This week, I took a break from movie night and decided to jump into a new series, thinking, just one episode, and then I’ll go to bed. An episode is shorter than a movie, right? But after I watched the first episode, I couldn’t help but watch the next episode.
This is how they get you, friends.
Maybe you have better self-control than me, and if so, way to go with that fruit of the Spirit. I, on the other hand, can’t help but press the “okay” button when the TV asks me ever so gently, “Next Episode”? Yes I will, next episode. It’s just one more.
Anyway, the series I started and can’t wait to keep watching is called The Chosen, and I am hooked.
The Chosen: What to Expect
The Chosen is a television series about the life of Jesus Christ from the perspective of the people that encountered him. It begins from the point of view of Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter, Matthew the Tax Collector, and Nicodemus, portrayed in all of their gritty humanity in first century Roman-occupied Jerusalem and surrounding cities. If you’ve ever wondered what it might have been like to encounter Jesus in a Jewish, Middle Eastern world, The Chosen provides a glimpse that makes the two-dimensional characters of your Bible pages spring to life.
The Chosen is a crowd-funded media production from Angel Studios, free to watch online through their website or on your mobile device, or if you’re like me, you can pay to watch on Amazon if you didn’t realize it was free to watch on their website when you first began the series. It is in its second season, with five more seasons to go. I’m just two episodes in and can’t wait to watch more!
Finding the Love: Faithifying Your Viewing
We all want to see Jesus. There have been dozens, maybe hundreds, of shows and films that have tried to capture versions of Jesus. Artists have painted and sculpted Jesus in a million different shapes, sizes, ages, temperaments, and postures. All of these glimpses throughout history give us insights into how the people of that age pictured the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the Lord of Lords. He’s been portrayed as Caucasian Jesus, Southeastern European Byzantine Jesus, Chinese Jesus, Native American Jesus, Black Jesus, even Buddy Jesus.
Each age and its people paints Jesus in its own skin tones. He looks like none of us, and he looks like all of us. Christ is in us; he is in me and in you and in your Black neighbor and your Korean neighbor and the Russian immigrant down the street.
The variety of shapes and sizes of Jesus depictions is a beautiful representation of this spiritual reality: Because he is in us, we are all one, just as Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
It’s easy to “find the love” in a TV series about Jesus. But why this series, and why now? What I find most captivating so far in The Chosen is not just the attempt to capture with cultural, ethnic, and historical accuracy the people surrounding Jesus and Jesus himself, from the religious rulers to the Roman guards to the Jewish fishermen and their wives. This is compelling, yes, but even more than these portrayals, I am moved by the depiction of these people as complex, conflicted humans, just like we all are.
Jesus was fully human and fully God, but so often I feel as if I’m missing the humanity of Jesus in portrayals of him in film and art. He seems distant, other, stoic, and eerily calm. He moves as if he’s floating, not walking.
Jesus appears only briefly in the first two episodes of The Chosen, but in episode two, Jesus winks at one of the men sitting at the table.
I want to see more of the Jesus who winks. I want to experience more of Jesus’ joy, more of Jesus’ overflowing love and peace, kindness and goodness, patience and gentleness, which surely overflowed from him in the Gospels as the utmost example of being filled with the Holy Spirit. As I continue to watch the series, I am eager to see the actor portray more of the human and divine Jesus—in his historical and cultural setting—which will help make the stories of the Bible come alive.
Angel Studios has secured crowd funding for the first two seasons and are working towards funding season three. If you want to make sure all seven seasons of The Chosen are able to be produced, go binge watch something that will enrich your faith and then support the future production by visiting The Chosen’s website.