The Chosen - Yes or No?
Today, I am writing about two people in my life, and I am finding their types in the disciples of Jesus … and in Jesus’ mom.
“But look here,” said my friend, who is the first of the two people above. “I am worried about the TV show The Chosen. It presents many back stories about the disciples. That back story approach may mislead some viewers into doctrinal errors. That could threaten their reach for salvation.”
I love The Chosen.
Clearly, my friend has his doubts.
This friend is a longtime leader in the field of Christian apologetics; he manages an institute devoted to that work. His job is figuratively to drop pebbles into the shoes of doubters. That is, to alert them, to make them uncomfortable, and to make them think…and, ultimately, to decide.
One way or the other; this is what Jesus offers them. Heaven or hell.
The Chosen explores the disciples’ back stories and also the conflicts among them. It personalizes the twelve disciples in ways the gospels cannot. The gospels are gospels and inerrant; The Chosen is fiction. But the writing, acting, directing, and cinematography in The Chosen are exquisite. They raise this TV series into the realm of holy art.
That said, I was troubled after my conversation with my friend. He is a perceptive man. Perhaps he is right to be worried. I, on the other hand, do have a tendency to over-enthuse. Others have pointed to this weakness in me.
Nevertheless, here’s what happened next.
Please meet the second person I am writing about.
That very afternoon, at church, I fell into conversation with a woman who has two sons, one nine and one four. She speculated about how her sons, when they should reach their late teens and early twenties, might disappoint her. She told me that, now, they need her – they really need her, and of course she provides.
But what would happen, she wondered, when her boys reached an age when they might, for example, forget her birthday, or otherwise make it plain that she was not foremost on their minds? How hurtful to her that would be, she worried.
I understood and commiserated. We parted ways.
That evening, as it happened, I turned on the TV and came across The Chosen – season two, episode three. If you are already a viewer, perhaps you’ll remember.
On the screen, it’s evening. The disciples and several women are gathered around the fire outside. Jesus is off in a hut healing his way through a long line of Samaritans who have gathered for his help. One of the women around the fire is Mary, Jesus’ mom. Mary Magdalen persuades her to recount the moments of Jesus’ birth, and so Jesus’ mom narrates that story.
Mary fondly recalls how much the baby Jesus needed – really needed – his mom thirty years ago when he was so small. Now, she says, he is kind to her, but she lacks the impression that he really needs her now. At that moment, Jesus stumbles by the circle beside the fire, wordless, exhausted, having healed the sick during all that live-long day. He makes his way to his tent and tries to remove his cloak but can’t.
Mary sees his difficulty and goes to him and removes his cloak. Then she washes his feet. She washes his hands. She washes his face. He mutters, “Imma, I am so tired,” and she helps him to lie down. She covers him with a blanket.
As we watch these moments in the almost darkness of Jesus’ tent away from the nighttime fire, it is a scene of breathtaking, quiet power. Here we see Mary blessed by the Son of God, by her adult son who once was so small and who needed her then – really needed her – and whom she serves again now, as a mother does, in his need right now.
Moved, I froze the frame, dialed the woman I had spoken with earlier that afternoon, described to her what I had just seen, and then learned from her later, the next day, that hearing of that scene had blessed her and had made her weep with joy.
Next day, I wrote to my apologist friend and described my encounter with that scene as being my own God moment from my previous day. Nowhere in scripture is that scene depicted, I wrote. No issue of doctrine is threatened by that scene, I wrote. But here’s where the artistic rubber meets the road, I wrote.
Bible truth and artistic truth differ. And it was artistic truth which had made that mother of young sons cry.
Bravo, to The Chosen and to its creators.