I don’t usually like Christian tv shows, but The Chosen is different. It’s different because it’s good.
Typically, films I’ve seen about Jesus try to skip the imaginary small talk in order to force Jesus into red letter mode. While I understand the drive for Biblical accuracy and not adding to Scripture, the drive for accuracy makes most films about Jesus thoroughly boring.
That’s why when I heard about The Chosen for the first time from a friend, I blew it off. Then I heard about it from my parents, and I shrugged. Jesus movies and Christian tv have disappointed me so many times that I didn’t even want to give The Chosen a try.
But then my wife watched the first two episodes with a friend and loved it! After two weeks of her bugging me to sample the first episode, I caved.
And like I said, The Chosen is different. From the first episode, I was hooked. And since I suffer from a very addictive personality, we binged 11 episodes in a little less than a week. Each of us have looked at the other and said at least twice, “This might be the best thing I’ve ever watched.”
Watching The Chosen has led to a mini spiritual revival in my family. I’m not overstating this, and I don’t mean to gush, but I can’t help it. I’ve cried. I’ve laughed. I’ve seen myself in many of the characters (not Jesus), and I’ve been able to read the Gospels and see Jesus through a new lens. As I’ve binged, I’ve relearned these 7 things about Jesus.
7. Jesus Walked Everywhere.
I know it sounds obvious, but it’s so easy to miss. I often unconsciously inject modern conveniences like easy transportation into Scripture. In terms of modern drive time, Israel doesn’t sit on a massive plot of land, but if you’re walking everywhere, Jesus’ journeys from town to town are no joke.
It also highlights Jesus’ intentionality when he visited multiple towns to preach and teach. He didn’t just drive to the next town 10 miles down the road. He walked.
Even in more supernatural displays, he walked. When a crowd tried to push him over a cliff, he walked away. And when he walked on water, he walked. It’s interesting that his ministry didn’t need a new jet to be effective.
6. Jesus Was Jesus Even Before the Miracles Started.
In Episode 3, Jesus teaches children, and they help him/ learn from him as he carves wooden toys. Before he heads to another the town, Jesus leaves toy horses, a small dollhouse, and a note for one of the young girls, a girl who happened to be from a poor family. The note read, “Abigail, I know you can read. This is for you. You are very special. I did not come only for the wealthy.”
Although it’s not a Biblical scene, it points to how he might have used his hands to love the least of these even before he began performing miracles.
5. Jesus Honored His Mother.
If you’re a Catholic, you probably don’t have a hard time remembering this. But I do. In The Chosen, Jesus is shown simultaneously honoring his mom and calling her his “immah,” the Hebrew equivalent to “Mommy.”
When he turns water into wine at a wedding, it’s because of his love and respect for her. Jesus simultaneously honors Mary with his tenderness toward her while still accomplishing his mission. Episode 11 captures their relationship so effectively, it makes me want to call my mom.
4. Jesus Embraced Socially Awkward People.
The creators of The Chosen brilliantly wrote the character of Matthew the disciple with ticks, an obsession with cleanliness, and lack of social awareness. Most educators today would place him somewhere on today’s spectrum of autism.
Just like Matthew, none of the other characters feel stylized or smooth. For example, the woman at the well annoyed me with her neediness and enthusiasm. But while being slightly annoying, she felt like a real person who I actually could meet on a normal day.
At no point does Jesus show contempt for socially awkward people. He seems to seek them out, choose them, and enjoy them.
3. Jesus Worked Hard.
In Episode 11, Jesus heals people well into the night. And after this long day of interacting with sick people, he arrives back into the camp sweaty and exhausted. His cheek is even stained by a slight splatter of blood.
Before watching it, I never realized that even before He went to the cross, He sacrificed Himself by working hard to serve others. At the end of the episode, he walks slowly back into camp, wipes his face, and goes to bed without saying much.
2. Jesus Calls People With Big Flaws to Ministry.
Instead of portraying the disciples as serious students who barely speak while the red letters are being spoken, the writers of The Chosen dive deeper into imagined personalities and possible back stories that bring the disciples to life. Simon Peter gambles, fights, and views himself as a self-made man. Matthew is autistic. Andrew cracks jokes. And one of the Jameses has a limp.
Most of them struggle with a lack of forgiveness, lack humility, tribalism, and some of them even dream of being famous. All of these flaws exist in the disciples, and Judas hasn’t even joined them yet.
Jesus doesn’t penalize his disciples every time they fail. He forgives them and allows them to keep ministering.
1. Some People Knew Jesus Was the Messiah and Still Didn’t Follow Him.
In a fictional moment while Jesus meets with Nicodemus in secret, Jesus asks Nicodemus to follow him. He tells Nicodemus where and when to meet him and his disciples for the next leg of their journey.
Nicodemus is a teacher of the law and a Pharisee with a high position. He would have to leave the life he’s built to follow Jesus. His wife’s wishes, his grandkids, and his career ultimately keep him from following Jesus even after He confesses his belief that Jesus is the Messiah.
On the day, Nicodemus is supposed to meet them, he hides behind a wall as Jesus calls, “Is this everyone?” When his disciples answer, “Yes,” Jesus looks at the wall Nicodemus is hiding behind and says, “Are you sure?”
On the other side of the wall, Nicodemus is seen weeping.
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