Living Faith – ‘The Chosen’

Looking at the phenomenon of the TV series, ‘The Chosen’. What can this piece of television tell us about the person of Jesus at the centre of our faith?

Videos are embedded here from the official ‘The Chosen’ YouTube channel. (NB you will need to fast forward approximately 10 minutes to get to the episodes themselves, apart from the Christmas Episode, which is the last 20 minutes of the video.)

Background to the story of The Shepherd from The Bible Project
The Chosen – The Shepherd

Living Faith – ‘The Chosen’ – Week 1: The Shepherds

The approach we are going to use is: ‘imagine you are there’

  • Imagine we are one or more of the characters
  • How does this form how we see the person of Jesus?
  • How does this speak into our lives today?

In this case – imagine being a ‘Simon’ – the Shepherd’s servant, the one with the Crutch.

  • Imagine what it is like
  • What he may feel or think
  • What questions come to mind
  • How do these questions, thoughts or feelings relate to our own world?
  • What might God be saying to us – even right now?

Questions (not all the questions will be helpful – simply choose those that you are drawn to):

  1. (4.56) Judgement and rejection:
    1. What was it like to be rejected by the Priest examining the Lambs?
    1. What is it like to be labelled ‘an outsider,’ ‘unworthy,’ ‘not good enough’, either by others or by yourself?
    1. Have you had similar experiences?  In wider life, within our ‘self,’ within the Church?
    1. Yet, Simon wants to know, wants to believe.
    1. Have we had that sort of conversation, past or present, between belief and rejection – part of us wants to trust and say “yes,” and, for all sorts of reasons, part of us can hold back or say, “no”?
    1. Reference Simon makes to Ezekiel about the Messiah – Ezekiel 34
      1. Vs 11-16 – “God will come and be the Shepherd”
      1. Vs 23-24 – will raise up a Shepherd servant who will care for the Sheep, like David.
      1. Messianic hope.
  • What do you think Simon’s crutch represents (symbolism):
    • to him – personal?
    • to Israel – i.e., public?
    • to each of us today – personal?
    • To our world today?
  • The suffering of Simon personally, representative of outcasts of society
  • The oppression of Roman rule at the time
  • What ‘crutches’ do we use?
  • Can also be something to help – hold you up when needed
  • (6.50) Acts of Kindness – meeting Mary and Joseph
    • Simon offers a young couple new to town water from a waterskin.
    • To show an act of kindness is to court angels and entertain God
    • Have you ever offered kindness and been surprised by the outcome?  Or received such kindness and not know where it has come from?
    • How has this affected you?
  • (8.14) How God is faithful to His word – the Priest reads from the Old Testament scroll
    • Isaiah 35 – one of the most inspirational passages anywhere in the Bible
    • Turns the values and the way of understanding the world upside down
    • God is not just sending a Messiah, but a Kingdom
    • What governs how we see life?
    • Do we simply follow the values of our world, our culture?
    • What would ‘Jesus’ values look like today:
      • For our world?
      • For us personally?
      • For the Church?
  • (12.13) Spiritual Experience – the visit of the Angels:
    • What was it like to be Simon, or any of the other Shepherds, to have gone through such an experience?
    • How would we feel if this happened today? Fear? Awe? Amazement? Disbelief? Wonder?
    • Have you ever had a ‘spiritual experience’ – however big or small, where you really felt the presence of God, or of angels?
    • Maybe read Luke 2:8-15 over to yourself – what thoughts feelings come to mind, both if you had been there then, and now?

Living Faith – ‘The Chosen’ – Week 2: The Shepherds continued

  1. (13.16) Strengthened by our faith – running and letting go of our crutches
    1. What is it like for Simon to let go?
    1. What would it be like, what has it been like, to let go of the things that so often hold us back?
    1. In Simon, Isaiah 25 is fulfilled.
  •  (14.00) He is named “Immanuel”
    • Comes from Isaiah 7:14 – “God with us”
  • (15.49) What is it like to hold God in your hands:
    • Simon is offered to hold the Messiah in his own hands, how do you think he felt?
    • What would it be like if God was to place Himself into our hands, making Himself small, vulnerable like a child, how would we feel?
  • (16.48) He is to be called “Jesus” (Yeshua – Joshua)
    • The name means “the Lord saves.”
  • (18.47) Do we want to know “a spotless Lamb for sacrifice?”

