Television and movie versions of Bible stories usually repel me. I avoid them as either brutally graphic with too much blood and gore or too Hollywood, i.e. using gelatin to depict the parting of the Red Sea.
But several months ago, my sister and I watched an episode of The Chosen. I decided to give this TV version of the Gospels a chance.
Halfway through Season 2, and I am hooked. This depiction feels more realistic and worthy of the story. So I’m following this series for 3 reasons:
The Realism of Jesus as a Man. The writers and producers have shown the son of God as also the son of man — a craftsman from the unexceptional town of Nazareth.
The actor, Jonathan Roumie is attractive, but not the drop-dead gorgeous of so many others who have played the role.
I like how he’s not 6’5” and not pale white. His strength comes from within rather from abs grown in a gym. He laughs readily and shows a mouthful of uncapped teeth. He grimaces, winks, sometimes frowns.
In one episode where he spent the day healing multitudes of suffering people, this Jesus admitted, “I am so tired.” Barely able to stand. Ministry exhaustion. Reality.
And when he does heal someone, he looks them in the eye and connects with the soul. He seems genuinely delighted to have met the need. Often kisses them on the cheek or holds them close.
I can relate to this version of my Savior and long for his physical touch.
The Role of Women in the Series. Not merely add-ons or occasional mentions, this series reveals the truth that women also followed Jesus.
We see three characters who travel with the usual band of male disciples. But these women are also included as students when Jesus teaches. They play an important role, sometimes besting the guys and proving they, too, are worthy to follow the Rabbi.
They don’t just prepare food and serve the fellas. In fact, in one episode, the women are studying scripture while Thomas and Matthew cut up the cucumbers for dinner.
In another episode, it is an Ethiopian woman who commandeers her friends to lower a paralytic through the roof. Jesus heals the man and acknowledges this woman’s role.
Cudos to Dallas Jenkins, the director, and his staff for breaking the patriarchal chains of most Jesus movies.
The Reality of Being a Disciple. My favorite reason for following this series is to observe what happens to the various disciples.
Matthew, characterized with Aspergers, yet chosen especially by Jesus to record the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. His logic and obsessive personality adds to the reality of the show, but is also treasured by this Jesus.
Andrew, often known only as Simon’s brother. Here he is shown as a dedicated follower who converted from John the Baptist to Jesus. The same back story describes Philip who plays his role with a quirky humor yet passionate strength.
James and John — constantly disruptive as the sons of thunder who need to be taught the value of humility. And Simon Peter, always impulsive and a slow learner yet gradually catching up to his leadership gifts.
What I like about the scripts involving all the disciples is that they are not super saints.
Somehow we think that once they answered the call to “Follow Me,” they became mature in their faith and immediate writers of the New Testament.
But no. They doubt, struggle, fail and question this amazing Jesus. Their faith is messy. Half the time, they don’t understand what Jesus is talking about. His metaphorical stories remain clueless.
Just like us. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts unfamiliar to our mental scuffles.
These disciples — like us — argue with each other and judge each other. They want to learn and grow, but that means they will have to abandon what they’ve been taught before.
They must move from religious comfort to the scary and messy building of a relationship with Deity.
Just like us.
To be one of The Chosen today is both a blessing and a difficult task. But if we can be known as those who love because of His love — even when it’s messy — then perhaps more people will choose to join the real Jesus and his plan to change hearts and lives.
Hope is shared in this TV series. Check out The Chosen and let me know your opinion.
©2021 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
Pastor Tanner knows how challenging it can be to follow Jesus. Check out his story in The Year of my Redemption.