“Page-turning . . . Set against the political and religious turmoil of the times, the Thoenes’ story vividly reimagines the evolving friendship between Jesus and Lazarus.” —Publishers Weekly
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’s 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. When Lazarus’s story and the story of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection touch in When Jesus Wept, we are offered a unique vision into the power and comfort of Christ’s love.
Brock and Bodie Thoene’s most powerful and climactic writing project to date, When Jesus Wept, captures the power and the passion of the men and women who lived through the most important days in the history of the world.
About the Author
Bodie and Brock Thoene are best-selling authors of over seventy works of historical fiction. Their timeless classics have sold more than thirty-five million copies in twenty-three languages and won eight ECPA Gold Medallion Awards. Visit them online at www.thoenebooks.com Facebook: Bodie-and-Brock-Thoene Twitter: @BodieThoene
Read an Excerpt
When Jesus WeptThe Jerusalem Chronicles
By Bodie Thoene Brock Thoene
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2013 Bodie Thoene and Brock Thoene
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe sun rose over the garden where my wife and newborn son lay in a newly cut tomb. Thirty days had passed since my Eliza had died in childbirth, taking with her all my hopes and joy. Spring had come to Judea. The vineyards were all in bud, bursting with the promise of new life, but in my heart, death reigned. My life had been pruned as savagely as the most severely clipped and seemingly barren vines in the depth of winter. Ironically, today was my thirtieth birthday.
By rote I spoke the final words of Kaddish and placed two stones of remembrance before the grave. The official days of mourning were at an end, but as I walked to the Bethany synagogue mikvah to wash away the ashes of my sorrow, I still carried the weight of my grief with me.
Near the ark containing the Torah scrolls, a minyan of ten village leaders prayed the morning prayers. They did not look my way or speak to me of Eliza and the baby. There was nothing left to say. Custom declared that this morning was officially the moment for me to get on with living.
I accepted their seeming indifference as I stepped into the cool bath and immersed myself, sinking my curly, unkempt hair into the water's tomblike embrace. When I emerged, I still found my thoughts returning to the beautiful woman I had loved with all my heart, and to the baby boy who had lived only three short days.
If only ...
Did my persistent sorrow show in my face? Did resentment for the brevity of grief permitted me reflect in my eyes?
Judah ben Perez, my friend since childhood, greeted me when I had dressed in clean clothes and emerged into the late spring sunlight. Now we were both widowershe for many yearsbut I resented and rejected any comparison between his stoic acceptance and my too fresh, too painful sense of loss.
"The peace of HaShem is with you, David ben Lazarus, my brother!" His tone was too bright, as if he had forgotten Eliza was gone. His words hurt me like light hurts the eyes when one looks directly into the sun.
"And with you, Judah."
"Welcome back." He took my arm as though I had been gone on a long journey. "Have you heard the news from Jerusalem?"
Being a rich merchant in the nation's capital, Judah was much better positioned than most to receive the news from the wider world. His trading caravans regularly made journeys to and from Petra, Ecbatana, and Alexandria. Amphorae of oil or wine or dates or wheat, each bearing the clay seal of the House of Perez, were frequently seen on the docks of Caesarea Maritima. From there they were soon en route to Antioch, Athens, and even Rome itself.
The Roman province called Coele-Syria that stretched from Damascus to the Nile included the Jewish homeland and was rightly called the Breadbasket of the Empire. Pomegranates and sycamore figs grown on my land took their places in the straw-lined baskets of commerce conveyed by Judah's export company.
Sometimes it amused me to think that grapes from my Bethany estate, raised under my care, picked at my direction, crushed under my supervision, and transformed into wine of my vintage, made much longer voyages than ever I had done or dreamed of doing.
I never cared to visit Rome, but the fortunes of my house were increased every time a Roman senator's wife praised the product of my labor. Therefore, I had always looked forward to Judah's reports.
He was counting on that interest now. As transparent as was the device, I was still grateful for his concern.
Though the politics of Rome and Jerusalem were unfolding a mere two miles from where we stood, I shook my head. I had heard nothing of the outside world for the past month. "What now?"
"The new Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, is staying at old Herod's palace. He has held meetings with Caiaphas and Annas. The high priesthood is well and truly in the complete control of Rome. Sacrifices are offered daily by Caiaphas in the Temple for Rome and Emperor Tiberius. Every synagogue is commanded to pray for Tiberius."
