Even though I’m a Christian, I’m not one to willingly watch Biblical dramas, because I’ve seen my fair share of disappointing renditions. However, The Chosen – Dallas Jenkins’ crowdfunded series about Jesus – is one of the best Biblical dramas I’ve seen in a while, if ever. The writing is good and the casting was considerate. It takes an interesting angle at exploring the life of Jesus, and it tries to immerse you in Jewish culture. It’s not as painfully low budget-looking or whitewashed as most movies and shows in this vein that I’ve had to sit through.
As I watched, I found myself wondering: is it called The Chosen because it’s about Jesus, the original Chosen One? (You know, before man started creating stories of Chosen Ones like Anakin Skywalker). OR is it called The Chosen because it’s about the disciples Jesus chose to follow Him and who answered His call while He walked this earth? I considered this after watching the first episode, since Episode 1 does not have Jesus in it until the very end but rather focuses on introducing to us Nicodemus, Matthew, Simon Peter and Andrew, and Mary.
One thing that strikes me about the way they wrote Jesus, even in his brief appearance in Episode 1, is their portrayal of his divinity and his humanity. Jesus is shown to be compassionate, loving, patient, and forgiving. He performs miracles. He spends his nights praying and cherishes moments playing with and teaching children. He values women and respects leaders. He also works hard and gets tired. I like that the writers gave him a sense of humor and that he’s not easily offended.
The interesting part of watching or reading Biblical fiction is wondering which aspects are creative license or conjecture, and which parts are straight from scripture. Watching The Chosen has compelled me to reread the Gospels. It’s almost Easter, so it’s highly fitting right now – although the Gospels are always relevant!
The first two episodes of The Chosen are strongly connected to each other. They set up the plot for previously demon-possessed Mary, the “fisher bros” (Simon and Andrew), and the tax collector Matthew. The third episode slows down and focuses on Jesus as he spends time with children. This episode has touching moments but is a little dull. However, it did an excellent job of reminding me of Jesus’ humanity. Seeing Jesus do “normal” things made it a little easier to picture what He thinks of me as I try to walk with Him in the simplest areas in my life, like when I take a break from my busy schedule to play with my dogs, or when I cook a meal when I’m exhausted after a long day of work. Or when I do something creative, since He was a carpenter! When Jesus walked this earth, He experienced so many things we experience in our daily lives. He truly understands us and takes great interest in us. Watching The Chosen helped me remember His great love for people and for me.
Sometimes I feel uncomfortable watching actors portray Jesus. I don’t want to have an actor’s face in mind when I close my eyes and try to imagine Jesus as I pray. But, in this case, I don’t think I’ll go to sleep with this actor’s portrayal in mind – even though he does it well. It’s not distracting, and so it reassures me.
Whether you’ve been burned by low budget Christian media before, or if you’ve never had any problems with it, I think you’ll enjoy this series. It’s several steps in the right direction to the quality of writing, casting, and directing that Christian content deserves. I hope it continues to do well, and I’m glad I chose to give it a chance. You can watch The Chosen for free until the end of April on VidAngel, or on The Chosen App, or on their YouTube channel, or on Pure Flix.
If you’d like to hear about the creation of The Chosen, you can check out Kevin’s previous podcast with Dallas Jenkins! If you’re interested in learning more about VidAngel and why they are offering April for free, you can listen to Kevin’s most recent podcast to hear him interview VidAngel co-founder Neil Harmon. Be blessed, and Happy Easter! Christ is Risen.
Photos from The Chosen press kit.
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