Now in theaters, Season 3 of ‘The Chosen’ reaches the depths of human emotion

3 mins read
The Chosen
Courtesy photo

If you have been following the development of the largest crowdfunded series about the life of Christ, “The Chosen,” then you will be enthralled with Season 3’s first two episodes, which are now in theaters. If you have not seen “The Chosen,” then now may be the time to begin to be pleasantly surprised with the quality of writing, filmmaking and overall storytelling that has captivated the world with more than 500 million views in 150 languages. With every season, Dallas Jenkins, the creator, writer and director, draws in the audience more and more into the humanity of the characters of the New Testament.

While presenting Jesus, played by the amazing Jonathan Roumie, a Catholic, as both human and divine, Jenkins wants people to be able to relate to Jesus’ teachings in a way that changes their lives. Jenkins draws out Jesus’ humanity in his relationships with his disciples through his clever one-liners. In a previous episode, when Jesus calls on Matthew the tax collector, Simon Peter says, “This is different.” And Jesus responds, “Get used to different.” Roumie shares that in Season 3, “Things are starting to get real with Jesus and the disciples. Season 3 is like a reckoning. We’ve got the band of disciples, now we’re in the streets, and now people are starting to notice … and not all of them are happy about it.” It is almost a metaphor for this series in the Hollywood milieu. People are starting to take notice.

Season 3 creates an undeniable emotional connection to the audience. Following the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ teachings now start to come alive. Jenkins creatively allows us to see with more depth the humanness of the apostles, Mary Magdalene and other characters who follow Jesus as the Messiah. In the first two episodes of Season 3, Jesus teaches his disciples about the Kingdom of God in everyday conversations. Look for it when Jesus speaks with Matthew (Para Patel) and then again with “Little James” (Jordan Walker Ross). We see forgiveness and loving one’s enemies played out in the pairing of Matthew, the former tax collector, with Simon “Z” (Alaa Safi), the former Zealot, as partners sent out to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ actions communicate his message as much as his words.

On the teal carpet of the Season 3 premiere in Atlanta, the producers and actors of the series relayed what we see on the screen — authenticity. They are genuine human beings with gratitude for their part in such a groundbreaking, historical experience of retelling the life of Christ and the apostles. Giavani Cairo, who plays Thaddeus, said, “‘The Chosen’ does such a great job of bringing together not just talented artists but great people. … It’s not like a job … it’s like a family on set.” It shows through the emotionally charged scenes leading audiences to laugh and cry together.

Dallas Jenkins puts all the Hollywood-like glitz and recognition into perspective. He said: “Having a premiere and getting this into theaters is obviously exciting. There was a time in my career where I would have cared deeply about this. I would have wanted this. I stopped caring about it. I’m only focused now on honoring Jesus and the Gospels. I want to make sure we get that right. I want to remain surrendered. … None of it matters if we don’t get the story of Jesus right.” However, he said, “Having a theatrical release does allow exposure to more people.”

Elizbeth Tabish
Elizabeth Tabish is interviewed by Sister Nancy Usselmann. Courtesy photo

Elizabeth Tabish, who plays Mary Magdalene in the series, shares what this theatrical release means. “I was hoping more people would get to see it and recognize the artistic achievement it is,” she said, because “it seems to really be touching people’s hearts.” She continued that the show “is asking challenging questions where people have to ask themselves about difficult things.”

Seeing Episodes 1 and 2 on a big screen makes the most powerful moments in the script emotionally gripping for the audience. When Alpheus, Matthew’s father, disowns him because of his corroboration with the Romans as a tax collector only makes a reconciliation that much more relatable. Even the humorous moments of Simon Peter trying to have some quiet time with his wife while constantly being interrupted by some of the other apostles looking for hospitality is that much more enjoyable with a crowded theater of people laughing out loud.

Coming at a time when our world is challenged by multiple ideologies and anti-religious rhetoric, The Chosen offers us a perspective of what Christianity means for society. If we say we love one another, then Jesus challenges us to love even our enemies. That’s a love that emotionally impacts the world. We are not the same once we have truly encountered Christ. And if that happens through a theatrical release of a television series, then praise God for using these means to communicate the truth of the Gospel.

Sister Nancy Usselmann, FSP, is director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Los Angeles. She is a media literacy educator, writer, film reviewer, speaker and author of a theology of popular culture, “A Sacred Look: Becoming Cultural Mystics.”

Sister Nancy Usselmann

Sister Nancy Usselmann, a Daughter of St. Paul, is director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Los Angeles and a media literacy education specialist.