"May HaShem bless and keep Tiberius ... far away from the land of Eretz-Israel." I smiled slightly as I uttered the rabbinic blessing for our oppressors.
"Tetrarch Herod Antipas has taken Herodias to his bed."
"The wife of his brother."
"And here's the big news ... Caiaphas himself performed the marriage ceremony. The sect of Pharisees is in an uproar. A very quiet and fearful uproar, but even so ..."
I pondered this news. "It's sure to lead to unrest in the countryside, where people still have a conscience. What will Pilate say about such an unholy union?"
"Pilate could care less about his morals. I mean" he glanced over his shoulder before continuing"was there ever a more wicked ruler than Tiberius Caesar? As long as our people do not fall into open rebellion, and we hold our tongues and pay our taxes and"
"Pay and pay and pay. Was there ever such a time as this? Come, Messiah! Deliver us!"
"Herod Antipas has gathered up his entire court and gone off to his palace in Galilee for the season. Out of sight of the people and Pilate."
I walked with him toward the road that led to my home. "That's better for all of us. May HaShem bless and keep Herod Antipas ..."
"Far away from us ..." Judah paused.
The departure of Antipas from Jerusalem was a good thing. His oppressive rule was far worse than that of his father, Herod the Great. Antipas was fully controlled by Rome, while possessing the same vices as his "Butcher King" father.
Judah's strong jaw stiffened as he waited until a group of village women carrying laundry baskets passed us on the road. When he was certain no one could hear, he resumed. "Well now, my friend, let me tell you. There is unrest in the air. There has come a man ... a prophet or a lunatic, depending on who you ask. His name is John. Some say he is Elijah the prophet returned, as holy prophecy teaches. He appeared in the wilderness east of the Jordan, preaching against Rome and Herod Antipas. He calls the common folk to prepare for the coming of the Kingdom of God. He warns of HaShem's judgment: fire and destruction raining down upon the House of Herod."
I stopped in my tracks and studied my companion's excited face. Was this ripple of rebellion the same feeling that had caused the Maccabees to rise against the Greek oppressors some two hundred years before?
"Either a fool or a true prophet of the Lord. What do you think?" I asked.
"I've been waiting to go see for myself."
"For you to return to the land of the living." He raised his eyes toward the gates of my home, where my sister Martha waited for me. "Would you like to come with me? To see this fellow yourself? To hear what treason he speaks?"
I did not answer at first but considered all I had heard. Such a man was not only a danger to himself, but dangerous for everyone who stopped to listen to him. "Work in my vineyard is what I need to focus on."
Martha raised her hand in greeting. "Shalom, Judah! Good morning, my brother! I have a meal prepared. Enough for you too, Judah."
Judah laughed. "As always, Martha. Enough for me and ten others."
"Will you stay and sup with us?" she asked.
"I will. So much to discuss with your brother."
"David ... welcome back from your long journey." Martha kissed me. "It is a new day, my brother. Was all well at the synagogue?"
We would not speak again of Eliza and the baby. "It seems prayers for rebellion against Herod Antipas have been heard," I replied, touching the mezuzah on the doorpost and reciting the blessing.
"Beautiful day, then." Martha led Judah and me to the dining table, laden with the finest foods. A feast to bring me back to an enjoyment of life. It occurred to me that Judah had planned all along to walk me home. We did not speak openly about the present state of corruption among our leaders but discussed Scriptures and the history of our fathers, who had managed to survive corrupt and apostate kings in generations before us. In this way we explored the world we lived in, by remembering what had gone on before.
Had there ever been a time like this in all the history of Israel?
The answer was yes.
Was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob faithful to those who remained faithful? The answer, of course, was yes. But that did not mean good men would not suffer for the sake of our holy commands.
Judah and I ate slowly, chewing on God's Word as the true feast of our minds and hearts. Hours passed and my pain lessened. I was surprised by my ability to smile at my friend and my sister again. Only the night before I had doubted I would ever smile again.
The last prayer of thanks was given, ending our meal marking my return to life from the House of Mourning.
My sister Martha concentrated on the matters of the house and servants. Her work for me and my estate was perfunctory and effective. But the house seemed bland and flavorless without the great love and joy of my wife to season it.
