When we read a book, we naturally develop our mental images of the characters, and we go as far as to build their looks, personalities, and voice. This is a product of the human mind and the immense imagination that we have been blessed with. It can also be a considerable detriment, as it closes us in a box when alternate interpretations are presented. Take “The Lord of the Rings,” for instance. We all had mental images of Gandalf, Aragon, and Frodo long before Peter Jackson came along. How many people found the onscreen portrayal lacking? More than you’d imagine (I am not included in that group)
So enter “The Chosen” and my preconceived ideas. As a Pastor, I have 25-plus years of stubborn thoughts in my head. The church we attend began showing the series on Sunday evenings, and I made it through two episodes before I gave up. I just couldn’t get into it and didn’t know why.
Fast forward to my Christmas break from school and the plague of sickness that hit our home. For some reason, as I was looking through streaming shows to watch, The Chosen kept popping up in my “For You” sections. Was God speaking to me? Was this a subtle hint? It sure did seem like it.
With the enthusiasm of a circus performer, I decided to open my mind and give it a second chance. There had to be a reason it didn’t click with me the first time. Mostly, I have always enjoyed Biblical recreations (I’m talking to you, Russell Crowe, and Noah).
It wasn’t until the end of the second episode, when Jesus makes his first appearance, healing Mary Magdalene, that it became apparent to me that this wasn’t my Jesus on the screen. Let me explain. As I mentioned earlier, I had a dogmatic idea of what Jesus looked like; how He talked and acted was my stumbling block. Jonathan Roumie portrayed a very different Jesus than I had in my mind. And that is why I initially turned it off. And let me also add that Simon Peter, John, Matthew, Nicodemus, Mary, and others were not what I had conceived.
My self-imposed limits of imagination and interpretation had shut me off from the possibility of being touched by something new. In The Chosen, I saw Jesus smile, and I smiled. I heard Him tell a joke, and I laughed. He was moved, and I was also moved. I saw him as a natural person, a man, God in the flesh. No longer was I restricting myself to the red letters of the Bible Jesus. Having experienced many people portray Jesus over the years, this truly is my favorite.
When watching a show like this, you have to remember this is “interpretation.” much of what you see is made up. However, the spirit of the Bible is intact. Nowhere have I noticed something that blatantly goes against the truth. Elaborated, indeed, there are many scenes of this nature. It was the unexpected representation of the others that caught me off guard. A somewhat dishonest Simon Peter, an extremely odd and quirky Matthew, an emotional and struggling Nicodemus, and all the others.
I have realized that “religion” (a word I do not like) is much like my initial attitude toward this show. Either personally or by the arm of the church, we are led (or forced) into a belief system that leaves us no room to breathe. We are robbed of the anticipation of what Jesus can do because we are in a box, and we have also placed Jesus there. This is where The Chosen made a difference for me. Even though I know it is just a representation of what “could” have been, it has allowed me to look at Jesus, the disciples, and the Gospels in a new light. And if Christians ever need help with anything, it is a problem we have with becoming stale in our faith.
If you haven’t watched, give it a try. You might just be as surprised as I have been.