Christianity, Shows

Compelling, delightful, unexpected: The Chosen

The Chosen

Season 1

10 out of 10 stars

What is it?

The Chosen is the first ever multi-season series about the life of Christ. It was, and continues to be, created and directed outside of Hollywood. Creator and Producer is Dallas Jenkins. He hosts and posts many podcasts about the journey as it is progressing, making it really interesting to discover not just how the stories affected the people in the time of Jesus, but also see how these same stories are still working in the lives of those re-living them today!

The Chosen is the most successful tv-crowd-funded campaign ever (to date): 15,000+ investors have raised over $10 million! And as the seasons continue, that number keeps growing! The goal is to make this a 7-season series. This allows The Chosen to develop personalities and hypothesize back stories. It allows us viewers to relate to the characters and see Christ with fresh eyes.

As of the time of this blog article first being published, two seasons have been completed, (and season 2 is just as addicting!) and the third season is in progress.

Ultimately, The Chosen is a story told through the eyes of the people who surrounded Jesus using a combination of scripture and artistic license. It’s not scripture. It’s not adding to scripture. The focus is on the humanity of Jesus. What’s added? Cultural and historical context. It was designed to flesh out the Bible stories which Christians grew up with and bring them to life.

At the beginning of each episode we see the swirl of grey fish all swimming in one direction. One big blue fish swims against the current. Eventually, another, smaller blue fish turns and follows the big blue one …. and another, and two more … etc. In the end, there are thirteen blue fish swimming against the current! … It’s like WOW! Jesus is the big fish! No duh! and he chooses 12 apostles to follow. … and become FISHers of men. … and if I did deeper, can it be that as the flow of time continues, other “fish” will be “chosen” to go against the stream? Who might that next one be? … HMMMM…. maybe me? maybe you? …

. . . Which leads me to think about the title of the show

The Chosen. Not the Chosen ONE. It’s a show about Jesus, but NOT. Because He is the Chosen ONE. … The Chosen is told by the ones whom He chose as followers. Yes, Jesus is a huge part of this show. But more in the way the others see Him, in how they know Him. … They are Chosen to follow Him. So also are the people of Israel. They are the Chosen. And again, I am Chosen … and so are you! …

So many layers!!

I think that’s what I like about this show. In this first season there are so many layers, so many story arcs, so much to think about! Although the story follows scripture, the program makes the disclaimer that there stories are made up based on the way it might have been. Conversations and background stories are created so that the TRUTH might be told in a way that sparks the imagination. The creators/producers etc encourage all people who watch this to read the Gospels to find out how the stories came forth from the Word.

A handful of things I really love about the show:

I love this show. I have binge-watched the whole season a couple of times. I love how fleshed out the people are. I love how quirky Matthew is. I love the distinct lives of each of the characters. … When I was a kid, I would listen to the Bible stories and in my head, Jesus was just this holy man who performed miracles and then was gone. When it was time to perform another miracle, he popped up where he was needed. I didn’t know Jesus as a live person. He was a pop-up Jesus. In this series, Jesus is real. Peter is real. Nicodemus is real. Even the Romans and Pharisees are real. Each has a specific personality. Each character demonstrates the good and bad of who he or she is. There are no pop-up cardboard people in this show!

I also love the opening teasers. Each episode begins with a mini-backstory. It may be hundreds of years prior to the episode or even just 30 years prior. Regardless, it is a little piece of the rest of the story, a connection to motives or just an explanation of the WHY of something that happens in that episode. It is done well and adds nice flavor.

And I will just tell you one more thing before I delve into each of the episodes. I love love love the humor in this show. Jesus laughs at himself. He pokes good fun at the others. He enjoys life. This is a man with a great way of being. He knows when to laugh and when to be serious. He speaks with his entire being. That being said, Jesus’s eyes speak volumes. When he looks at another person, that person is filled with the knowledge of being KNOWN. That person desires to know HIM. All of this is demonstrated in each of the episodes. It’s amazing. It’s powerful. It’s really good … like you HAVE HAVE HAVE to watch this!