My heart lived in the dungeon of despair. At night, in the time when darkness exaggerates everything, my thoughts were without the hope that morning would ever break.
Chapter TwoIn spite of my sorrow, I welcomed the sun each day. Work was my one consolation. The vines of the House of Lazarus were lush and beautiful. My winemaker was a thin, sun-parched raisin of a fellow named Samson. He had spent his life in the vineyards and risen through the ranks as a laborer to become one of the finest vintners in the land. Under his supervision my vineyards flourished, and the Lazarus estate wines were praised in the halls of the great.
Very early one morning I mounted the white mare to survey my property. Samson preferred to ride a donkey, which allowed the little man to be closer to the ground. Three of Samson's pet goats followed after us.
"You see, sir, I bring my own 'cheesemakers' with us. Very good with wine and dried apricots." Samson whistled to the goats, whose pleasant faces seemed to smile in agreement.
We rode through the vines planted on the rocky limestone of the south-facing vineyard. The fruit on these vines was smaller and the foliage less exuberant than the opposite side of the hill.
When I commented on this, Samson slid off his obedient mount, patted his goats, and leaned in to examine a tight cluster of grapes. He plucked two berries, giving me one and holding the other in his open palm. "Inhale the aroma, sir."
I obeyed. The fragrance was rich and sweet. "Ahhhh," I breathed.
Samson was pleased with my response. He gestured, and together we popped the berries into our mouths at the same moment. The f lavor burst on my tongue. I let the juice linger.
"Good," I said.
"An understatement, sir, if I may be so bold."
"Intense," I corrected.
He plucked a bunch and handed it up to me. "Breakfast. It's good to be alive on such a morning as this, if I may say so, sir."
"Good. Yes. But still not easy."
Samson joined me in our impromptu meal. With a wave he embraced the struggling vines. "These are your most faithful vines, sir. They struggle for water every season. Set their roots deep in search of every drop. Pull flavor from the limestone and thin soil. And their clusters are filled with passion for life."
I agreed. "This south field will make our finest wine this year."
"Every year, sir. I do admire the heart in these vines." He held a deep purple grape up to the light. "Not like their brother vines, who have an easy existence growing on the opposite side of this same hill. Not so much flavor in the fruit. Grown from the same cuttings. Planted the same year. But an abundance of water and less harsh growing conditions in the northwest field has made the grapes ... hmmm. If I may say, sir ... the vines on the north produce more fruit but with much less character."
I held another grape to my lips and sucked the juice. "I once heard my father say he would pull out these vines and plant something else."
"Your father was a fig grower at heart. Not a winemaker, begging your pardon," Samson suggested.
"You talked him out of that, if I recall."
"I had to prove him wrong, sir, if I may say so."
"And so you have done."
Samson glanced toward the fading pastels as the sun rose above the horizon. "Vineyards. The only crop I know where a hardship in the maturing makes the end result exquisite." He turned his face toward me. Behind his drooping eyelids I saw that he understood my hardship.
"What about a righteous man like my grandfather?" I challenged. "When Herod the Great took his vineyards?"
The old man leapt upon his donkey, then hesitated, considering his response. "There are hardships, some injustices, which only God can address. I am not a scholar of Torah as you are, sir, but I know the Scriptures pertaining to vineyards. If I may say, the case of what happened to your grandfather and the ancient vineyards of your familyis this not what the evil king Ahab did in stealing the vineyards of Naboth? In the time of the prophet Elijah, when Elijah preached against Ahab and Jezebel. And she had Naboth slandered and murdered in order to steal his vineyard."
"I remember well the story. And its conclusion. Such an act brought God's judgment on Ahab and his queen."
Samson waited for me to ride on. "Do you recall all of it, sir?"
I recounted the tale. "Ahab and Jezebel killed Naboth, the good vintner, and ripped out the ancient vines in order to plant a vegetable garden."
"And for murder and the theft and destruction of the vines, God's justice was fierce against those two."
"No bringing back the life of Naboth. Or replanting the vineyard."
"Heaven, they say, is a very big place with many beautiful vineyards. The Lord once showed my heart that Naboth lives. Naboth is in heaven ... alive and happy now. Naboth and his family tend ancient vines for the Ancient of Days. That heavenly vineyard produces wine we only dream of. But we who follow the words of the Lord will one day taste the heavenly wine."
