From ‘Left Behind’ Back to Jesus

Shortly after Dr. Tim LaHaye and I finished the last title in the Left Behind series, we sat to chat … Continued

Shortly after Dr. Tim LaHaye and I finished the last title in the Left Behind series, we sat to chat about our future. We had developed a father-son type of a relationship over 15 years (he’ll be 83 this year) and we weren’t ready for it to end.

We recognized that it would be unlikely for either of us to see another Left Behind phenomenon (65 million books sold), but our goals have never been income or book sales, but rather to communicate a message.

As we were discussing possibilities, I said, “Tim, it strikes me that of all the things you’ve written and preached about over the years, it really comes down to one thing: your subject is Jesus. How about we move away from writing about the future and write about the past?”

That was really the germ of the idea for a series of novels based on the Gospels. Before long Tim was off and running with ideas and commentaries, and we were fortunate to find that the Penguin group was as excited about the possibilities as we were.

John’s Story came first, then Mark’s Story. The paperback of the latter releases this month, along with the clothbound version of the next, Luke’s Story. And we’re finishing Matthew’s Story now.

What fun it has been for me as a novelist! I grew up on the stories of Jesus, but haven been given the privilege of fleshing out the details is a challenge I have relished. I always wondered, for instance, who was the boy who gave his five loaves and two fishes to Jesus, only to see him feed thousands with it. What was he doing there? How did he react? The Jesus Chronicles allows us to speculate, and it has been fun.

A reader wrote and asked about a scene where we have Jesus slap at a bug on his neck while sitting with His disciples around a fire one night. Then he nudges it back to life with His thumb and it flies away. Naturally the reader wanted to know where this was found in Scripture.

Of course, it’s not there. But that’s the appeal of fiction. We are determined to stay as close to the biblical record as possible, but because these are novels, if we don’t violate the spirit of the Bible, we believe we’re free to speculate. Our mail tells us our readers agree.

Why did John decide to write his gospel? Who was Mark as a young man? How did Luke, a physician who never met Jesus personally, become a believer and write his account? And how did Matthew, a despised tax collector, become one of the twelve?

This has been our adventure as we’ve written The Jesus Chronicles.

Jerry B. Jenkins is co-author of the best-selling Left Behind series of novels. He is chairman of the board of trustees for the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.

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  • chuckbarb23

    Jenkins and LaHaye make a fortune out of vicious fiction and are now expanding their commonwealth of nonsense. It’s a wonderful world we live in, folks.

  • norriehoyt

    “A reader wrote and asked about a scene where we have Jesus slap at a bug on his neck while sitting with His disciples around a fire one night. Then he nudges it back to life with His thumb and it flies away. Naturally the reader wanted to know where this was found in Scripture.”If Jesus did that, he was a Buddhist, not a Christian.

  • s_j_thaikattil

    Dear Dr JenkinsSince I have not read any of your books, it is a wonderful opportunity for me to know about the kind of books you write as a result of your essay here. I look forward to reading a few of them sometime. I have enjoyed reading C S Lewis and TRR Tolkien and know with what power fiction can convey the deeply spiritual messages of Jesus. I hope you have childrens’ fiction for every single parable Jesus taught, the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount or you will write them if they don’t exist.Wishing you great success with your work for Jesus Christ!Soja John Thaikattil

  • s_j_thaikattil

    I have read somewhere, (I can’t say how reliable the account is) that in the Gospel of Thomas which gives childhood account of Jesus, once Jesus is supposed to have been playing on Sabbath Day making doves out of clay. (We know from His adult life that breaking Sabbath rules was His favorite pass time!) Someone complained to His mother about Him having already fashioned ten clay doves. When His mother scolded Him for breaking the Sabbath rules, He clapped His hands and all the clay doves took life and flew away!

  • ThomasBaum

    TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERNOne of the things about fiction written to convey a point is that it is a story to make a point, it is not adding to or subtracting from the bible.In the posting, the boy with the loaves and fishes is mentioned, could it be that no matter how insignificant, in our human understanding what someone has to offer to God, maybe whatever someone offers to God freely, is greatly appreciated by God.It clearly says, “My Ways are not your ways and My Thoughts are not your thoughts”, does it not?Another thing, in the bible, Jesus numerous times downplays His Miracles, could it be because so many people get so wrapped up in the miracles that they don’t even see Who they are pointing to?Another thing about the miracles performed by Jesus, it seems that many are so caught up in the physicality of them, which is temporary, rather than the transformation of the person or people involved which sometimes occured.God has a Plan and God’s Plan is for ALL OF HUMANITY to be with Him in His Kingdom, the new heavens and the new earth, and God’s Plan which is unfolding before our very eyes will come to Fruition.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    CCNLOn another post you wrote, “My bible actually has 382 pages, said pages being fictional, semi-fictional and embellished accounts of the lives of a whole host of characters to include A & E, Noah, Abraham, Moses, “pretty, wingie, talking thingies”, Jesus, Mary and Joseph.”As you should know, this is just your interpretation and opinion.Just because some people want to look at the bible as a scientific account of some things does not mean that they are looking at it as it should be looked at.There are all kinds of different writings in the bible and some of them are quite literal and simple, so simple in fact that some people refuse to even contemplate that God could speak to us so directly and to the point that even a child could understand.Even tho I have met God and God has chosen me to be a spokesperson that does not mean that I know what everything in the bible means, what it means is that God will let me know what I need to know to do what He has chosen me for.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.