". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Season 3 of ‘The Chosen’ Summons Peculiarity, Depth, and Drama of Discipleship

April 29, 2023

Are ordinary people capable of doing extraordinary things? Was Jesus merely a really nice guy who gave some great advice on being kind, or was his life and mission an unprecedented revolution that challenges the very limits of the human heart? These are some of the profound questions explored in Season 3 of “The Chosen,” a crowdfunded and free-to-stream series depicting the life of Christ and his disciples.

“The Chosen” broke out in 2019 and soon built a loyal following through the first season and into the second and third, which has led to staggering success. As of March, the series has reached over 100 million viewers all over the globe, with Angel Studios reporting 500 million total streams so far. The colossal achievement can be attributed to highly creative and dramatic writing that reads much between the lines of Scripture while still staying faithful to it, high quality cinematography and acting, and a deeply human and compassionate — yet kingly — portrayal of Jesus by Jonathan Roumie.

Season 3, which debuted last December and ran through February, focuses acutely on the spiritual roller coaster of the disciples’ journey through their stumbles, struggles, and triumphs of a life devoted to following the ever-confounding, ever-astounding Jesus. It also provides ample reflection on the countercultural power that Christ brought to first-century Judea, upending the lives of the rigid Pharisees, idolatrous Romans, and everyone in between.

The spiritual power of Season 3 can largely be attributed to specific scenes of personal encounters with Jesus and scenes of deep reflection on the part of Christ’s disciples and followers.

While miraculous healings abound and never cease to astonish the disciples, it is the genuine human emotions and intimate encounters that ground the miraculous into relatable lessons. In one scene at the end of episode 2, Little James, who suffers from a debilitating and chronic limp, confronts Jesus with a profound question: why won’t Christ heal him in the same way he has healed so many others? In a moving exchange, Jesus explains to him that he has a unique story to tell that those who have been healed could never tell. “To know how to proclaim that you still praise God in spite of this; to know how to focus on all that matters so much more than the body; to show people that you can be patient with your suffering here on earth because you know you’ll spend eternity with no suffering.”

Later during episode 7, Mary Magdalene and Matthew share an intimate exchange about God intervening during points in their lives when they were at their lowest. “Our lives are often painful,” Mary observes. “So we think life is full of scarcity and not abundance. But then there are those times when, out of nowhere, somehow the world expresses its longing to be whole. And suddenly God steps in, and we are pulled out of our blindness, and we are invited into redemption.”

This theme reaches a crescendo in the final episode of Season 3. A central plot point of the season centers around an ongoing conflict (without revealing spoilers) between Simon Peter and his wife Eden, which Peter blames Jesus for not resolving. In a beautifully haunting scene, the creators use the account of Jesus walking on water in Matthew 14 to illustrate how Christ invites us to step out in faith. Peter learns in a profound way that his doubt and lack of faith in Jesus is what ultimately led to the discord and division between himself and his wife.

An additional major theme of Season 3 is the bewilderment that Christ’s ministry caused so many people during his time, and how many who encountered Jesus’s teachings and miracles responded not with awe and praise but by vilifying him. Time and time again, the Pharisees, Romans, and other gentiles who felt threatened by Christ’s radical proclamation of the true nature of God’s heart responded with venom and hatred. The series serves as a great reminder that even to this day, Christ’s message is no less dangerous for those with closed hearts.

Still, “The Chosen” is clearly connecting with the most unlikely of people. New York Times opinion writer Tish Harrison Warren recently admitted that her family became hooked on the series after it was recommended to her by a friend. The left-leaning Atlantic sang the series’ praises back in 2021. The show is even converting its own actors.

On a personal note, my older sibling who is not a believer recently told my parents that she has become addicted to the show and has gotten her non-believing liberal friends hooked on it as well. Clearly, something special is happening with “The Chosen.” It’s a reminder that when God’s word is presented in a beautiful, personal, and unique way, even those who do not yet believe cannot deny the light of Truth.

Now more than ever, our culture desperately needs more movies and shows like “The Chosen.”

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.