Sundays are for Book Reviews: Lazarus Awakening

“Who was Lazarus anyway? He doesn’t speak a single word in the Bible. We have no record of his great acts of faith. Yet he is described as the one Jesus loves.”

This is a fitting introduction to Joanna Weaver’s newest book, Lazarus Awakening. It’s true that we don’t know much about Lazarus himself at all, apart from the love that Christ had for him. Love without reason, not because of works or accomplishments, love that depends more on who Christ is than on who we are.

Weaver camps out in the book of John, concentrating on the well-known passage from John 11:1-12:12 where Lazarus of Bethany dies and is resurrected. Weaver has written two other books focusing on the two sisters of Lazarus — Martha and Mary — so she knows the background well. Through a very thorough reading and exposition of the text, Weaver shows how we were all figuratively dead in the tomb as Lazarus was and were called out of darkness thanks wholly to the love of Christ.

The attention to detail in this book is wonderful. I love how Weaver spends so much time on the text of Scripture and how she fluidly and easily relates Christ’s actions in this story to His actions in other Gospel stories. While I disagree with some of her conclusions (mainly a section where she suggests that “God might have a you-shaped hole, an emptiness that only you can fill”, page 35, and her conclusion that Christ’s tears had more to do with His intense love for this family in Bethany than they had to do with His intense hatred and loathing of sin and death), I appreciated the constant emphasis on grace apart from works or worth. Christ saves us not because of who we are and what we do but because of who He is and what He has already done. What a wonderful message!

Many thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book to review. All opinions expressed are mine entirely.

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