Let’s start at the beginning. I was raised Roman Catholic. My own children went to Catholic school for many years. When I visited Rome and the Vatican, I had a powerful moment of union with my faith as I stood in St. Peter’s and realized that the real St. Peter is buried beneath the altar, the true Rock upon which Jesus built his church. As I stared at Michelangelo’s The Pietà, tears came to my eyes, as they did in the Sistine Chapel. There are moments in our lives that bring us closer to the teachings of Jesus and God. They can be awe-inspiring.
Last year, when my children asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I had one small request. I wanted us to watch Jesus of Nazareth as a family. Franco Zeffirelli’s classic film from the 1970s starring Christopher Powell as Jesus is an incredibly moving and spiritual journey through the life of Christ. It’s wonderfully done, and leaves you feeling as if you’ve “seen” or actually “witnessed” snippets of Jesus’s life.
When I told my friend Elizabeth that we watched Jesus of Nazareth, she said to me, “Have you watched The Chosen?” I didn’t know what this show was. I’m so thankful that she opened the door for me to watch another powerful depiction of Jesus and his disciples.
The Chosen is the first multi-season series based on the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Two seasons have already been made, with a total of seven seasons planned. What’s truly amazing about the show is the way the story is told; it is told through the eyes of those who met Him. Additionally, this is one of the top crowd-funded TV series/films of all time. It is free to watch, and viewers are asked to “pay it forward” simply by donating to the project whatever sum of money they can. As of 2021, $40 million had been contributed to fund the production. This makes The Chosen the most successful crowdfunding project ever. If you are interested in watching it, you can view it on Amazon Prime Video, Peacock, or through the fee app you can download to your device.
American filmmaker Dallas Jenkins is the creator, co-writer, and director of The Chosen. You can listen to interviews with Dallas and the actors and crew through the app, as well.
Now on to why I love it so much and highly recommend it.
Jonathan Roumie, a Roman Catholic himself, portrays Jesus in a way that is refreshing and personable. With warmth, humanity, humor, and sweetness, Roumie gives us a caring and charismatic Jesus—one that we all would love to know better. The beauty of a well-rounded cast of disciples and others who meet Jesus along the way, help us see Him through a different lens, one that is perhaps less intimidating. In a particular scene recorded by John (John 3:16) between Jesus and Nicodemus—a scene I have watched over and over because it’s intoxicating to watch these actors work their magic—it’s difficult not to get caught up in the reason for Jesus’s brief time with us on Earth. He tells Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, that He is here for the forgiveness of sins and to open the doors to the Kingdom of Heaven. Nicodemus sits in wonder. Both Roumie and Erik Avari, who plays Nicodemus, are fascinating in this scene. As a viewer, it left me almost as breathless as Jesus leaves Nicodemus.
One of my favorite episodes is Episode 1 of Season 2. It begins with John sitting in a candlelit room in the dark after the death of Jesus, writing what ultimately turned into The Gospel of John. He is sitting with Mary, Jesus’s mother, as they recount His life, the two of them missing him dearly. John is trying to interview Mary to get her first-hand account on paper. Mary asks John why he feels the need to write all of this, and John tells her it’s because we have to remember Him, and what He taught. This entire episode is primarily from John’s perspective, and I love that we get to see what it must have been like for those who knew Him and who had to carry on his work, whether it was by writing scripture or preaching the Word of God.
Another wonderful scene in which Roumie works his magic is the episode in Season 1 about Jesus and the children. My words won’t do Roumie’s acting skills justice, so instead, just watch the clip below and see for yourself how brilliantly Roumie portrays Jesus relating to the children, who are drawn to Him and are just getting to know Him.
In his directing, Jenkins does a tremendous job of capturing the spirit of those times, the people, and the places. As Jenkins said in an interview, this show is not meant to replace scripture; it is meant to help show that people are people, and that though time has marched on since Jesus was with us on Earth, people have changed little. They still want love, understanding, forgiveness, community, and something to believe in.
Trust me when I tell you that this show is worth your time, especially if you are someone of faith, or even if you’ve lost your way a bit. From believers to non-believers, The Chosen has touched the hearts of many. With two 8-episode seasons already under their belt, and five more on the way, you will enjoy Roumie’s wonderfully authentic and warm portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth, because at one time, He was, indeed, here with us spreading good news.