Lazarus occupies a surprising position in the Gospel accounts. Widely known as the man Jesus raised from the dead, his story is actually much broader and richer than that. Living as he did at Bethany, near Jerusalem, Lazarus was uniquely placed to witness the swirl of events around Jesus. When Jesus Wept, the first novel in The Jerusalem Chronicles series by bestselling authors Bodie and Brock Thoene, unfolds the turbulent times in Judea during Jesus' ministry, centering on the friendship between Jesus and Lazarus. With rich insights from vineyard owners and vine dressers, the Thoenes explore the metaphor of Jesus as the True Vine, harvesting the ancient secrets found in the Old Testament. Weaving the life of Lazarus, who owned a vineyard, into the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ will help you understand it is the hand of Love Divine that holds the knife, that cuts and breaks with such tender and loving touch, and that we who have born some fruit, after the pruning, can bear much more.
When Jesus Wept is the best kind of historical fiction: the kind that drops you headfirst into another era and makes it difficult to return to your own time upon the turning of the last page. The Thoenes had me questioning from the very first sentence about Lazarus' backstory. I wanted to know more: What was he like, what happened to him, what did he believe? I couldn't wait to find out how Lazarus came to be lying dead in the tomb and later resurrected by Jesus. Prior to reading this book, I had thought little about Lazarus' life, focusing instead on his sisters' joy upon his resurrection, but this story brings into sharp relief the fact that Lazarus was a friend of Jesus', too, and in the perfect position to have known Him well.
From the first I wanted to take this book and read it alongside my Bible; not because I wanted to compare the two texts but because it made me curious about many nuances. Lazarus' life was not the only story of which I now want more, and I want to reread many to ponder on my own what each person's story could be.
The Thoenes dedication to research shines through on every page: from the customs of the times to the wine-making process to the large chunks of scripture placed throughout the book and the context into which they are written. This is not merely a work of fiction but a well-researched supposition, one which we can't know is true but also can't know isn't. It will help the reader understand the period into which Jesus was born and died and gain a fuller understanding of His movements leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection.
I had a rather large misconception about this book, my first Thoene book, before reading it: I expected that it was about Jesus' raising Lazarus from the dead, and so it is, but the story does not end there. That is not the climax that I was expecting, and this shift in story line from my expectation to their perfection leaves the reader unsatisfied at the end, not because there is anything missing, but because the story stops. You will not want it to - despite knowing what happens, having read the Gospels over and over and despite your childhood VBS attendance, you'll thirst for the next step of the story.
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Bodie and Brock Thoene (pronounced Tay-nee) are bestselling authors of over sixty-five works of historical fiction. Their timeless classics have sold more than thirty-five million copies and won eight ECPA Gold Medallion Awards. The Thoenes have four grown children and eight grandchildren. They divide their time between Hawaii, London, and Nevada.
Find out more about Bodie and Brock athttp://www.thoenebooks.com/.
I received a free copy of When Jesus Wept from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.