THE CHOSEN: SEEING JESUS THROUGH THE EYES OF HIS DISCIPLES
Narciso S. Albarracin, Jr., M.D.
Jesus is Lord, both human and divine, and he emptied himself of his glory to walk and be among us on earth to carry out and fulfill His Father's mission. We are blessed in our Judeo-Christian faith by the Bible, particularly the New Testament, and most specially by the Gospels. The Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John tell us of Jesus' ministry on earth, but they are bare-bones account of Jesus' life, leaving out much between the lines, and leaving us to use our imagination to fill in the blanks. Enter an ongoing phenomenon - The Chosen - a multi-season television, episodes-based drama on the life of Jesus of Nazareth that portrays Jesus through the eyes of His disciples and others who met him. We see more of the human side of Jesus - more personally and more intimately. And more believably; Jesus as acted by Jonathan Rhoumie does not have blue eyes, but has dark hair and speaks in the show with an accent, blending well with the people around him in the cast, colored and with accents..
American filmmaker Dallas Jenkins is the creator, director, and co-writer of The Chosen. The show has an evangelical tendency in its story lines but there are consultants from three faith traditions that review written material and provide input. Consultants include Jason Sobel, a Messianic rabbi; Father David Guffey, a Catholic priest and national director of Family Theater Productions; and Dr. Doug Huffman, New Testament professor at Biola University. They review scripts and provide facts or context on the biblical, cultural, and socio-political history of the story lines. All biblical and historical context and any artistic imagination are designed to support the truth and intention of the Scriptures. Viewers of the television series are strongly encouraged to read the Bible, themselves, especially the Gospels.
Season 1 has been viewed world-wide completely free via The Chosen's mobile app, YouTube, and the VidAngel streaming platform, beginning in March 2020 at the start of the world's "lockdown" because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were 8 episodes shown, introducing Jesus and the calling of His initial disciples, starting with the "calling" of Mary Magdalene and the introduction of the influential Pharisee, Nicodemus. The concluding Episode 8 portrays Jesus and his disciples in initially hostile Samaritan territory, with the seeds of conversion planted by the evangelizing efforts of the Samaritan woman who Jesus met at Jacob's well. By March 2021, the First Season had been viewed more than 100 million times in 180 countries. The combination of offering the TV series free and crowd-funding (paying forward so other potential viewers can watch the series free) had been a huge success. By January 2019, the project had raised over $10.2 million from over 16,000 investors. That's what I mean by The Chosen being a modern-day phenomenon. I get the sense that The Holy Spirit is the wind beneath this project's wings.
Season 2 covers the beginnings of Jesus' public ministry when his reputation as a teacher and a healer and the probable Messiah had attracted crowds. The concluding Episode 8 is a creative, fictionalized account of how Jesus and His disciples prepared for the Sermon on the Mount. Some 2000 extras were recruited at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of whom were required to obtain a negative PCR test prior to filming, adding $750,000 to the cost of production to comply with COVID-19 protocols. Season 2 was released to the public on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021. By June 2021, the series has been watched 150 million times and has been translated into 50 languages. As of August 2021, its YouTube channel has 1.3 million subscribers. A modern-day phenom is afoot and if you have not watched The Chosen, available to you free (!), you are missing a spiritual experience that can do wonders to enliven your Christian faith and deepen your love and understanding of the New Testament. Season 3 is scheduled to be released in early 2022. Dallas Jenkins and his associates desire for The Chosen to be seen by over one billion people in every country in the world. That's modern-day evangelizing - digital technology, crowd-funding, free viewing, disciplined story-telling, world-wide distribution, translation to all major languages. That's the Sermon on the Mount --modernized, digitalized, universalized! That's God saying, "I do impossible math." That's Jesus saying, "Just give me a few fish and bread; I will do the rest. But I still need you to distribute the meal to the hungry."