"Omaine. And I will look forward to that day." I agreed with my lips, but my heart questioned that evil men like Herod could rip out my ancestors' vines.
We rode west toward the village of Bethphage, the House of Unripe Figs, which stood between Bethany and Jerusalem. As we approached the western boundary of my property, I saw a familiar hill. The beautiful vineyard and fig orchard before us had once belonged to my mother's father. Through injustice and treachery, it had been confiscated by old Herod the Butcher King forty years earlier and was now part of the royal estate of Herod Antipas. I knew what had provoked Samson to discuss ancient history, modern politics, and divine justice.
"Bikri," I murmured. The vision of my grandfather's betrayer, now a wizened, pitiful old cripple, rose in my mind.
"Bikri, indeed, if I may say so, sir. Falsely denouncing your grandfather, of blessed memory. Never was a finer man, nor a kinder, nor a more generous, than your mother's father, whose name you bear." Samson spat noisily and messily before wiping his chin on his sleeve. "Thrown in prison by old Herod on the word of a scoundrel like Bikri."
"They say Bikri was afraid for his own life."
Samson bristled. "Even so! He was supposed to be your grandfather's friend! And it wasn't just fear. It was greed! Now Herod Antipas holds title to what should have come to you."
"Never mind," I urged, despite dark thoughts of my own. Evil, it seemed, was never completely vanquished. The demons merely disappeared for a time and then claimed another host willing to do their bidding. Just as King Ahab of old had located false witnesses against Naboth, Herod had carried out a similar plot against my grandfather, except that my grandfather died in prison before his trial.
Shaking off the grim recollections, I added, "People say old Herod went through many horrors before he died. And we all know what became of Bikri. Father took me to gaze down on Bikri twice a year as I was growing up. Passover and the Day of Atonement. We always stood on the parapet above the portico where Bikri lays. Father said to me, 'Remember, son. Bikri is an example of God's justice.' I go there still when I am tempted to doubt God is a just and righ teous judge."
"Struck down in his prime before he spent half of the bribe money he received and now lives as a friendless cripple most of forty years," Samson agreed. "God is just ... at least in the case of Bikri. Still, I miss your grandfather. No bringing him back. And what he missed. The joy of watching his grandchildren grow up. I'm of an age now, dreams of grandchildren for me and Delilah. That's my goal." He patted the donkey and mused awhile as we rode. "It was wrong to steal his vineyard, wasn't it, sir?"
Excerpted from When Jesus Wept by Bodie Thoene Brock Thoene Copyright © 2013 by Bodie Thoene and Brock Thoene. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the first biblical novel I’ve read by Brock and Bodie Thoene, and it engaged every element I hope for in a great Bible story. The historical details were masterfully woven into the story, seasoning every character and scene perfectly—not so much that they overwhelmed or so little that they felt like an addendum. The Thoenes presented familiar Bible characters in ways that challenged my long-held assumptions, making me re-think the identity of the woman caught in adultery, Mary Magdalene, and Mary of Bethany. Who were these women, and what was their relationship with Jesus, Lazarus, and Lazarus’ sisters? Scripture gives some detail, but what does Jewish tradition say? What could we imagine to be true—given the cultural information that Brock and Bodie bring to life in such a realistic way? I expected to find a quaint story about Lazarus and his two sisters but discovered a truly moving account of a godly, less-than-perfect, hard-working man who dealt with unforgiveness and searched for answers to the same hard questions I’ve asked my Creator. At one point, while helping his hired hand deal with a matter of revenge, Lazarus asks this searching question: “Could it be that [your current] happiness [is] more important than revenge?” Other poignant and challenging themes run through this novel, drawing us to look deeper into ourselves and God’s Word through the eyes of these characters. With biblical novels, we always begin reading with some knowledge of the book’s direction and ending, right? I knew When Jesus Wept would detail the scene when Jesus stood before Lazarus’ tomb and wept with Martha over her brother’s death—but I wasn’t ready for the emotions I’d feel when I read those words. After reading this book, I understand the shortest verse in the Bible differently. “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) for so much more than Martha’s grief or even His own grief at losing an earthly friend. The Thoenes describe Lazarus’ reaction to hearing Jesus’ weeping from the grave: “…his holy sob ripped me loose from the timeless conversation with the ageless ones.” Have you ever wondered what/who Lazarus saw first when he walked out of that tomb? Brock and Bodie Thoene imagined it this way: “I [Lazarus] spotted Jesus over Mary’s shoulder. Sorrow for me filled his eyes. 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.” Beautifully written. Well researched. Spiritually challenging and uplifting. When Jesus Wept is a great addition to your biblical novel collection. Buy it. Read it. And then read it again.
it is a wonderful book. I read it on my Nook. i can not wait for the next book... Take this cup..... this book and the others books by the Thoene's add wonderful insight to the times they writ about. i only hope that Band N will add more of their witting to their store.
