I have mixed emotions concerning this latest runaway hit streaming online called the “Chosen”.
Imagine, a TV soap opera based on Jesus’ life!
What is there not to like? Great production, realistic portrayals and aside from accurate reenactments of the familiar events in Jesus’ life and ministry, the writers have created fascinating back stories for each apostle that brings these little known characters to life.
I cry at some point in each episode as the sick, who have been miraculously healed, embrace Jesus with a mixture of awe, gratitude, and joy. I wait anxiously anticipating how the show will portray a scene that I’ve read a hundred times in the New Testament, and am constantly amazed at how they have managed to convey the facts with a dimension of realism and plausibility that somehow neutralizes my faith – I now believe it because I’ve actually seen it!
And there’s the rub. This is where the axis of my emotions turn from love, delight, and fascination to a kind of slow doubt. I think to myself, “It’s just made up by screen-writers.”
The enjoyment here, is that for a moment, I don’t have to believe, I simply have to watch and enjoy – everything is answered, all the blanks are filled in and I am satisfied
Jesus (wonderfully played by American actor, Jonathan Roumie) looks and feels like Jesus, a better Jesus than I had ever imagined. The hype for the series is that it brings the stories of the people surrounding the gospel to life and I like this 3D version of Jesus’ life and times, but again, “It’s somebody’s idea of what happened and what was said.”
The assurance of the New Testament record is that the facts and details (even the smallest ones) are accurate and despite the lack of background information, the information we do have is correct and sufficient to establish our faith (John 21:25). This, in the end, was the purpose for the gospel records and epistles (1 John 5:13), not as source material for a gospel movie.
My slow doubt will not stop me from enjoying a cleverly written television series about Jesus and His apostles. The successful formula that the producers have is a true story known by all, told in a dynamic but respectful manner, using literary freedom to color in the blanks with fascinating details, sympathetic characters and engaging plot devices –
elements that all successful movies and television series have.
I believe we can all benefit from the “Chosen” if we consume it as entertainment based on the gospel and not as the gospel itself, always remembering that the gospel is all true and the “Chosen” is only partly true.