"Did I not tell you that if you believed, you will see the glory of God?" (John 11:40)

"When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" 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. "But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days." Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" (John 11:33-40)

Why did Jesus weep?

Was he crying because he was mourning the death of one of his students?

Certainly not. After all, Jesus taught his students not to mourn for the dead, and to discern between life and death:
"Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead." (Matt. 8:22)
Rather, Jesus was responding to the sadness of those around him for the death of Lazarus' body:
When Jesus saw her thus weeping, and the Judeans who arrived with her were also weeping, he was deeply moved and concerned.
This means that Jesus was not concerned about the death of Lazarus' body. He was concerned about those around him. They felt they had lost their dear brother. This was sad for Jesus, as they were not understanding that the spirit-person of Lazarus did not die.

In other words, they didn't understand the difference between the spirit-person and the physical body. We will discuss this further below.

What does Jesus mean by 'see the glory of God'?

The question Jesus presents is whether we want to return to God or not. That is the very premise of "see the glory of God."

Should we decide we want to return to our relationship with God, the question then is whether we are really ready to return to our natural position of loving and caring for the Supreme Being?

This is precisely why this physical world isn't just fun and games. God created the physical world to allow us to ignore Him, but He also designed it in such a way as to help us rehabilitate. For this reason, the physical world is also a place of consequence, where every selfish activity has a consequence.

God also sends His representatives to bring those who want to return to Him back home. This was Jesus' mission, and how he described himself:
"If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but He sent me” (John 8:42)
So Jesus is clear that the Supreme Being sent him to help us return to Him. So it troubled Jesus how few were actually hearing his message.

This is precisely why Jesus said the above statement: "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

What does believing in Jesus mean?

Many teachers among today's sectarian institutions like to interpret "believed" as believing that Jesus died for our sins. They say this is all we need to do and we are saved. But is this really what Jesus was saying?

Jesus was standing right in front of them. He had not been crucified. So he was obviously not talking about them believing he died for their sins.

The word “believed” is being translated from the Greek word πιστεύω (pisteuō). This means, according to the lexicon,“to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in.” What is being described, then, is trust.

Jesus was telling the people around him - the Jews and his students - that if they simply trusted his teachings then they would see God's glory. In other words, they would return to God. Jesus provides the means to return to God. It is his teachings.

He was asking them to hear his teachings and follow his instructions. He was trying to teach them to give up their false identification with this temporary physical body and the illusions of happiness - materialism - of this physical world. He was essentially asking them to re-develop their loving relationship with the Supreme Being:
“‘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)

Is the physical body eternal?

A critical part of Jesus' teachings - virtually ignored by many institutions - is that the physical body is a temporary vehicle we drive around for a few decades and then leave. The physical body is also not even a permanent structure while it is alive. It is always changing.

Science has determined that all of the atoms and molecules making up our body today will be gone and replaced by new atoms and molecules within five years. This also means that within five years we have changed bodies.

Meanwhile, each of us - spirit-persons who drive these temporary physical bodies - continue to live, unchanged, within the body. And when the body dies, the spirit-person leaves the body.

Jesus knew this. So he was not saddened by Lazarus' death. He knew Lazarus would be fine. But he was saddened by the fact that those around him did not understand this most basic tenet of spiritual life.

Martha did understand that the living person lives on, as she had commented on resurrection (see Jesus' previous statement in John 11:25-26).

But sadly, this basic lack of understanding among the others regarding the physical body has continued through the centuries of institutional sectarianism. Furthermore, because of this lack of understanding regarding our spiritual identity, the interpretations and even translations of Jesus' life and teachings have often been faulty.

And it is this very lack of understanding by those around him that deeply troubled Jesus. Jesus loved these people. He truly cared for them spiritually, and he was saddened by their lack of understanding. He was trying to teach them, but they were focused on the physical trappings - Jesus' miracles and so on. They were not trusting in his message. They were too engorged in their identification with their bodies and their own goals for physical happiness.

Why do we think my body is me?

The false self-identification with the physical body is very strong. This is because the physical world was designed with forgetfulness. Here we forget our identity as spirit, and our relationship with God.

Yes, God has essentially allowed us to forget Him by allowing us to assume false identities. This is what these physical bodies are: Temporary false identities that we each assume for a few decades.

This is because love is based upon freedom, God gave each of us the freedom to love Him or not. And the physical world and these physical bodies allow us to exercise our God-given freedom.

We are given temporary physical bodies to provide specific learning experiences. When we occupy a physical body, we forget our previous life before that body. This allows us to learn within a vacuum.

It is sort of like a double-blind clinical study. In the best medical studies, neither the doctor nor the patient know who is getting the real medicine. Some people get the placebo, but no one knows who. This allows the experiment to get results without obvious bias. If the patients and the doctors knew who got the placebo and who got the medicine, they could influence the results.

In the same way, if we were biased by our previous experiences in previous lifetimes, then it would be more difficult for us to gain meaningful lessons in this world. Those lessons would be less impactful.

So God designed our occupation of a body to come with a sort of amnesia. Not only do we forget our own previous experiences. We also forget about the existence of the Supreme Being.

This allows us to learn so many lessons. It also allows us to either ignore God or make a decision to learn more about Him. This decision is critical to our spiritual journey when we leave this physical body at the time of death.

By nature, each of us was created to love and care for God in our own unique way. But that love must be voluntary. Therefore, we are given an environment that allows us to exercise our free will with respect to our relationship with God. And with respect to our relationship with God's children.

In other words, in order to freely decide to love God or not, we must take on a false identity and live in the illusion that He may not exist.

We often see this type of activity elsewhere - where people will assume another identity in order to escape their current situation. This is why masquerade parties are so popular. And this is why many people like to dress up and go out on the town. They want to break out of their at-home identity and be someone else for an evening in order to experience something new.

In the same way, we get "dressed up" in a different physical body so that we can forget God's existence for a while and chase our fantasies in the physical world. 

Yes, God allows us to do this because He loves us and wants us to come to Him freely. But with that escape to a physical body comes various learning experiences in the form of the challenges of this lifetime.

The challenges of this lifetime include pain, loss, loneliness, embarrassment, and many others. Each of the challenges we have faced in this lifetime provides us with the potential of a learning experience.

Now that doesn't mean we necessarily have to learn. We can ignore these learning experiences. But if we do learn from them, we can grow spiritually.