Authors: Bodie and Brock Thoene
Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN: 978-0-310-33593-1

My understanding of who Jesus was became clearer as the weeks passed. The light of his life among us was like sun shining on the new berries. His teachings were the water, nourishing thirsty clusters, making my faith grow and ripen,” Lazarus writes in Bodie and Brock Thoenes’ Jerusalem Chronicles Book One, When Jesus Wept.

With over three hundred and thirty pages, the book is a retold tale from the Thoenes’ twelve book series, A.D. Chronicles, but hones in on Lazarus’s viewpoint only. With no profanity or uncomfortable situations except for slavery and illness from plagues, the tome is targeted toward Christians who enjoy enhanced fictional Biblical stories. There are three maps of the area in the beginning of the book and footnotes that include Biblical psalms and songs used listed at the end of the book. This reader wishes all pronouns related to God or Jesus were capitalized for reverence.

Written in first person by David ben Lazarus, the man who Jesus raised from the dead after four days, the authors have taken liberal liberties of Biblical history. Lazarus is a wealthy vineyard owner whose wife and newborn son have recently died. After his thirty days of traditional mourning, he watches John the Baptist baptize this Jesus of Nazareth who everyone claims to be the True Messiah. Fascinated yet confused by the simplistic Man, Lazarus happens to meet Him more often as stories are told that correlate with both Old and New Testaments. Lazarus’s sister Martha and step-sister Mary are pivotal characters as they become friends with Jesus, having Him at their houses often, walking with Him through their wineries.

An interesting undercurrent to the story is the vineyard and its vine selection and placement, pruning and harvesting, dealing with pests and insects, and producing the wine along with flavoring and storing. The authors do an excellent job linking the care, concern, protection and love of the vineyard to the one True Vine and how He shapes and molds our lives.

With emotion, heartache, realization and justice, Lazarus learns to put his focus on eternity instead of the world as he dies and is restored to life by Jesus. A novice may not realize that the man is actually mentioned in only two chapters of John in the Bible. But by condensing the four Gospels through the eyes of one man named Lazarus, the words flow as one recollects and recalls famous Biblical stories and people.

This book was received by the publisher for review purposes.

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