Dallas Jenkins on godly ambition and season 4 of 'The Chosen'

If you’re not yet familiar with The Chosen, you might not believe the impact of this TV show about Jesus and his followers.

The groundbreaking historical drama about the life of Jesus has now racked up almost a billion views from 175 countries. With season 4 of The Chosen fast approaching, anticipation for the next chapter of this global sensation is reaching new heights.

Godly ambition

Director Dallas Jenkins is glad The Chosen has taken time to grow into a global phenomenon. Jenkins told Eternity, “Five years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to handle where The Chosen is today.”

Jenkins recounts a formative moment after his “biggest failure” – a box-office flop endured just as his work was generating serious interest in Hollywood.

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“I was licking my wounds: wounded, broken, saddened, disappointed and confused, because the results were so different than what I expected and hoped for.”

Remember: it’s not your job to feed the 5000.

Within that moment of failure, Jenkins’ wife Amanda sensed clear direction from God to read the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. At the same time, a phrase rattled around both of their minds: “impossible math”.

While Dallas and Amanda tried to make sense of it all, a total stranger sent a life-changing message to Dallas on Facebook: “Remember: it’s not your job to feed the 5000. It’s only to provide the loaves and fish.”

“The results are just not up to me.” – Dallas Jenkins

This beautiful image for working hard and entrusting the results to God has become central for The Chosen and their parent company “Loaves & Fishes Productions”.

Over time God has given Jenkins the “superpower” of letting go of the desire for praise and worldly success, “replacing those narcissistic or ambitious thoughts with Scripture”.

“I don’t care about it,” he continues. “I just care about making a good show that honors God and the gospels, making sure that I’m faithful to my wife and my family, and that we’re staying humble and broken in the process. The results are just not up to me.”

Kingdom impact

Of course, Jenkins does celebrate the (enormous) impact of The Chosen in growing God’s kingdom. The feedback he finds most gratifying is when countless fans of the program tell him they are reading the Bible more than ever and seeing Jesus more clearly than ever.

The Chosen is a show,” he explains. “It’s an entryway; it’s a supplement. So when I hear that it is allowing other parts of people’s faith – whether it’s Bible, church or their prayer life – to be even more engaged, that’s a great thing.”

Jenkins also rejoices to hear that many parents find The Chosen an invaluable resource. “I love when parents have another tool in their toolbox to engage their children with the Bible and with Jesus,” he says.

Season 4: deeper

Jenkins expects season 4 of The Chosen to foster more challenging conversations than any previous season. Asked to describe the tone of the season, he responds with one word: deeper.

“The answers won’t always come immediately.” – Dallas Jenkins

“Throughout history, Christians and non-Christians have wrestled with issues of ‘Why does God allow evil?’; ‘Why do some people get blessings and others seem to be cursed?’; ‘Where is God when you’re experiencing challenge?’; ‘Where is Jesus in the midst of oppression?’

“We really dive into that in season 4. We don’t rush through it. We know that in season 7 Jesus rises from the dead. That’s a joyous moment – it’d be nice and fun to just get there quickly so we can all celebrate. But that’s not life. That’s not the story of the gospel, and it’s certainly not this story.

The Chosen Season 4

“We’re willing to explore these very challenging themes and questions, and know that the answers won’t always come immediately.”

The disciples themselves will face confronting questions, such as the emerging leadership of Simon – who will now be called “Peter”. “I think you’re going to see some growth in all the characters,” Jenkins foreshadows.

A new perspective

Jenkins adds that not all of the growth will be positive: “We see the seeds planted for what ultimately leads Judas to one of the most impactful betrayals in the history of the world.”

But even here, The Chosen is an unusual opportunity to see Judas close up and “in 3D” – to see things through his eyes.

“Judas actually makes some interesting points.” – Dallas Jenkins

“I really do hope that we look at Judas, we look at people like Herod and we look at people like Schmuel the Pharisee, and say, ‘I’m capable of those thoughts too. I’m capable of missing the point as well,'” says Jenkins.

“I don’t believe Judas went into following Jesus with the intention of betraying him,” he continues. “I think that developed over time, and ultimately he was influenced by evil forces.

The Chosen season three still

Tamar, Mary Magdalene, Judas, Nathanael, Little James, Thaddeus and crowd Lionsgate

“But this season you start to see those steps taken, and I think Judas actually makes some interesting points – points that I would’ve made if I was following Jesus at that time. He is having certain expectations that aren’t met.

“At one point in the season, Judas says, ‘When are we going to start winning? We’re losing people; we’re losing followers; we’re losing popularity. We’re getting resistance from religious leaders who we need. If we’re going to change the world and defeat the Romans, when are we going to start winning?’ And I think that’s a question that a lot of Christians face: ‘When is this going to get easier.’

“Jesus was like, ‘I don’t care about winning. That’s not why I’m here. That’s way off in the future; for now, we’re focused on surrender.’ And Judas doesn’t quite get that.”

Watch ‘The Chosen’

The Chosen, and its golden opportunity to engage with Jesus and his followers in a unique way, is finally back. If you’re a long-term viewer, put 1 February in your diary, when season 4 comes to Australia.

And if you haven’t caught up, now is the time! With every episode available free online, what are you waiting for?

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