaven, or you will live forever in hell. Heaven is a beautiful place. It is a place of peace. In heaven, there is no pain. There is no death. There is no heartache. In heaven, sin will not exist. However, hell is just the opposite. Hell is a place of constant torment. It is a place of fire. There is an eternal flame in hell that can never be quenched. Hell was never meant for you. It is not God’s will that you go to hell. It is God’s will that you go to heaven. However, the choice is yours. Jesus has already done everything that needs to be done in order for you to go to heaven. All you must do is believe. However, the time that you are given to believe is limited. There is coming a day when it will be too late. This is the urgency of it all. If you have not given your life to Jesus. If you have not trusted in Him as Lord and Savior. Please do so right now. This may be your last chance.

The Need (v. 37-50). Eight times in these verses we see the word ‘believe.’ The need of the hour is that you believe. Many of the Jews in Jesus’ day refused to believe. But, what about you? Will you believe? To believe on Jesus is not a comfortable thing. It requires repentance. It requires that we admit that we are sinners and that we make a U-turn and trust in Jesus completely. It means rejecting self and accepting Jesus. As we believe on Him, He promises to save us and to give us His Spirit. As we grow in Him, life may get more uncomfortable, but we will become more like Christ as we conform to His image.

Comfortable or Conformable? You cannot have it both ways. Will you choose to give up the temporary comforts of this world in order to be conformed to the image of Christ?

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 342). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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