One of the biggest things I hear students say they look forward to in college is FREEDOM! (No more bedtime, no more curfew, no more opinions about what they wear, etc.)
BTW, Most college students quickly learn that with great freedom, comes great responsibility. But treated responsibly, freedom can be a wonderful thing!
Unfortunately, many college students do not enjoy that freedom responsibly and what they find is the very expressions of “freedom” have the reverse affect. They set out looking for freedom, but become enslaved to what they choose to do with that freedom. For example, many students have embraced drugs or alcohol as an expression of freedom and have become alcoholics, drug attics, or made life-altering decisions while under the influence. The very thing that they did in the name of freedom, ended up stealing abundant life from them. This idea is true for things not as severe as drugs or alcohol as well. Some students enjoy the attention they get from others when they dress a certain way or post certain pictures. In celebrating the freedom to do this, they end up becoming enslaved to a need for likes or attention.
Whatever it is, the reality is that God does not want us to be ensalved to anyone or anything. He wants us to experience freedom in a way that honors him. And he wants us to experience a full and satisfying life. Such a life is only found in abiding in Christ.
I want to share three important reminders to you today from a story about one of Jesus’ best friends.
John 11 – Story of Lazarus
Jesus receives word one day that his good friend Lazarus (the brother of Mary & Martha) is sick. Jesus responds in vs. 4 by saying, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Scripture points out in the very next verse, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Jesus had a great love for these friends of his. That is why the next verse seems a little odd. “So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” (vs. 6)
What!? If Jesus loved Lazarus, why would he stay where he was two more days??? Well, we later learn that Jesus wanted to do a far bigger miracle than they were asking for…
In the following verses we see three truths that every college student needs to grasp:
• There is nothing too dead for Jesus.
Vs. 17, “On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.” Lazarus wasn’t just dead. He was dead dead. In fact, when Jesus reached the tomb they were worried about the stench of what was inside. The fourth day was significant, because Jewish tradition believed that the spirit hovered over the body for 3 days. After three days, they were completely gone.
If you ever feel like you or someone else is too gone for God to save or Jesus to heal, that is a lie. Someone once told me “no matter how many steps you take away from God, it only takes one to get back to him.” That step is a step of surrender and obedience.
How awesome it is to think that no matter our condition, Jesus is able to give life.
• Jesus came to give life.
In vs. 38 we see, “Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ he said.” Jesus then blew their minds when he called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” When Jesus called him, “The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.”
Can you imagine the response when everyone sees a mummy come walking out of the tomb??!
At the beginning of this story, the disciples were expecting Jesus to heal a sick man, but Jesus wanted to demonstrate that he can raise a dead man and bring life to that which had none. The sisters were wanting a healing. Jesus wanted a resurrection. That’s what Jesus does. He heals. He gives life!
John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that
they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Jesus died so that we can experience life. Life eternal in heaven for everyone who puts their faith in Him, and life abundant on this earth for all who abide in Him.
• Jesus came to set free.
We see that Lazarus emerged from the tomb wrapped in the death clothes of a mummy. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (vs. 44)
Jesus not only wants to give life, but free from all former evidence of death.
John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”
Jesus doesn’t set us free to remain in bondage to anyone or anything. Jesus came to set free!
It’s important to go back note the shortest verse in Scripture in the context of this story. Most of us know the verse, but don’t know the context of it. John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.” Why did Jesus weep?
Jesus wept because those he loved wept. Jesus loves us with a perfect and unlimited love and cares deeply when we hurt. I believe Jesus also wept because although his friends believed he could heal a sick man, they failed to see that He could and wanted to do immeasurably more than they even thought to ask.
Do you believe that God wants to do more in your life than you may even think to ask? Are you feeling distant and away from God? Do you ever feel like you’ve done something so bad, that Jesus can’t bring healing? Is there anything (a past mistake, an addiction, an attitude) that is robbing you of life?
If so, let me encourage you today to walk in the freedom of Jesus, the one who not only wants to give you life, but completely free you from all that would keep you from experiencing abundant life in Him!
Jesus not only wants to give you life, but completely free you from all that would keep you from experiencing abundant life in Him.
This devotional is one in Sugar Hill Church’s First 30 devotional series for college students.
To access the entire series & podcasts be sure to check SHC’s site each day,
as new ones are added daily.
(Who can you encourage today by sending them this devo?)