Monday, May 11, 2020

Streaming The Chosen | Becoming Curious About Jesus

The Chosen Episode 3: Jesus Loves the Little Children 5-Minute Video Clip

I needed to be invited again to be like the curious children Jesus makes time to teach about Messiah in The Chosen Series Episode 3: Jesus Loves the Little Children

In some ways, it's hard to believe that I'm writing this recommendation, but here goes. I can't encourage you enough in the midst of this downtime at home during the novel coronavirus pandemic to check out "The Chosen" Season 1 featuring the lives of Mary of Magdala, Simon and Andrew, Nicodemus, Matthew, and others leading up to when Jesus met them and called each of them to follow Him. 

I love storytelling art, whether through music, literature, film, or television. Right now, we are in a golden age of television as literature. So many compelling series are available, striving to join the ranks of shows like The Wire, Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, ParenthoodJustified, and potentially This Is Us and Better Call Saul when it's all said-and-done (which will be a marvel for Vince Gilligan, co-creator of both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul) that reveal to us stories across genres that are consistently compelling from the first episode to the final episode across multiple seasons and years. (Of course, there have been many other innovative and influential shows in the past 10 years, but none that quite capture the consistency from beginning to end that the other series mentioned above did.)

In light of my appreciation of the shows above, I have a confession to make: I think so-called "Christian movie and television" productions are pretty terrible across the board. Almost to a fault, they do not seem to be a labor of excellence and grace, but a forced exercise of bad persuasion and treacly dramatics that tend to diminish the glory and awe of the Creator and Light of the world who overcomes the deepest darkness, the Artist and Author of the greatest redemptive story ever told that we actually get to live in. 

And now I'm glad to be proven wrong about one of them. And I'm still as shocked to offer as you may be to receive this recommendation.

Jesus spends time with and teaches the children in The Chosen Episode 3: Jesus Loves the Little Children

"The Chosen" is a creative, beautiful, and genuinely strong series of streaming television that I pray proves consistently magnificent to the end, matching what has been a truly powerful first season. The crew and cast are not only passionately and artistically driven to bring to life the context and much of the content across all four gospels about Jesus, but this first season displays stellar storytelling, screenwriting, direction, acting (with a mostly Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cast!), and production in the midst of the creative license being taken to unveil what we may think we're already familiar with about Jesus and the stories of those who knew Him. 

From my wife to my kids (ages 6-11) to my skeptical self, all of us were deeply engaged, and when one episode would end, we were all ready to binge on another. And to be honest, I don't think I finished an episode without shedding a tear (touché, This Is Us). 

The Chosen's YouTube channel features a lot of great clips, however I would avoid seeing too many as they can take away from the potency of seeing them in context in the flow of the narrative. But here is a link to The Chosen HD Trailer (3:39 minutes).

For those who are cautious about depictions of Jesus, whether for religious reasons or artistic reasons, this thoughtful statement begins the series:

The Chosen is based on the true stories of the gospels of Jesus Christ. Some locations and timelines have been combined or condensed. Backstories and some characters or dialogue have been added. 
However, all biblical and historical context and any artistic imagination are designed to support the truth and intention of the Scriptures. Viewers are encouraged to read the gospels. 

And WORLD Magazine, which tends to be very conservative and cautious about such things, has also written a glowing review: WM: "An adaptation of the Gospels worth watching" and has a 100% critic score and a 99% audience score. If you would like to catch a glimpse of how they go about bringing to life biblical and historical context alongside artistic imagination in support of the intention of the Scriptures, check out the link to a clip from one of my favorite episodes belowSince Jesus was an itinerant preacher and wandering rabbi, I think this scene captures how He might have taught His Gospel of the Kingdom messages and parables captured in the Sermon on the Mount, synagogues, Capernaum, Samaria, and throughout the Galilee of the Gentiles to children. As He did with them so generously and graciously, He welcomes all of us today, from the young to the old, to be like these little ones in how they have "ears to hear."

Jesus spends time with and teaches the children in The Chosen Episode 3: Jesus Loves the Little Children

The Chosen Series Episode 3: Jesus Love the Little Children Clip
 (5:01 minutes) + Manuscript

Jesus: So what did you do?

