Monday, March 30, 2020

The Chosen, Episode 1: A Review with Thoughts and Prayer

Hope and I watched the first episode of The Chosen. This Bible-inspired show is designed to work like a TV series. It is being live streamed each week. The actual episode is only about an hour long, but there is a lot of talking before and after the episode if you watch the free live streamed version (which, after being live streamed, remains available on You Tube here). The episode itself begins about 22 minutes into the live stream, and imho you won’t miss too much if you simply forward ahead to the episode.

What we loved about it

We loved the way they told the story of “Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons” (Mark 16:9 CSB17). She is the focus of the first episode. We don’t know how Mary came to be oppressed by demons, nor does the Bible tell us how or when Jesus met her and delivered her. But the creators of The Chosen do a good job providing a fictional account that powerfully portrays Mary’s pain, God’s promises (an Old Testament passage is beautifully woven throughout the story), and the love and power of Jesus that leads to her deliverance.

In 2016 I preached a message on this same Bible story. In it, based on biblical teaching, I discussed what it might have been like for Mary to be oppressed by seven demons. I think you will find that this 20 minute clip from the sermon complements the way Mary’s story is presented in “The Chosen”:

Delivered from 7 Demons

One thing we didn’t like so much

(warning: spoilers ahead)
Neither of us really like the way they are portraying Peter (and to some extent, Andrew) so far. From the Bible we know that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist prior to meeting Jesus (John 1:36-42). We also know Peter wasn’t with Andrew when he first sees Jesus, and we don’t know for if Peter had also been following John the Baptist prior to meeting with Jesus. I’ve always imagined that, prior to meeting Jesus, both Peter and Andrew were basically godly Jews who were seeking to live their lives pleasing to God and were looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. The Chosen is presenting Peter as someone who got in fist fights to make money from betting (with the help of Andrew!), who blatantly ignored the Sabbath prohibition on working (this is far different from the nit picky complaining of the Pharisees about the disciples’ actions on the Sabbath, in the show Peter really does violate what was clearly God’s law for the Sabbath at that time), and even is prepared to turn in some fellow Jews to Roman authorities in order to avoid a big tax problem. Can I say for sure that Peter wasn’t like that before he became a follower of Christ? No, but I’ve never imagined him to be like that and it doesn’t feel right to me. Does this ruin the show? No, as long as you are able to keep separate in your mind the fictional parts and the directly biblical parts.

Conclusion and Prayer

I pray that God will use The Chosen for great good. Based on the first episode, I feel like the show has a lot of potential to be used by God for good purposes. Despite the parts that we didn’t like as much, overall, I think the first episode was a powerful and moving presentation of some deep biblical truths that have potential to encourage and help those who watch. The show opens with a screen describing the show’s relationship to the Bible and encouraging people to read the Bible (see a screen grab photo below). If people do read the Bible, and if they keep in mind that fictional accounts of Bible characters can be used to powerfully convey God’s love and truth and yet the fictional elements should not be treated as historical fact, then I think the show can do a lot of good. At least that’s how I feel after the first episode. I look forward to watching the second episode next week.

Some related blog posts (mainly dealing with the issue of demonic oppression):

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .