When Jesus Wept, The Jerusalem Chronicles Series #1
Inspirational biblical fiction
Before he called me forth from the grave, Jesus wept. . . . Jesus groaned, and the heads of angels and saints turned to look down upon the earth in wonder.
Thus begins When Jesus Wept, book #1 in "The Jerusalem Chronicles" by Bodie and Brock Thoene. Taking what little is known about Lazarus from the Scriptures, they skillfully use their biblical knowledge and imagination to weave a moving narrative of what-could-have-been against the backdrop of political unrest at the time.
Lazarus . . . The man Jesus raised from the dead in one of the most extraordinary encounters with the living Savior in all of Scripture. But the life of Lazarus holds interest well beyond this miraculous event. Living in Bethany, near Jerusalem, Lazarus witnessed many of the most important events of Jesus' life and ministry. Lazarus owned a vineyard and devoted his life to caring for its vines and fruit. But he encountered another man - Jesus - whose vineyard was the world, its fruit the eternal souls of men.
This novel is extremely well researched, and that alone adds much depth and interest to the narrative. In fact, one of its strengths is how vividly it shows the greed, lust for power, political turmoil and danger of the times. Most of the words that Jesus spoke were taken straight from the Scriptures and indicated by footnote. And I loved seeing how the Jewish people sung or chanted passages from the Psalms as they traveled to celebrate feast days. Their familiarity with and memorization of Scripture was inspirational.
Scripture doesn't indicate what occupation Lazarus had, so he is portrayed as a highly respected vineyard owner - and the themes of cultivating grapes, pruning, wine making, and Jesus as the vine are prominent throughout. It is interesting to see Lazarus interact with familiar characters such as John the Baptist, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus.
One questionable aspect is that the authors identify Mary of Bethany, Mary Magdalene, and the unnamed woman caught in adultery as one and the same. While some commentators take this position, it is not universally held as being accurate. But when it comes to biblical fiction, I remind myself that it is exactly that - fiction - and find inspiration in these characters and events during Christ's ministry.
The story is told through the voice of Lazarus, which could be why the character of Martha wasn't fleshed out at all. Reviews are subjective, so other people will have different opinions, but I didn't feel a strong connection with Lazarus or sense the close relationship he had with Jesus.
One of my favorite parts was the scene in heaven during the four days Lazarus was in the grave - a reunion, but also a glimpse at what was to come. In the words of Lazarus: "I stood in wonder in the midst of the ancient ones as they spoke of what was, what is, and what will be. Love. Envy. Rejection. Betrayal. Suffering. Victory. Exultation. Reunion. Forgiveness. Salvation. Restoration. Deliverance." And then, after being called forth from the tomb, "Of all those who witnessed my return from the vineyards of heaven to fallen earth, only Jesus knew what joy and beauty I had left behind."
I enjoyed When Jesus Wept overall and am eager to read more books by this talented husband and wife team. Recommended to those who enjoy inspirational biblical fiction.
For more information, visit the Bodie and Brook's website at thoenebooks.com.
This book was provided by Zondervan through the BookSneeze program in exchange for my honest review.
May 17, 2013
This is a very good book
When Jesus Wept is a fiction story based on true events, Just like most of Bodie Thoene's other books. This one was based during the time when Jesus was performing miracles, including raising Lazarus from the dead. I don't always like books that are based on Bible Stories, especially when they are written as if they are true. That was not the case with this book. this is the Introduction to the book:
"Jesus clearly believed in the power of stories. He told parables-stories-to stretch the minds and transform the hearts of his listeners. We too believe in the life-changing power of stories, and thats why we're passionate about writing fiction. In every work of our fiction, there is truth, based on research, and there is imagination, based on our minds and perspectives. We weren't here, on this earth, as Jesus walked among the people, but through the verses of scripture and our imagination, we have portrayed to the best of our ability what he might have said and in the way he might have said it."
The Thoenes include many references to scripture to back up their stories. I thoroughly enjoyed the story as much as I enjoyed the way it was written. Bodie Thoene is one of my favorite authors, and I knew I wouldn't be disappointed with her latest book.
The book, when Jesus wept, is mostly based on the life of Lazarus. He sees Jesus' miracles, meets and becomes friends with Jesus, experiences Jesus bringing him back to life, and is there for Jesus' crucifixion.
One thing that I found especially interesting was that Lazarus owns a vineyard. We recently planted grapes, and it was neat to read a professional who had done it.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone; especially anyone who is interested in learning what life might have been life during Jesus' life on earth.
May 16, 2013
This book takes you into life in Israel around 30AD. The descriptions of owning and managing a vineyard are wonderful. I loved seeing the ministry of Christ from Lazarus` viewpoint. If you've ever wondered how did Lazarus become ill, they have presented a very plausible explanation. Though we will never know the true story this side of heaven.
May 8, 2013
A stirring historical read
Bodie and Brock Thoene have created a stirring account of the life of Lazarus in their latest book, "When Jesus Wept". I have always been curious about how Lazarus and Jesus met and formed a relationship, and the authors have done a tremendous job of staying true to the Biblical account while exploring how their friendship may have formed. The result is a moving, entertaining story that is sure to please fans of Biblical fiction! The rich historical details that they have woven into the novel add a deeper meaning to the story as readers witness how radical Jesus was compared to the typical Jewish man of the day and in that culture. It is no wonder, then, that Lazarus was drawn to Jesus and his gentle spirit and his wisdom! Some of my favorite scenes included the conversations Jesus and Lazarus had about Jesus being the vine and about the pruning that occurs in our lives with a result of wonderful fruit. These scenes offer deep truths that can encourage all of us as we walk with God and yet experience hard times and so seek a purpose behind what we are experiencing. As a whole, the characters have been beautifully developed, and I love the way the Thoene's fleshed out not only Lazarus but his sisters Mary and Martha also. The story moves along well and is written with the Thoene's usual skilled pen.
If you are looking for a well-written fiction book set in a Biblical setting, then plan on picking up a copy of "When Jesus Wept". You will come away with a greater appreciation of Lazarus and his friendship with Jesus, and will not only be entertained but inspired as well. I award this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Zondervan, and Litfuse Publicity Group for the purposes of this unbiased review.
April 23, 2013