At the end of every show in the series The Chosen, my 11-year-old daughter asks with surprise: “What?! It’s done already? Can we watch another one? Pleeeaseeee!”
While my husband and I are pretty particular about limited screen time, we've indulged her every now and then. There could, of course, be the distinct possibility that we watched “another one” because we're pretty hooked ourselves — but those are technicalities we don’t necessarily have to bother with right now (ahem!).
My family and I are super late to the party, but we’re huge fans of The Chosen. We’ve been doing what the series’ creators set out for viewers to do — #BingeJesus.
Honestly, I was a bit doubtful when friends recommended the show. For one, Christian shows and movies have typically turned out to be mediocre productions. And secondly, I didn’t want my picture of Jesus to be reimagined by some guy sitting in Hollywood (no blue-eyed, clearly-Caucasian-with-a-spray-tan Jesus for me, thank you very much).
But the show has proved me and my silly hesitations wrong. There’s nothing “mediocre” about it and the Jesus that the show portrays has made my Jesus more vivid, more alive.
He is a Jesus who is real and relatable and yet holy and powerful.
A Jesus who kids around and yet has life-changing conversations.
A Jesus who is full of joy and yet also deeply thoughtful as he ponders the cross.
A Jesus who asks for water and yet pours out His very life.
A Jesus who is as vulnerable and human and yet clearly the Son of God.
But the show’s focus is a Jesus who invites the weak, the unwanted, the forgotten, the rejected, and the despised.
He welcomes them, He includes them, He wipes the slate clean, and He gives them a new identity.
While not all the incidents and conversations in the show are lifted straight from the Bible, the intent is clearly Biblical: to glorify God by portraying how He lovingly chooses people to be part of His family.
He does that for Matthew, the tax-collector for the Romans who is hated by everyone, whose own parents have disowned him.
He does that for Mary Magdalene, the prostitute in the Red Quarter who is possessed and suicidal.
He does that for an angry Simon who is so desperate for financial relief that he is willing to negotiate with the Romans at the expense of his fellow Jewish friends.
By weaving the ‘before’ stories of these soon-to-be disciples into the narrative, the director Dallas Jenkins draws us in.
And, maybe, we too begin to identify with their pre-Jesus stories of anger and misplaced passion, of being the object of scorn and disdain, of being left out because we’re different, of giving into sinful compulsions and being trapped by those actions.
Jesus invites these seemingly hope-less people to “come and see” and He re-writes their stories.
I love the conversation between the disciples Philip and Matthew as they follow Jesus on His travels.
While he has left his job as a tax collector, Matthew still does not fit in with the other disciples. He is still the outlier and the outcast.
Matthew confides in Philip that everyone sees him as the enemy because of his past sin. Philip then responds with these wise words:
“I was something else once, too. Once you meet the Messiah, am is all that matters.”
Am is all that matters
What a powerful message. We are not defined by our pasts. In Christ Jesus, we are given a new identity and a new hope.
That is the message of The Chosen.
I do hope that my daughter continues to ask for “just one more show” because that will give me the excuse to #BingeJesus.
And even as I watch stories of Him unfold on the screen, I remember that He is writing our stories and we can trust Him to make something beautiful out of the broken pieces.