There are several Jesus movies that we have watched in the past, but the web series The Chosen stands out for many reasons. We read the Bible and we find it as a summary of events. We realize that many events, stories and characters are omitted, and, importantly, we do not get a detailed emotional graph of the characters captured in the scripture. The Chosen serves to bridge those gaps and helps us to understand characters and stories within their cultural and human context.
In a time when there is a glut of movies and media content, and there are too many options for entertainment and information—where one can switch at the click of a button, where our attention span has shrunk, and our thoughts continue to ramble—this series keeps you hooked to the story and character, and you can sense the love of Christ as you watch them.
I loved the way the character of Matthew, the tax collector, is picturized. He is asked to follow Jesus—it looks so simple in the scripture with just a command, but the depiction in the series throws us into the world of Matthew and helps us to get a glimpse of what all he must have been through; his doubts, questions, challenges, and despite all that how he decides to follow Jesus. The portrayal is fascinating. We can relate to the character and his emotions; there is an instant bonding that the viewer builds with the character.
Some may find the series difficult to accept and may find it far from the story recorded in the scripture and, no doubt, there might be various interpretations to the story, but the team of The Chosen has thought through what must have happened to the characters and has put them together brilliantly in the series. When I watched the series, I knew it well and clear in my head that everything that is presented in the movie is not necessarily a fact but that there is a poetic/artistic license to it. In fact, that creative license is the best aspect of this series; at times, I could not hold back my tears while watching some of the episodes because it was relatable. I realized that crying heals emotions and perhaps, it is also a form of worshipthat we offer to God. Now, you may ask: How can we worship God while watching a movie? Is that even possible? I can say with my experience that it is an astounding, “Yes”. The Chosen helps you worship God while watching the series. Jesus appears to us in the most humanistic ways—you witness his power, grace, healing, teaching and his love.
Those of us who have watched The Passion of the Christ know that it is a masterpiece; we strongly and emotionally relate to the suffering of Jesus. But the movie in a sense has its own limitations since the plot of the movie revolves only around the suffering of Jesus. But this series takes you on a journey. There is a sort of gradual scrutiny of every character, and it builds you to connect with characters, you understand them through the most realistic lenses and eventually fall in love with them. Each character goes through a process of change of heart in the series. The words in Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good”, become so real— Matthew and Nicodemus experience the change; Peter cries, “Do not come close to me because I am a sinner”. A change of heart is something that we get to see often throughout the series when characters come in connection with Jesus.
In the series, characters do not appear to be larger than life. They are the simplest of people with real struggles, doubts and challenges, and how they transform. Many a time we miss out various emotional, cultural and political aspects of the story while reading it but watching it makes it so real and getting into the skin of the characters takes you to a new world of experience and understanding.
The crucial understanding from the series I have gained is that The Chosen does not replace the Bible, (nor does it try to) but it renews our understanding of Jesus. We understand how Jesus loved us while He was on earth. It is like listening to a godly sermon and we are like the good soil that receive the Word and bear fruit. We do not fall for the speaker but fall in love with Christ through the sermon. Likewise, watching this series is a worship experience, and it’s not the movie, but the Saviour that one falls in love with, yet again. The life of Christ is presented in a way that refreshes the history you already know.