"This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's son may be glorified through it." (John 11:4)

This statement was made by Jesus when he heard about Lazarus, whose body was sick. Lazarus was the the brother of Mary and Martha. All three were students of Jesus. The Mary here is the person who had washed Jesus' feet with her hair and applied scented oil to him as she worshiped him.

Here Jesus is not only predicting that Lazarus' body would not die from his illness. Jesus is explaining why the miracle would take place.

Note that Jesus did not indicate that the miracle of healing Lazarus would occur for the benefit of Lazarus. This, in fact, is the prime motive that so many go to see ecclesiastical and charismatic preachers who claim to heal people in the name of Jesus. They do not go to glorify God. They do not go to learn about Jesus' teachings. They go to get healed, just as one goes to a doctor.

This is a self-centered approach towards God. This approach assumes that God and Jesus are our servants and we simply order up some health (or any other material benefit) and they deliver it. Actually, it is the other way around. We are God's servants.

This also brings up the notion of unfairness. Why does the Supreme Being heal some people and not others? Why was Lazarus healed and not others? Is God unfair? Was Jesus unfair?

This brings into view the bigger picture of this, which is why some people are born into poverty, and some children die of starvation. Many in fact have questioned God's kindness and even His very existence because of this fact. The question posed is:

Why, if God is kind and loving, is there so much suffering in the world?

The answer to this comes from understanding what the physical world is, and who we are, and why we are here. While this has been discussed elsewhere in detail in these writings, let's summarize:

1) We are not these physical bodies. We are each individual and eternal spiritual living beings, temporarily driving a particular physical body.

2) The physical body is a temporary machine designed to reflect the current state of our consciousness, combined with the accumulation of consequences from our prior activities. We might compare this to a car. We buy a car based upon a combination of our particular preference of cars and our bank account balance. Then we drive that car around for a few years, and at some point it breaks down (or we sell it first). Then we get out of the car and then buy another car - and again the car we end up buying and driving is the result of a combination of our preference for cars (consciousness) and our bank balance (the accumulation of consequences from prior activities).

3) Because the physical body is only an exterior vehicle, what happens to it does not happen to us. We can certainly experience and learn from what happens to the body, but because we are eternal spiritual living beings, what happens to the physical body does not happen to us. We get out of the body unscathed (except for our learning experience, which we keep).

4) The purpose of pain and suffering in the physical world is to teach us and help us rehabilitate. We fell from the spiritual dimension because we became self-centered. The spiritual world is a place where everyone loves and serves God - and each other. This is our home. But because the Supreme Being gives us freedom (love requires freedom), each of us can also choose to be God-loving or self-loving. Those of us who chose self-centeredness don't belong in the spiritual world. We then fell into the physical world, and took on temporary physical bodies to exercise our freedom to be self-centered.

5) The physical world, however, is a place of consequence. Everything done selfishly - even if it is for our family or country - has consequence. As we cycle from one lifetime to the next, the type of body we take on will depend upon our past decisions and actions. This serves to teach us. It helps us to understand the consequences of our choices, just as consequence learning helps children grow into responsible adults.

6) Should we learn the lessons of the physical world, we may rise to an intelligent human form and have the opportunity to hear from God's representative. Should we take their teachings seriously and apply them to our lives, we may, with the Supreme Being's help, be rehabilitated and become ready to return to the spiritual world.

Utilizing this information, we can now see the suffering of the physical body for what it is. We can also learn to grow beyond it by applying Jesus' teachings.

And this is precisely what the healing of Lazarus was meant to do:
"No, it is for God's glory so that God's son may be glorified through it."
First Jesus states, "it is for God's glory." This is the ultimate purpose, and the purpose of Jesus' teachings: To help us resume our lost relationship with God. Glorifying God heals our selfishness. When we glorify God, we are re-developing our lost loving relationship with Him.

Then Jesus says, "so that God's son may be glorified through it." "God's son" is translated from the Greek phrase υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. τοῦ θεοῦ means "of God." While υἱὸς can be translated to "son" in the context of a physical father-son relationship, this is, to quote the lexicon, "in a restricted sense, the male offspring (one born by a father and of a mother)."

Alternatively, the lexicon also translates υἱὸς as, "used to describe one who depends on another or is his follower." Since we are not talking about a relationship of the physical body when we refer to Jesus' relationship with God, the latter translation must be derived. Thus, 'dependent follower' or better, 'loving servant' are more appropriate translations in most cases - but in this context, as Jesus was specifically sent by God - the translation would be God's representative.

Servants of God is consistent with the original texts translated to the multiple references to "sons of God" among the English Bible translations:
When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. (Genesis 6:2)
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:4)
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. (Job 1:6)
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. (Job 2:1)
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:7)
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Matt. 6:9)
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12)
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14)
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19)

Each of these references to "sons of God" refer to those who are devoted to God - those who lovingly serve the Supreme Being.

But in the case of Jesus, as God has specifically sent Jesus, Jesus is a special type of servant of God: He is also the Representative of God.

This also means that υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ is best translated to Representative of God: and Jesus' statement to:
 "so that God's Representative may be glorified through it."
And why would the Supreme Being want to glorify Jesus? God is wanting to bring attention to Jesus and Jesus' teachings. Why? Because God wants us back. He wants us to be happy, and the only way we will be happy is by resuming our natural position as the Supreme Being's loving care-givers within the spiritual dimension. This is why Jesus' primary instruction was:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)


(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Gospel of John without sectarian institutional influence, see the Gospels of Jesus  - translated from the original Greek texts.)