7 February, 2023

Let’s Talk About . . . ‘The Chosen’ (Season 3, Episodes 1-2)

by | 25 November, 2022 | 4 comments

We typically review movies in this format, but today is our second article reviewing a streaming series about the life of Jesus. As always, we provide talking points and questions to help explore spiritual topics and to share your faith experience with family and friends. 

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The Chosen (Season 3, Episodes 1–2) 

Unrated • 2017 • Historical Drama • 2 1-hr. episodes  

Starring: Jonathan Roumie, Elizabeth Tabish, Paras Patel, Shahar Isaac  

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By Andrew Wood 

Previously in this space we reviewed The Chosen, seasons 1–2, an innovative and imaginative retelling of the story of Jesus. Today we’ll discuss season 3, episodes 1–2, which were released as a 2-hour showing in theaters Nov. 18. They pack an emotional impact that makes them worth the extra effort to see them right away rather than waiting for them to appear on streaming services. 

A MAGNETIC AND PERPLEXING JESUS 

Jesus, of course, is the greatest strength of the whole series. Lead actor Jonathan Roumie convincingly captures the enigmatic aspects of the Savior’s character: his compassion, intensity of conviction, authority, and joy with a sense of underlying sorrow over the human condition. 

In season 3 his ministry in Galilee is gearing up—he gathers his apostles, preaches electrifying sermons to swelling crowds, and plans strategy for expanding the ministry all over Israel.  

It’s particularly interesting to see the reactions of Jesus’ disciples and the crowds to his message. When asked what exactly Jesus said, they have trouble explaining it in a coherent way, responding along the lines of, “He talked about birds and fish and everything upside down—the poor made rich and the rich made poor. And that we can love our enemies. Can you imagine that?”  

Their sense of surprise, confusion, and fascination goes a long way toward helping a jaded modern audience recover that sense of wonder at learning from the Master for the first time.  

HUMOR AND SORROW 

The Chosen humanizes Jesus and the apostles by giving them a sense of humor, which they most certainly had, but that doesn’t always come across in Scripture to modern audiences.  

The apostles have nicknames such as “Big James,” “Little James,” and “Z,” for Simon the Zealot. Sending them out two by two, Jesus deliberately pairs Big and Little James to the laughter of the group.  

“What?” Jesus replies, “They can make it a thing. Humor will help get the message out.”  

Love interests provide other lighthearted moments. Thomas (Joey Vahedi) is head-over-heels for a charming young woman following Jesus. Peter (Shahar Isaac) and his wife struggle to find time alone with other disciples crowding their tiny house. Importantly, Jesus recognizes the demands placed on the wives of the disciples and tells Peter’s wife, Eden (Lara Silva), “I see you.” 

Humorous interludes in the script are anything but frivolous. The humor helps relieve the tension of emotionally weighty material.  

John the Baptist is in prison, poignantly hopeful of release. His situation seems a foreshadowing of what awaits Jesus and those who follow him. “Little James” is played by Jordan Walker Ross, who has a real-life disability that causes him to walk with a limp. His character tearfully challenges Jesus for not healing him and learns why God’s calling for him, and his resulting testimony, might look different than God’s plan for others.  

AUDIENCE REACTIONS 

Leaving the theater after a showing in Bellevue, Neb., senior couples Mark and Cindy and their church friends, Gene and LeAnne, couldn’t even make it to the lobby before earnestly discussing what they had just seen. Asked what they thought was the most moving part, Cindy brushed away tears and said, “Little James. I have asked Jesus the same things so many times. Tonight, I felt like I got an answer that finally satisfies me.” 

Christian Standard’s last review of The Chosen pointed out that the imaginative backstories created for the characters could be confusing for viewers who are unfamiliar with the Scriptures. Gene said he did not think this was a problem.  

“You have to understand this as a way to get people interested in Jesus and asking questions about him,” Gene said. “After they get interested, they need to get into a good Bible study to learn what it really says.” 

I personally was most touched when John the Baptist (David Amito) reminded the apostle Andrew (Noah James) that, as confusing as Jesus’ messages are, they always contain something just for you. Andrew reflected that Jesus’ message for him was “do not be anxious.” As his namesake and someone who has battled anxiety for many years, I found this part of the film startlingly pointed and healing, as thousands of others who have a similar issue no doubt will as well. 

SEE FOR YOURSELF 

If you’d like to experience The Chosen for yourself and see how it ministers to your situation, it’s easy and free to see the first two seasons. Anyone with a computer, smartphone, or smart TV can view seasons 1–2 at www.angel.com, through multiple streaming services, or by downloading a free app—The Chosen: Stream the Series. Season 3, episodes 1–2, is showing now in theaters and will be added later to the streaming platforms. Seeing it can be a meaningful part of this year’s holiday season for you. 

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If you’d like to take your discussion of this series with others to a deeper level, try some of these questions: 

  • What are some things Jesus taught that you find confusing? Do you need answers to those things before you follow him, or could you follow him with unanswered questions? 
  • Is it hard for you to imagine Jesus having a sense of humor? Why or why not? 
  • What are some things you asked God for but did not receive? Can you understand better now why he didn’t answer those prayers in the way you wanted? 
  • Do you think we have more stress and anxiety today than people did in Jesus’ day, 2,000 years ago? Would you want to trade places with them? 
  • How do you think you would have responded if you lived at that time and were called to leave everything to follow Jesus? How would you respond today?  

Andrew Wood, a former missionary to Ukraine and professor at Nebraska Christian College, is a freelance writer.   

4 Comments

  1. Chuck Hochmuth

    Thank you for sharing… My wife and I are huge fans of the series. Recently we attended a showing with several friends and had a lively discussion at a local restaurant after it was over. About the same time I exchanged a series of texts with an individual who has critical issues with the series. We need to be discerning about anything that bears the stamp of humanity. On my office shelves I have hundreds of books about Jesus written by men and women. In like manner I always approach each of these volumes with a healthy dose of discernment. All of that said, thus far I have been extremely pleased, challenged, and moved by the message of The Chosen. Perfect? No. But such a delight.

  2. JonRoy Sloan

    This is the most important TV series of our lifetime. It is the antidote to series like Game of Thrones and Yellowstone.

  3. Debbie Klahn

    We went to see it. We agree with the review. So many good parts hard to pick a favorite. I think maybe Little James and scene with John the Baptist, both made me cry. I saw myself in both apostles.

  4. Mark Frazier

    I think we have to take what this series gives, which is an objective view of Jesus and his interactions with the disciples and various other factions. It is extraordinarily done and I feel very intuitive.

    Jesus would have to be humorous and exemplify all the great qualities of a leader. How else could he effectively interact with so many different personalities.

    I especially like that the disciples are all about the same age as Jesus. This just makes sense, and would be the age group he could relate to best.

    Kudos to the entire production team for giving us something positive to watch during these turbulent times.

    I say quit being so critical and be entertained and touched emotionally. Then open your Bible and view the New Testament from a new perspective.

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