Everyday Christian: I waited too long to watch ‘The Chosen’ because I usually don't like Jesus shows
(I was an idiot)
Last week, as we watched the Olympics opening ceremony along with 2.12 million other Australians, I heard myself ask my husband a question I never expected to hear.
“Do you think it would be OK if we turned this off after the Aussies enter the stadium and go back to Jesus?” I said.
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“Yes,” he replied, a little too enthusiastically, and got busy googling the order of athletes to find out how much longer we had to wait.
It wasn’t that we don’t like the Olympics – we do, and we generally watch a lot of it. We had been looking forward to the Olympics and definitely wanted to cheer our Aussie team into the arena.
But this year, here I was saying, “Can we go back to Jesus?”.
No, this was not a moment in which I had become convicted of my backslidden ways. I wasn’t talking about salvation – well, not exactly. I was talking about the hit Jesus TV series The Chosen.
Before you stop reading this, let me assure you that – despite liking Jesus very much – I am not one of those people who like Jesus shows.
In fact, I am very far from being one of those people.
It’s not that I haven’t tried to support Christians who have felt called to attempt translating the Bible onto the screen. I went to the movies with church friends to see The Passion of the Christ and that very artistic Noah movie, and I watched at least a couple of episodes of that other recent Bible show.
But, the truth is, I just haven’t ever been a fan.
So, it took me a full six months to try watching the first episode of The Chosen. This was despite my workmate Ben telling how great it was and despite Ben writing several articles about the show, that smashed all of Eternity’s records.
Jesus is attractive (in the truest sense of the word, not some weird “hot God” scenario)
And, now I have watched it, I have somehow become a self-appointed evangelist for the show who will not stop trying to talk her friends and family into watching it. It is just that good. The Chosen is just not like the other Jesus shows (no offence intended to all the other Jesus show makers – I’m sure there are loads of people who love your work, and please assume I’m a clueless neanderthal who wouldn’t recognise art if she tripped over it).
But this is literally the first Jesus show I have watched where I found the premise of the story to be completely believable – which is a big deal, considering I actually do believe the premise of the story!
The world Jesus and the disciples inhabit seems like a real place. The disciples seem like real people. The events that take place – even the miracles – are contextualised in a way that makes it easy to believe they really happened.
Best of all, Jesus is attractive (in the truest sense of the word, not some weird “hot God” scenario). I can see why people were attracted to him – how he could have drawn a crowd. Why people would have followed him. Why fishermen would drop their nets and tax collectors would walk away from making stacks of cash.
Fair warning: this believability is made possible because The Chosen’s team have openly and deliberately allowed themselves to take poetic license in crafting the show. So, audiences don’t only get the bare-bones accounts of events that are in the Bible, but also a sense of everything that might have been around them. And, since it is made to engage a contemporary audience, so there’s even the odd pop-culture-ish expression, such as Jesus cracking the joke, “too soon?”
The Chosen’s team have made a huge effort made to stick close to what the gospels do reveal – even including a few scenes from the Old Testament that provide viewers with the historical context for Jesus and his disciples. But viewers do need to be aware that there is also a lot added to show to bring the gospels to life.
Personally, I find the result to be a thoroughly engaging Jesus show. The kind that I even want to get back to watching when the Olympics opening ceremony is on!
I looked forward to watching Jesus every day. I smiled, sighed, cheered, and even snort-laughed as his band of chosen misfits tried to follow him. Their moments of utter insight, quickly followed by bumbling confusion, were familiar to me!
Locked down in Sydney, I watched Jesus extend grace, bring healing and usher in his counter-cultural kingdom – and it was so very good for my soul.
So, three years after The Chosen’s pilot was first released as a crowd-funder, eighteen months after the first season was released, and six months after my workmate Ben told me to watch it, let me humbly recommend the show to you.
It might be just what the Doctor ordered.