For the final sign John reports, things are taken to a new level. Jesus had many followers and many people who believed in Him in the right way. However, their faith was still too small, limited by their understanding. Even after this last sign, their understanding would fall short, but their trust needed to grow before Jesus headed to the cross.
Jesus hears that his dear friends are suffering. Lazarus is about to die. Jesus describes the illness as one that does not lead to death, but rather to God’s glory. That did not mean that Lazarus was not mortally sick because he was. It just meant that Jesus knew this story would not end in death. He already knew the plan.
Since He loved Lazarus and his sisters, Jesus waited for Lazarus to die. That is a strange Now—So connection. It sounds backwards. But Jesus whole purpose in this action was to strengthen His followers. He knew they needed to trust Him even more as He prepared to die. It was due to Jesus love for the family, for His disciples, even for us, that He waited for Lazarus to die.
That is perhaps small comfort for us when bad things happen in our lives. No one wants to hear the “God has His reasons” line when they are suffering. But, when we are not suffering it is a good thing to learn and learn well. Because in this world we will have suffering despite what some evil men disguised as ministers will tell you. Not due to some lack of faith on our part, but rather due to sin on humanity’s part and due to the fact that God is working all things together for our ultimate benefit.
Many people trusted that Jesus could heal. That He could prevent death. What they needed to know—what we need to know—is that He can overcome death. Jesus is the master of life and death. He is the resurrection and real life. Even though in this world we die, in the Kingdom of God there will be no death.
And perhaps most importantly, in this story we see that Jesus loves Hid followers deeply. Even though it is the favorite verse of many a snot-nosed Sunday school smart-aleck because it is so short, “Jesus wept” is beautiful. Jesus is a passionate, emotional, loving man and we serve a passionate, emotional, loving God.