And so Season One begins …

Episode 1:

101. I Have Called You By Name
Episode 1 Season 1: I Have Called You By Name

Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, Peter, and Andrew are introduced. We meet Eden – who is Peter’s wife. We meet Matthew. Spoiler alert: Matthew is a character that totally captures the screen! At the beginning his character makes me think of Albert Einstein – who it is said had a closet full of the same suit jackets so that he didn’t have to make a decision about what to wear. After more exposure to Matthew, I think of a highly intelligent person, a savant on the Asperger spectrum. Wait ’til you see him. You will be intrigued with him.

We also see Nicodemus’s failed attempt at an exorcism on Mary Magdalene. … He later claims that she was so in the hold of evil that only God could have saved her.

At the end of this episode we meet an unnamed man who calls Mary Magdalene by name.

Only God Himself could have drawn them out.

Episode 1: Nicodemus discussing the demons that failed to come out of Mary Magdalene

Episode 2:

102. Shabbat
Episode 2 Season1: Shabbat

Nicodemus hears of Mary Magdalene’s healing and goes to see for himself. He can’t believe that his exorcism took hold! He finds her and asks how long after he visited her was she healed. She informs him that it wasn’t him who healed her, but someone else. This opens his eyes to wonder and exploration of the divine.

Peter and Andrew are on the verge of losing their boat. They have no money to pay their taxes. Peter comes up with a plan to save their boat … He makes a deal with Quintus, the Roman in charge of the area. Peter agrees to tattle on who the fishermen are who make catches on the Sabbath and thus get out of paying taxes for their catch. Andrew doesn’t like the idea.

We see Matthew the tax collector trying to work up courage to drop in for Shabbat dinner at his folks’ house. He ends up back at his own place, on the ground, leaning against the wall, sharing his food with his dog.

We meet James and Thaddeus. They show up at Mary Magdalene’s for Shabbat dinner – her first in many many years. The man who called her by name arrives for dinner too. He introduces himself as Jesus.

We also get to see Nicodemus’s Shabbat dinner.

Episode 3:

103. Jesus Loves the Little Children
Episode 3 Season 1: Jesus Loves the Little Children

We see Jesus fully human. He is camping in the outskirts of town. He is working with tools to create wooden items to sell. He cooks, prays, washes his feet. He builds a fire. He brushes his teeth. A young girl named Abigail discovers his campsite when she goes out in the fields to play. She discovers the campsite and spies on Jesus. She returns the next day with her friend Joshua. Jesus of course knows the two are watching and encourages them to visit. Abigail asks him what he is doing. He tells her he is a craftsman. He shows them a wooden lock and key he is making. He also makes things people need – like toys and household articles. She tells him her family doesn’t have money so they don’t buy toys.

The following day, two kids return with friends. These seven children visit Jesus every day. He has them help him with tasks and he chats with them, talks to them about God, teaches them the Our Father. He listens to them pray the Shema, the Jewish confession of faith. He gets a little choked up hearing them … The kids start asking him questions. Over many days we see them interact. He tells them stories, goes fishing with them, sings with them, discusses God, the stories of their faith, and love, and His work.

Jesus finishes the lock and key set. we see him working it in the evening by the fire. He is satisfied and says, “It is good.”

Jesus makes wooden horses and a little Galilean house which he leaves for Abigail when he leaves his camp spot. He leaves a note saying he did not come only for the wealthy.

What’s your favorite food?”

“Hmm, I like so many different foods, but I especially love bread; for many reasons.”

Episode 3: Abigail’s friend Joshua and Jesus

Episode 4:

104. The Rock On Which It Is Built
Episode 4 Season1: The Rock On Which It Is Built

Peter is made to direct the Romans to the fishing vessels who are working on the Sabbath. He causes them to hit a sandbar.

The Tax Collector Matthew is assigned by the Romans to follow Peter and record everything he says and does.

Eden’s emau (mother) comes to live at Peter & Eden’s house. She is sick. Peter is not happy with another mouth to feed.

Andrew tells Peter that he has seen the Messiah.

Peter has to make a catch of fish or he will lose everything. He goes out fishing all night. He doesn’t catch anything. At some point in the night, Andrew, James, & John go out to join him. They still don’t catch a thing. Matthew witnesses this. When Peter returns to shore, Andrew sees Jesus teaching a small crowd of people on the shore. He introduces Peter to Jesus. Jesus asks to sit in the boat to teach so the crowd can hear him better. When he is finished, he tells Peter he knows Peter is in trouble. He tells Peter to go out a little and cast the net. Peter argues at first, then does … He ends up with the catch of his life. It is enough to pay off his taxes. He tells Jesus to depart from him because he is a sinful man. Matthew sees the miraculous catch. He doesn’t understand what’s going on, but he is intrigued.

