Everyone in Bethany admires Martha—the perfect Jewish woman. She feeds and clothes her loved ones, looks after the family farm, and meticulously follows every precept of the Pharisees’ strict laws. But Martha is hiding a secret. At her sister’s marriage feast, she gave her heart and her innocence to a young musician who promised to return and marry her, but instead betrayed her love and abandoned her.
Seven years later, only two people in Bethany know of Martha’s secret sin: her brother, Lazarus, and Simon, the righteous Pharisee to whom Martha is betrothed. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha is faced with a choice: send for Jesus to save her dying brother—risking the wrath of Simon who threatens to betray her—or deny Jesus’ healing power and remain trapped in her tomb of secrecy and lies.
Meanwhile, on the shores of Galilee, Isa roams the wilderness, tortured by demons and knowing only that someone is waiting for him. When he is healed by Jesus, he finds that seven years have passed since his descent into madness. Isa journeys home to Bethany only to find he is too late to win back Martha’s love.
When Martha risks all to heal Lazarus, will Jesus arrive in time, or will he—like Isa—come too late?
“The Messiah, the Holy One of God, had come. And it changed everything.” (p.291)
Mary and Martha….you rarely say one name without the other. Yet in Stephanie Landsen’s novel, The Tomb, you learn to know Martha and her family very intimately. I was intrigued that Landsen chose to start so early in their family’s history. Lazarus was but a child when the book began, and I couldn’t begin to imagine how the author would take us to his death and resurrection. The journey was important, and well completed within the pages of this novel, and the reader gets a glimpse into the ancient world that these biblical characters would have lived in and the customs of daily living that would have defined their day to day existence.
Because we begin so early in this family’s history, you are able to better understand both Mary and Martha’s personality traits that are revealed in Scripture. You are better able to grasp the true salvation experiences that they went through when Lazarus died and was risen again to life. There is quite a bit of liberty taken with the Biblical account of Martha’s life and her life choices that made me quite uncomfortable. But this is fiction, and the story was told in historical context, and the details of the biblical account were adhered to…so my stress abated somewhat when I reminded myself that I wasn’t reading fact..but fiction.
This is a well-written story with well-developed characters that you come to care about in a meaningful way. You will identify with their heartache and their joy….their salvation….it’s quite touching!! For me, I had to ask myself what my relationship with Christ would have been had I walked the earth when he walked the earth and witnessed this miracle? A very thought-provoking read!!