Hi. Welcome to my recap and reaction to The Chosen, the crowd-funded, first ever multi-season TV series about the life of Jesus and his disciples. You can find my prior posts about the show HERE.
THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:
Jesus meets, befriends, and teaches a group of children who discover his camp site just outside of Capernaum.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
The episode opens with Jesus praying intently adjacent to the tent wherein he apparently lives.
The next day, a little girl of about 9 or 10 years, doll in hand, tells her mother that she is going down to the stream. We see her skip and run across a small open space until she abruptly reaches Jesus’s camp site. He is not there, at the moment, so she looks around and pretends to feed her doll with his wooden spoon. When she hears a branch crack, she runs away to hide behind a rock wall some distance away, and from there she spies on him as he returns to his things.
That night, we see a scene of Jesus starting a fire with sticks. We also see the home of the girl, Abigail. Her parents are discussing the financial struggles of a friend of Abigail’s mom. When the other asks Abigail how her day was, the girl says it was fine and asks if she can play with a boy named Joshua the following day. Abigail’s mother consents, provided that Abigail do her chores first.
Jesus – at his camp site – washes his own feet and prays in thanks for sleep.
The next day, Abigail is with Joshua excitedly telling him about the previous day. Without giving Joshua a chance to reply to anything she is saying, she discusses possibly taking food from the man’s camp site this time and whether they should talk to him if he is there. As she asks the younger Joshua if he has a sword, just in case, she proclaims that she sees his camp. When they arrive, Jesus is praying over bread and he adds to the end of his prayer that if there are ever two children who come to his home that God will give them the courage to say Shalom so that they will know that they do not have to remain in hiding.
At their mention, Joshua wants to run away but Abigail encourages him to stay. Just then, Jesus starts making funny noises so that the two children will laugh. When Abigail finally stands and reveals herself, Jesus tells her that it is not safe for children to wander away from her home and he commends her wisdom in bringing a friend this time. Joshua then stands and Jesus commends his bravery and tells both of them that he is not a bad man. Jesus then tells both of them that they are welcome to stay but that he has work to be doing.
Abigail asks Jesus a lot of questions about what he is making, how he makes money, and where he is from. He shows her some of the things he is making, so that he can trade them for food, Abigail shows Jesus her doll, named Sarah, and tells him that her mother made it. When Jesus tells her that it is very pretty, she announces that it is time to go home. She and Joshua scurry away and Jesus laughs as they go.
That night, we see Jesus alone in his camp. He finishes the wooden lock he has been working on, and then prays before sleep.
The following morning, the children are gathered next to Jesus who is sleeping inside his tent. Abigail tells the others to leave him alone. A new voice whispers the question of whether or not he is dead. Jesus opens his eyes and sees six children staring down at him. Abigail asks him if they can be around today, and he replies that he supposes she can, but adds that he has work to do today and suggests that they might have to help. The kids all agree enthusiastically.
As Jesus washes up, the kids asks him how long he will be staying here and he says until it is time to leave, explaining that he has work to do and some people to meet. One of the other kids asks if he is dangerous, and he admits that maybe he is to some, but says that he is not dangerous to them and will not harm them.
The kids start quizzing him, asking if his father is rich – such that he can provide Jesus with what he needs. Joshua asks Jesus what his favorite food is and after Jesus initially replies that he likes many foods, he tells the group that he especially likes bread. Jesus checks on the progress of the work being done by the children and after he is satisfied, he asks the group if they know how to pray the Shema.
Jesus: Oh, I would love to hear it. You lead us.
As the children give the prayer, the camera focuses on Jesus, who is moved by their prayer, and when they finish he tells them that it is beautiful and very good.
The kids return the conversation to why Jesus does not have a home and he explains that he has a larger job than just being a craftsman or a teacher. He adds that everyone has a larger job than their trade and says that everyone of them are called to learn God’s word and to share it. Jesus tells the kids that for him this means he will be doing his work in many places.
Later, alone, the kids debate about Jesus’s job. Abigail suggests that he might be a new prophet but a boy tells her that there are no new prophets because Rabbi Josiah said so. He speculates that Jesus might be a murderer. Abigail and Joshua both reject this supposition. The children all agree that no matter what, they will not tell anyone about Jesus.
We see a montage of scenes, from the next few days, of Jesus meeting with the children, teaching them to pray, and making crafts with them. In a particularly funny moment, Jesus tells the children about the story of Elisha and the she-bears, loudly vocalizing the roars of the bears.
Sometime later, we see Jesus teaching the children. The older boy who speculated earlier that Jesus might be a murderer is sharing a story of an incident wherein he got into a fight. He explains to Jesus that he tried to walk away but that the other boy would not stop pushing him. The boy tells Jesus that he pushed the other boy so hard that he fell down.
Jesus: And that’s why you were punished. Did you expect something different?
Boy: But even Torah says eye for eye, why should I be punished, too?
Jesus: Yes, but that is for a judge. You were hardly in a court of law. And you, all of you, are to be special. You are to act differently than others.
Joshua speaks up and says that while Jesus tells them to be gentle, Rabbi Josiah teaches them that the Messiah will come to lead them against the Romans. Before answering, Jesus tells all of them that it is important to respect their teachers, then he says that sometimes those teachers are wrong. He asks the group where in the Scripturas it says that the Messiah will be a great military leader. He returns the conversation to one of how to behave and asks them what the Lord says in the law of Moses about justice and vengeance. Abigail raises her hand and answers that the Lord says “vengeance is mine.” Jesus tells all of them that the Lord loves justice but that maybe it is not theirs to handle.
Jesus reminds all of them of the time that David could have killed Saul, but did not, because Saul was God’s anointed and because it was not the right time for justice – even though Saul had been evil and unfair to him.
The children ask Jesus where he was the night before and he explains that he stayed in town to help a woman who needed his help. He tells them that he is where he is now, to call more people to travel with him. The children ask him what he will do if they do not like him, and he shrugs and answers that many will not. He then tells the children why he is in town and explains that the Spirit of the Lord is upon him.
Jesus: He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
Joshua recognizes and notes aloud that Jesus is quoting from Isaiah and Jesus nods in agreement. Jesus then tells the group that he has loved spending time with them and that he hopes his next students are as good as they are, that they ask the same questions, and that when the time comes they will tell others about him as they have. After, we see all the children walking home.
That night, by the firelight, Jesus works on a project.
The next day, Abigail arrives at Jesus’s camp and sees that he is gone. However, he has left her a toy and a note. The note is addressed to her and he says that he knows she can read and that this doll house is for her. We see Abigail and her doll, playing with her new toy, as the episode ends.
The actress that portrayed Abigail gave a preconscious and adorable performance.
I suspect that in some quarters, this episode was met with a lot of hostility due to the fact that its events exist entirely outside of Scripture. However, as I did not see anything in this episode which was at odds with Scripture, I enjoyed it as our first introduction to the personality of Jesus in the series.
There are a few things in this episode which an observant Christian might not be aware of. One of them is the Shema, which derives from Deuteronomy 6. Another example of potential misunderstanding, in the episode, is its depiction of Jesus as a craftsman rather than a carpenter. HERE is a good article on the work Jesus most likely did.
As for the story itself, it is a warm and enjoyable short-episode. We see Jesus in private, praying earnestly. We see him as a serious and loving teacher. We also see him having fun with the children – most memorably to me, on that front, was Jesus doing the bear roar when teaching the children the story of Elisha and the she-bears.
This was a much shorter episode than previous offerings but it is a welcome change of pace from the tense and dramatic first two episodes. We get to know Jesus in a quiet setting before we revisit his interactions with his Chosen in the upcoming episodes.