The man that Jesus raised from the dead, Lazarus, was one of the most extraordinary encounters that he'd ever done in the Scriptures. Lazarus lived Bethany, near Jerusalem, where his still holds interest well beyond that miraculous event. That moment was the most important moment in Jesus' events during his life and ministry. Lazarus devoted his life to caring for vines and fruit and owned a vineyard. When he encountered Jesus, the vineyard became the world and the fruit was the souls of the living. This book offers up a unique comfort and vision into the power and life of Jesus Christ. The days of Jesus' ministry work is the most important days in the history of the world. I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants to read and loves Jesus Christ or even to find him in your life.
When Jesus Wept was a masterpiece with every passing word. The story of Lazarus comes alive from the very first words, sending chills through me. The Bible clearly tells us that Lazarus was much loved by Jesus and this book shows that. Yes I understand that this is fiction but it is very believable fiction where a lot of the 'whys' in the Bible are given possible answers. There are pictures that swept through my heart like the part where Jesus turned the water in to wine. The part I loved best was of course where we are given a glimpse of what Lazarus might have exprienced when he died, it was painted in vivid words that made me long for heaven. I look forward to the next book in the series.
When Jesus Wept by Brock and Bodie Thoene This is the first book in the Jerusalem Chronicles. The Thoenes are prolific and accomplished writers and researchers. In this book they cover Jesus’ relationship to Lazarus. Lazarus was a vineyard owner in Bethany. He was quite successful and was well-known in his hometown and Jerusalem. The Thoenes create a scenario where Lazarus nurses the homeless boys in Jerusalem through a deadly plague. He is exposed to the illness and becomes very ill. Jesus delays in coming to him and Lazarus dies. When Jesus does arrive , he brings Lazarus back to life. The interesting part of the story is that it is told from Lazarus’ view point in heaven. Of course, the storyline is no surprise because it follows the Biblical narrative. However, the Thoenes enrich it with many probable details to make it flow. I found the details to enhance the story, rather than detract from it. I was captivated by their portrayal of Lazarus and found myself disappointed when the book seemed to end rather abruptly. This is a very enjoyable book and it moves quickly through the plot due to the Thoenes ‘clear prose. I found myself wanting to read the next book. I appreciate receiving a free copy from Booksneeze and this is my honest opinion.
I was turned off early on with the composite character combining Mary of Bethany, the woman caught in adultery and Mary of Magdala. I am now reading Take this Cup which I find very exciting.
I was turned off early on with the composite character combining Mary of Bethany, the woman caught in adultery and Mary of Magdala. I am now reading Take this Cup which I find very exciting.
Heartfelt scriptures intertwined with the imagination of what people during this time saw and witnessed....a must read!