Even people bark sometimes!”

Episode 4: Matthew to his dog watching Peter fish

Episode 5:

105. The Wedding Gift
Episode 5 Season 1: The Wedding Gift

Nicodemus visits John the Baptist in Prison

Asher & Sarah are getting married in Cana. Dina is the Groom’s mother. Jesus’s mother Mary is Dina’s good friend. Mary arrives to help Dina prepare and set up. Dina is excited. She is also concerned because the groom’s father and mother are a little “above” her family financially.

Thomas is introduced. He works for the catering service.

We see much of the celebration of a Jewish wedding.

The wine runs low – and then runs out. Mary asks Jesus to do something. Jesus has the servants fill up six stone jars normally used for ceremonial cleansing with water. He sends everyone out of the room and changes the water into wine. Thomas is in disbelief. Jesus invites him and the other caterer, a female named Ramah (Pronounced Ray-mah) to meet him in Samaria in 12 days.

Episode 6:

106. Indescribable Compassion
Episode 6 Season 1: Indescribable Compassion

The followers are breaking down camp. Jesus sends Peter to visit Eden before they go further.

Jesus meets an Ethiopian woman named Tamar and speaks to her in her native tongue. While they are speaking, a leper comes. The leper tells Jesus that his sister was a servant at the wedding. (She was Thomas’s partner.) Jesus heals him. Jesus tells him not to say anything to anyone.

Jesus goes to James’ & John’s parents’ house. Their names are Salome & Zebedee. People find out he is there and come to hear him speak. Matthew is part of the crowd. He sits on a roof and ends up sitting next to the children Jesus befriended in episode 3. (That’s a fun twist little twist as well as a sweet moment in the story line.)

While the crowd gets bigger and bigger, Tamar and a group of friends arrive carrying their paralyzed friend to the house. It is so crowded that she has her friends take him to the roof and drop him down in the presence of Jesus. She asks Jesus to heal her friend.

Jesus tells him his sins are forgiven. Some Pharisees are listening and are appalled. Jesus then tells the man to stand up and walk. The Pharisees are so upset that they try to get to Jesus to accuse him of blasphemy. Jesus’s followers get Jesus out the back door before the Pharisees are able to get him.

Nicodemus also witnesses this miracle.

Episode 7:

107. Invitations
Episode 7 Season 1: Invitations

Matthew visits his mother. Although he is “dead” to the family because he is a tax collector, she lets him in. He is having a crisis of faith and needs to work through his thoughts. She doesn’t really understand him and has him leave.

Jesus meets with Nicodemus in the night. There is a tender, beautiful moment when Jesus holds Nicodemus’ face in his hands. This is the famous meeting of “one must be born again”

At the end of this episode Jesus walks and his followers walk past the tax collection stand. Jesus turns and calls Matthew to follow him. It is another wonderfully real, wonderfully believable, even a little bit funny moment. Matthew leaves his post, hands the key to the Roman guard assigned to protect him at the job, and he follows Jesus. The Roman guard’s name is Gaius. This vignette of Matthew’s calling is so precious. We see Peter totally have a cow: He tries to tell Jesus who this guy is and try to convince him that this is a really bad idea. It’s another real moment. It is so plausible that the viewer is sure that THIS is how the calling of Matthew really happened. It is so rich. You HAVE to watch this show!

Give up who I am?”

It is true, there is a lot you would give up, but what you would gain is far greater and more lasting.”

Episode 7: Conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus when Jesus asks him to follow

Episode 8:

108. I Am He
Episode 8: Season 1: I Am He

The band of followers go to Samaria. Jesus speaks with Fatima at the well. She believes he is Messiah and tells the whole town.

Matthew hosts a huge feast at his house. The Pharisees knock on the door to see who is at the meal and see Jesus eating with the dregs of society. Jesus tells them that sick people need a doctor. Gaius arrives at the door also, though not to join the meal, but to try to convince Matthew not to give up the tax collection post.

I desire mercy more than sacrifice.”

Episode 8: Jesus quoting the book of Hosea to the Pharisees

Now go watch it for yourself! You won’t be able to stop!! It’s compelling. It’s delightful. It’s unexpected.