January 2024

From the pastor…

Every once in a while the entertainment industry comes out with something that’s compelling to the Christian audience. 

  • Many decades ago Hollywood came out with the epic movie “The Ten Commandments,” with a dashing Charlton Heston playing Moses.
  • Twenty years ago it was Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ.”  While it was largely faithful to the Scriptural account, some people considered it to be an all too graphic depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion.
  • It’s been six years now since the pilot of a Christian “historical drama” series first came out.  It’s called The Chosen and it is soon to be going into its fourth season.  This time, instead of being available by streaming, it will come to theaters.  (Maybe that will get us off the couch and into the world!)

I have to say that I have enjoyed watching The Chosen so far.  As the title suggests, it centers on the followers of Jesus that He has chosen for His inner circle of disciples.  So, we get some very interesting back stories on Biblical people like Peter and Andrew, James and John.  Even Mary Magdalene gets an in-depth character study.

But it doesn’t stop there.  There are Jewish Pharisees, like Nicodemus and his students, who are on the periphery of Jesus’ group.  They are fervent believers in God’s promise of a Messiah, but they just don’t know what to make of Jesus.  There are Roman magistrates, who simply want to do their jobs in keeping order in this conquered province.  Centurions – career soldiers with some authority – are intrigued with this Jewish movement.  But they don’t dare let their soft sides show, because that would be a sign of weakness.

The Chosen is compelling viewing for those who love the Lord and wish they knew just a little bit more of what life was like for those who followed Him.

But I do have some reservations about recommending the show to anyone and everyone.  There’s a danger in taking something so important as the Biblical record of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and spinning fictional stories around it.  Though there seem to be no places where the plot rejects the Biblical story, there are so many intricate backstories woven in, that you sometimes have to carefully discern what is God’s inspired word and what is just a modern-day writer’s inspired imagination.

In a very clever and entertaining way, the series imagines (that’s the key word) what the relationships would have been like between Jesus and His disciples, and between the disciples as a group.  The interweaving of their backstories is quite entertaining, but there’s really not much Biblical evidence to any of it.  That’s why it’s called “historical drama” and not actual “history.”  The character studies of the disciples – particularly of Matthew – have little basis in Scripture.

This characterization of Jesus is much more American culture-friendly than others we’ve seen in the past.  Whereas, past characterizations of Jesus made us wonder if He was really human like us, this characterization makes us wonder if He’s really any different than we are. The Biblical answer, of course, is that Jesus is both human like us and, in His divinity, quite different from us.

So, here’s my personal and pastoral recommendation.  Please don’t make The Chosen your first foray into learning about Jesus.  There’s too much fiction in it.  But, if you’re a good student of the Bible and you can compare the story lines of this series with what the Bible says, then go ahead and enjoy the program.  You can find all the correct details in the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Some of the creative story lines are plausible, but you won’t find nearly the level of factual detail to say, “This is most certainly true.”

Chosen by God to be forgiven by Jesus,

Pastor Bauch