All of the pertinent exerts from the bible appear closely intertwined here and not as disjointed as when the passages are read in scripture. What I mean is that the bible makes it seem that these events took place over a significant amount of time and this reading makes it seem to happen at closely related times, the story gels more in my mind. Most historical religious fiction appears that way to me and makes the scripture passages easier to remember,
When Jesus Wept is a versatile story that is tightly knitted in a deeply affecting way and perfectly through-provoking. It is also invigorating in view of its unconventional timeline. Ultimately, I enjoyed the book, but with a few minor reservations — I liked it! ___________________________________ WHAT I LIKED + When Jesus Wept is a story that follows the life of Lazarus, and additionally deals with Israel’s reaction and response to John the Baptist’s ministry as well as the ministry of Jesus. While ostensibly heartened, it is also the type of story that makes their protagonist go through so much you cannot help but observe and connect with the character(s) in a very up close and personal sort of way. + From a storytelling point of view, When Jesus Wept was conveyed in a profound and deeply affecting tone that resonated in a way that made me go into my own little world. It’s not the sort of storytelling that simply tells a story, but it’s the type of storytelling that touches the heart and moves the soul. It truly is the one aspect of the book that lured me in — and with a story that is so earnest in its presentation, it’s impossible not to be won over! + The world building, mood, and tone in When Jesus Wept makes a strong impact. Everything from the culture surrounding this era, the ethical and racial clashes, the response to loss, to John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ ministries — all of it felt stunningly vivid and poignant. Needless to say, the way in which Bodie and Brock Thoene managed to grab snippets of Biblical stories we are all too familiar with and craft them into a beautiful story arc that comes to life before your very eyes. . .mind! is simply extraordinary THINGS THAT MADE GO HMMM. . . - My only main gripe with When Jesus Wept was with the excessive amount of scattered information where the reader is told on numerous occasions how wine is produced and the methodical process that entails planting and tending a vineyard. Granted, there was a considerable amount of truth and symbolic meaning behind the authors’ motives in choosing this tool to depict and provoke the reader into a more visual thought process — it behooves me to say, however, that at times, the redundant use of Scripture and the overly saturated symbolic metaphors drove me to absolute distraction. Full Review @ http://www.mysoulcalledlife.com/2016/09/30/book-review-when-jesus-wept-by-bodie-broke-thoene/
Well, this is the first book I have read by the Thoenes in years! My first historical fiction book was from their wonderful WWII series, and I always felt that they had the formula for writing historical fiction, especially in relation to history involving Jews. And they have not lost their touch as they tackle ancient Israel and the time of Christ. I love good Biblical fiction, and this definitely counts as such. From the first page, they drew me in. They made me consider portions of the well-known story of Lazarus and his family in a different way, and I was emotionally drawn into the story in a way I never have before. I am glad to know that this is the first in the series, and I can hardly wait to read the rest in the series! If you think that you know all there is to know about Lazarus, Mary, Martha, and Jesus, let me challenge you to give this book a try. You may find that you are pleasantly surprised. I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
Awesome book! They are fab authors. Feel as tho you are living the storyline
Fantastic Book! 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.
Bodie and Brock Thoene in their new book "When Jesus Wept" published by Zondervan takes us into the lives of Lazarus and Jesus. From the back cover: 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's 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. When Lazarus's story and the story of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection touch in When Jesus Wept, we are offered a unique vision into the power and comfort of Christ's love. Brock and Bodie Thoene's most powerful and climactic writing project to date, When Jesus Wept, captures the power and the passion of the men and women who lived through the most important days in the history of the world. We pretty much know the story about Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. That is until now. Bodie and Brock Thoene in their new book, "When Jesus Wept" has given us a fictionalized story about Lazarus and his time with Jesus as well as many other encounters that were told us in the Gospels. Obviously it is not the Bible however it sure is a lot of fun and gives us a better picture of what life with Jesus might have been like back then. All the subplots that the Thoene's have worked into this book help the narrative and I liked it a lot. I am certainly looking forward to the next book in this series. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Two thoughts about this book: How do the Thoenes write the way they do? And: I am sure glad that When Jesus Wept is the first in a new series. I may have been sitting on my couch in an April afternoon reading the first chapter of this book, but my mind was with David ben Lazarus in Israel as he rode among the grapevines. This book is written so vividly that the heat can be felt, the grapes can be tasted and you want to pet the pleasant faced goats that follow you through the vineyards. The scene, Israel under Roman oppression during the time Jesus began to publicly minister, comes to life. As you read you understand a little of the turmoil and pain that being Jewish under Roman rule must have involved. Biblical events such as John's Baptizing and The Wedding at Cana are woven into the story and the character's lives, allowing you to read the Scriptures with richer eyes. The characters themselves are complex and carefully imagined: David ben Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, and Jesus, as well as the invalid by the pool and the blind beggar that Jesus healed. In this novel, Martha and Lazarus's sister Mary is the sensitive young one whom Lazarus married off to an old man in a profitable business deal. Now she is the wealthy widowed Mary of Magdala, who is still seeking love in broken relationships. Lazarus is bearing his own pain... the loss of his dear bride and their first child in childbirth, the loss of his best friend in an act of Roman cruelty. And Martha, sensible and sturdy, trying to serve her brother and praying for Mary to come home. This book is written so that the emotions and spirit of the characters glow. These men and women can see the brutality and injustice of the Romans, and the hypocrisy and corruption of the religious leaders, and they want Israel purged of these sins. They hope the the Messiah will do so, ushering in God's blessing on the nation. Do they realize their own hearts need cleansing and forgiveness, and that God may have another way of bringing His Kingdom? All of them are asking the question: Is this Nazarene the Messiah? I love the way the Thoene's write about Jesus, with passion and reverence and joy. You delight in your Savior when you read their books. Open this book and experience the days when Jesus walked in Israel though the eyes of David ben Lazarus, vintner of Bethany. Thank you for writing a great beginning to a new series, Mr and Mrs. Thoene! And thank you Litfuse for sending me a copy of When Jesus Wept.
