And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.John 21:25
The beloved disciple and evangelist John teases us with these words toward the end of his very mystical narrative. But beyond teasing us into writing yet one more book about our Lord and Master, I believe St. John’s words serve as a kind of license to create and imagine contexts and conversations beyond the true Gospel account, while remaining faithful to the original canon of revelation. Dallas Jenkins’ series The Chosen, now in its third season at Angel Studios, continues to be that incredible re-imagining.
Picking up from season 2 which ends with the famous Sermon on the Mount as recorded in chapter 5 of St. Matthew’s Gospel, the third season features the Son of God becoming more and more known among the people and hence becoming a threat to various authorities, both among the Jews and with some of the ruling Romans. What is particularly helpful in this season is seeing the various disciples with their strikingly different personalities try to come to terms with following someone they believe to be the Messiah; many think they have Jesus somewhat figured out, but it seems the most effective disciples are the ones who just go with their gut without too much thinking. Jesus himself can almost never be located; he is like the description of the Holy Spirit in St. John’s Gospel, “blowing where he wills. You hear the sound but cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.” (John 3:8)
As Jesus grows in His following, Gentiles as well as Jews are being compelled by His message. My favorite fictional character is Gaius. He becomes a friend of Matthew, the tax collector turned disciple, and his fondness for Matthew compels him to look further into Jesus. He is a man of much action and few words, and this characteristic causes him to cross paths with Simon Peter, another doer, in this season. Their rather revealing conversation about family and divine assistance shows the virtuosity of the show’s writers. Gaius is both credible and compelling for what he does not say as much as for what he does.
Most of all, The Chosen continues to show that Christians can make good and compelling stories that are not overly preachy or ham-fisted. Moreover the platform the show is streaming on is paving the way for a new kind of streaming service, one that listens to its members and caters content specifically for them. Long live creative, yet faithful Christian storytelling!