Living Faith – ‘The Chosen’ – Week 3: The Calling of the Disciples: Part One

The approach we are going to use is: ‘imagine you are there’

The key thing is to look into imagining what it is like to be each of the characters listed below, not just this week, but over the coming weeks too as the characters stories develop:

This week – imagine being Mary, Nicodemus or Matthew Imagine what it is like

Questions/Comments (not all the questions will be helpful – simply choose those that you are drawn to):

Background to Mary Magdalene:

  • In short: “Explore Magdala” – by Appian Media for recent historical and archaeological discoveries especially the 1st cent Synagogue that Jesus more than likely preached at: (145) Explore: Magdala – YouTube (Press Ctrl and left click of your mouse over the link to take you to YouTube)
  • For the beautiful new Church that has been built on site to honour Mary Magdalene, and all the female disciples see the first half of: Sergio and Rhoda’s video “Magdala: the Town of Mary Magdalene:” (145) Magdala, The Town of Mary Magdalene – YouTube
  • Taking Longer: to understand the vastly changing understanding of who Mary Magdalene actually was, based on evidence found here and other evidence regarding women in Jesus new community see the film: “Mary Magdalene” (2018) (Available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime).
  1. (3.00)  The Story of Mary Magdalene – a person gravely misunderstood:
    1. Children were nurtured in the Scriptures by family members – quote is from Isaiah 43:1
    1. Idea that she had seven demons driven out of her – Luke 8:2. Overlook the fact that Mary is seen as one of the women, along with Susanna, the wife of Chuza, from Herod’s court, who “were helping support them [the disciples and Jesus] out of their own means.” Luke 8:4
    1. It was Pope Gregory the Great ( or not so great) in 591AD who linked Mary with the unnamed woman “who let her down” at Simon the Pharisees house when Jesus reclined at dinner (see Luke 7:37-38) something really only a ‘loose woman’ or a prostitute was thought to do. 
    1. Mary has been misunderstood ever since – until Pope Francis in 2016 declared she was, “The Apostle to the Apostles” being the first to bear witness to the resurrection (see John 20)
    1. The community she came from had labelled her as having ‘demons’ in her – what labels do we carry?
    1. How different Mary’s reputation, the Church, and Western society may well have been if we had taken Jesus seriously.
    1. Who does Jesus see us as?
  • (4.34)  The Story of Nicodemus – a person with much to learn and much to lose:
    • Steeped in knowledge of the Scriptures and in the interpretation of the Law (as recorded in the Talmud, stored at Hebron).
    • As a leading Pharisee he was a member of the Sanhedrin ruling Council (one of only seventy)
    • Highly respected and therefore had much to lose.
    • See the agony of his dilemma played out in John’s Gospel (John 3:1-21, John 7:50-51, John 19:39-42)
    • By John 19:39-42 – it is Nicodemus who both goes with Joseph of Arimathea to ask Pilate for Jesus’ body and Nicodemus who provides the mixture of myrrh and spices to anoint Jesus’ body for burial (about 100 Roman pounds – 33kg) the equivalent for a ‘royal’ burial.
    • Through being ‘born again’ through Jesus, is he betraying his teaching? Or fulfilling the scriptures?
  • (7.15) The Story of Matthew – the person also who has much to lose and much to gain, albeit differently:
    • Matthew is a tax collector in Capernaum
    • They were Loan Sharks for Herod as well as Tax Collectors
    • Herod raised taxes to pay for elaborate palaces and building projects
    • If couldn’t pay then small holdings were given to landowners (to form estates)
    • So many of Jesus’ parables talk about this, eg:
      • Parable of the Vineyard Workers (Matt 20:1-16)
      • Parable of the two debtors (Luke 7:36-50)
      • Parable of the Vineyard (Matt 21:28-46)
    • Led to tax collectors being seen as some of the most marginalised and despised as evidenced by the exchange Matthew has in this clip
    • Hard for someone like Matthew to change
    • Hard for others to allow someone like Matthew to change
    • An example of someone who has ‘sold out’ to Rome
    • A man ostracized by society being offered a different life.
    • What does this teach us about the nature of God?