You may have read a retelling of the story of Lazarus before…but I guarantee that it didn’t hold a candle to this particular version. Because this one? Is from Lazarus’s point of view. Before I give a few more details about that, let me mention that the amount of historical detail and accuracy in general relation to the time period in this book is simply stunning. I have been very impressed with all the research that the Thoenes have poured into all their books, including the A. D. Chronicles and the Zion Chronicles (two of my favorite series by them, especially the latter). But the detail isn’t boring at all – it’s just there, making the story realistic and enjoyable. Now, on to the other things I noticed. I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the beginning, I picked up some of the story of Ben-Hur! If you aren’t very familiar with the book/movie, you probably won’t notice – but I’ve read and watched it enough that I caught it. And it totally made me happy because it was worked in so well! Another thing that was described in fascinating detail and with great (though reasonable) imagination included the Cana wedding, where Jesus performed his first recorded miracle. I was delighted to again meet Peniel, who we originally came across in the A. D. Chronicles (I think…but it’s been a while since I read them). One interesting writer’s liberty that the authors took was making Lazarus’s sister, Mary (the woman we remember as being sweet and worshipping Jesus and washing His feet with her hair) into the same woman as Mary Magdalene (who came to Jesus’ grave later on) and also making her be the woman who was caught in adultery. Remember her? The one where the leaders accused her, and demanded that she be stoned – Jesus said that the one among them who was without sin should cast the first stone. I rather doubt that Lazarus’s sister was ALL of these women, but it certainly made for an interesting concept. One other liberty that the authors took was to make Lazarus into one of the disciples who was sent to fetch a donkey colt for Jesus to ride in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. I can’t recall if the disciples who are sent are specifically named or not, but I’m not sure if this is accurate. Other than that last thing mentioned, the entire book is amazingly accurate to the Bible and very believable. Much of the dialogue with Jesus is taken straight from the Bible (perhaps with slight editing to make it read more smoothly). The Thoenes are still writing strong, and I look forward to more books in this series! **Litfuse sent me a copy of this book in return for my honest review. I received no other compensation. All opinions and thoughts are my own. I was not required to post a positive review.**
When Jesus Wept is the first book of the Jerusalem Chronicles by Bodie and Brock Thoene. Bodie and Brock Thoene are best-selling authors of over 65 works of historical fiction and I have been privileged to read the Zion Covenant and The Zion Chronicles. I really need to read the other series of books they have written as well but for some reason I just have not gotten to them. However, when I found out I would be able to read and review the first book of the Jerusalem Chronicles, I could hardly wait for the book to arrive. This couple is well known to research history thoroughly to provide accurate timelines and historical data in the stories they write. The beginning of this book has me looking at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in a new light. I didn’t realize the strictness of the Roman rule and it definitely made me pay attention to the details as I read my Bible. The Thoene’s introduce Lazarus and the first part is about Lazarus before he and his sisters met Jesus. The whole account of Lazarus owning a vineyard and making wine was fascinating to me. The story goes on to the Wedding of Cana. Again, just interesting to see someone tell about this and give me different perspective on it. The book is divided into 4 parts and tells different parts of Jesus' ministry from Lazarus' perspective. The way the authors describe Mary was intriguing and again, gave me fresh perspective into her life and Martha's as well. It is hard to review a fiction book without giving away the story line. But I will say that I would recommend this book to anyone who has a mind for the creative and desires to see the Bible story come alive from another Christian perspective. I received this book from Booksneeze, a blogger program from Thomas Nelson, in exchange for my book review.
Makes you love the Savior and weep with Him. I will read it again and again.