The second half of Season One portrays Jesus beginning his public ministry. From the wedding in Cana, where Jesus’ mother has to talk him into doing a “public miracle” (at least, one that is sure to become public), to the very public healing of the paralytic, to the open invitation of Matthew to become a disciple, and the private, but potentially explosive, invitation of Nicodemus, Jesus has been progressively revealing his ministry to the world. Still, as far as anyone on the outside knows, he is merely a traveling rabbi, one who works miracles, perhaps even a prophet. There are, of course, disciples of John the Baptizer like Andrew who heard John proclaim Jesus as the “lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” and Jesus has tacitly affirmed to his disciples that he is the Messiah, but he has not yet publicly revealed himself as such. He is inching ever closer, however, and as he does, his disciples are both excited and worried—excited because it’s through this public ministry that they expect all their hopes to be realized, but worried because it comes with opposition and potential danger from both the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman authorities. This episode marks the point at which Jesus clearly reveals himself as the Messiah, and invites the person he’s speaking with to tell others. As we might expect by this point, the person he reveals himself to seems an unlikely candidate in a number of ways. Jesus continues to subvert ordinary notions of status and worthiness. And as The Chosen so frequently does, we are presented with a fully fleshed-out picture of what the life of the “woman at the well” may have been like, why she may have been so reluctant to receive Jesus’ message, and why she was so overjoyed when she finally did receive it.
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Sunday, January 28, 2024
As the first season of The Chosen nears its end, the separate storylines begin to interconnect. The four main plots have largely developed in two sets of two: Matthew’s story is intertwined with that of Simon and Andrew, and Mary Magdalene’s story is connected with that of Nicodemus. Although all of the main characters were finally brought together in the crowd scene of the healing of the paralytic, Nicodemus has never actually met Matthew at all. Nonetheless, this episode, “Invitations,” draws unexpected parallels between the outcast tax collector and the distinguished Pharisee. We have already seen how both of their worldviews—the pragmatic secular and the traditional religious—have been shaken by seeing evidence of Jesus’ miracle-working power, but this unexpected similarity is about to become much more clearly delineated.
Wednesday, January 24, 2024
The point at which any complex story becomes really exciting is when plot threads that have been cast out in different directions begin to turn and coalesce again. I love “Indescribable Compassion” largely because so many different storylines come together at the episode’s climactic point. So far, Simon, Andrew, and Mary Magdalene have begun following Jesus, but don’t really know what that’s going to look like yet. Matthew is mystified by the miraculous catch of fish that he witnessed, as is Nicodemus by Mary’s transformation, and both are trying to figure out who the mysterious man at the heart of these miracles is. All of these people, and more, will come together in one pivotal scene that will define who they are and in what direction they are going.
Sunday, January 21, 2024
So at this point, we viewers want to see how Mary, Simon, and Andrew’s discipleship progresses, how Matthew becomes a follower of Jesus, and how Nicodemus resolves his quest and ends up meeting with Jesus as we see recorded in John chapter 3. This all needs to be presented in the context of Jesus’ early ministry, and certain events that happen during this time period need to be shown. The first of these is the wedding at Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine.
Wednesday, January 17, 2024
Sunday, January 14, 2024
After two episodes where Jesus himself plays only a minor, but pivotal, role, we finally have one that focuses strongly on Jesus himself. “Jesus Loves the Little Children” is what is known in the trade as a “bottle episode,” one that is set primarily in one location and has a limited number of main cast members. It sits apart from the primary action of the season and functions as an aside where a particular character can be developed. In this episode, the main plotlines involving Mary Magdalene, Simon and Andrew, Matthew, and Nicodemus all take a brief hiatus while we get some deeper insight into Jesus himself.
Wednesday, January 10, 2024
Episode 2, “Shabbat,” does not have a strong episode arc; none of the stories have a conclusive resolution, as did Mary’s story in the first episode, “I Have Called You by Name.” For the most part, each of the four main plotlines continues to build, and we get more insight into each of the characters. But the episode is bookended by a Shabbat (sabbath) observance, first in the time of Solomon, and then nearly a millennium later in the time of Jesus. We see the long history and tradition of the Jewish people, the Shabbat observances punctuating the weekly routine of an entire people down through the centuries.
This concern for meticulous observance of Shabbat not only provides structure and a unified theme for this episode, but also sets the stage for a central point of controversy throughout Jesus’ ministry, and thus the series. Jesus is frequently perceived as profaning Shabbat by performing miracles such as healing on that day, and is confronted numerous times in Scripture by the Pharisees on this point (e.g., Mark 2:24, 3:2; Luke 13:4; John 5:16). What this episode does, among other things, is portray how important the Shabbat observance is to this people.
We already saw in the first episode how fishing on Shabbat is considered a very serious violation (serious enough that Rabbi Jason Sobel, a messianic Jewish consultant for the series, thinks that it simply would never have happened) which then provides a motivating force behind Simon’s plot line. In this episode, we see how the same issue continues to develop with Simon, how Mary’s transformation is portrayed through Shabbat, what the sabbath observance has become for Nicodemus’s social circle, and how it illustrates Matthew’s alienation from his people.
Sunday, January 07, 2024
I’ve heard that many people have started The Chosen but quit after an episode or two because they couldn’t keep track of what was going on. In some cases, this might be because they were expecting straightforward Bible stories that they already knew, which is not what you get in this show, but like many other bingeworthy shows, The Chosen has many well-developed characters and complicated, interrelated storylines, and the first few episodes set up a lot of situations that will pay off later. There are four different plot lines that are being initiated, only one of which comes to a meaningful resolution in this episode.
This episode requires a significant recap prior to delving into analysis; feel free to jump forward to the next break if you’re already fully familiar with the plot details.