Older boy: I tried to walk away, but he wouldn't stop pushing me, so I pushed him so hard that he fell down.

Jesus: And that's why you were disciplined ... Did you expect something different?

Older boy: But even Torah says, "eye for an eye." Why should I be punished, too? 

Jesus: Yes, but that is for a judge. You are hardly in a court of law. And you, all of you, are to be special. You are to act differently than others. ( ... Joshua, another younger child raises his hand ... )

Joshua: You tell us to be gentle, but Rabbi Josiah said Messiah would lead us against the Romans, that he would be a great military leader. 

Jesus: It is important to respect your teachers and honor your parents. Rabbi Josiah is a smart man. But there are times when smart men lack wisdom. Is there anything in Scripture that says Messiah will be a great military leader? ... There are many things about Scripture that you cannot understand yet, and that is OK. That is fine. You have many years ahead of you. And God does not review all things at once. But children, what if many of the things our people think about how we are to behave and how we are to treat one another are wrong. ( ... The children consider these words thoughtfully ... ) You want things to be fair. When someone wrongs you, you want to right it. And you know who else loves justice? ( ... Jesus points above Him ... ) But what does the LORD say in the law of Moses about justice and vengeance? ( ... An older girl raises her hand and answers ... )

Abigail answers Jesus in The Chosen Episode 3: Jesus Loves the Little Children

Abigail: "Vengeance is Mine."

Jesus: Yes, very good. Very good. Boys, pay attention. She doesn't even go to Torah class ( ... Jesus smiles and laughs ... ). The LORD loves justice. But maybe, it is not ours to handle. And God says He will have compassion on His people when ... what? ( ... Abigail raises her hand again ... ) Let's see if someone who studies this at school is learning ( ... Jesus smiles and winks ... then Joshua raises his hand ... ).

Joshua: When their strength is gone?  

Jesus: Yes, very good. So, maybe we let God provide the justice, hmm? Maybe we handle these things in a different way, not trying to be the strongest all the time.

Older girl: Even Messiah? 

Jesus: We will have to see. But do not expect Messiah to arrive in Jerusalem on a tall horse carrying weapons. And He will be most pleased with those of you who are the peacemakers. This is My reason for being here. 

Abigail: I still don't understand. What is Your reason for being here? ( ...  Jesus pauses ... )

Jesus: I'm telling you this because even though you are children and the elders in your life have lived longer, many times adults need the faith of children. And if you hold on to this faith, really tightly, someday soon, you will understand all of what I am saying to you. But you ask an important question, Abigail. What is My reason for being here? And the answer is for all of you: "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me. He has anointed Me to proclaim Good News to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor" ( ... Joshua raises his hand ... )

Joshua: Isaiah. ( ... Jesus shakes His head, "Yes" ... )

Jesus: Isaiah. I have loved spending this time with you. You are all so very special and I hope that My next students ask the same questions you do and that they listen to My answers. But I suspect they do not have the understanding you do. And I hope that when the time comes they will tell others about Me like you have. 

The Chosen Episode 3: Jesus Loves the Little Children 5-Minute Video Clip

Bonus: The Chosen Scene: Jesus' BedTime Prayer (3:25 minutes)

The Chosen Episode 3: Jesus' BedTime Prayer

Jesus: " ... Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe ... "

Next post: Christ Over the Coronavirus Eastertide Streaming Recommendation | The Chosen Episode 6 Clip: Jesus Heals the Leper

Other Christ Over the Coronavirus recommendations:

Christ Over the Coronavirus Eastertide Playlist | 3 Songs with Ike Ndolo: We Are the Beggars + Grave to Shudder + Land of the Rising Sun 
Christ Over the Coronavirus Eastertide Painting | "Kitchen Maid with the Supper of Emmaus" by Diego Velazquez, 1618 A.D.  
Christ Over the Coronavirus Eastertide Q&A | Why Is Jesus Resurrecting? + Why Should It Matter to Me Today?  
Christ Over the Coronavirus on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22 | The Story of God in Nature During Eastertide

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike "Sully" Sullivan

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