The Chosen is the world’s first multi-season television program based on the life of Christ. It is also the largest crowdfunded project of all time. The Chosen tells the story of the last three years of Jesus Christ’s life from the perspective of those who knew him best: his disciples and their families.
In The Chosen, there is a scene that showcases the entirety of Jesus Christ’s purpose on earth, while also showcasing how truly powerful he was.
One of the tenets of Christianity is just how powerful Jesus Christ was. Many TV shows and films have showcased this power in various ways. However, I think The Chosen did it best, to frame that power while keeping the focus on the characters.
Dallas Jenkins created this program to be a fictionalized version of Jesus, however one based on the descriptions of him in the Bible and other historical texts. The scene I will be describing below is not in the Bible in detail, only mentioned in passing. What Jenkins did was look at other biblical situations that were similar to what they were writing, and how Jesus interacted with people in those situations, then take that information and craft a fictionalized scene based on how Jesus acted in other documented events. This way they made sure that the way the character of Jesus they had written in these scenes was in keeping with his documented personality. That being said, Jenkins still stresses that this portrayal of Christ, while based on the accounts, is still fictional, and one he hopes points viewers back to the Bible’s accounts of Jesus.
Let’s lay the scene, The Chosen is a show about the last three years of the life of Christ, and Season 1 Episode 1 lays the groundwork for where the various characters are before their fateful meetings with Jesus. The show’s main focus though is on Mary of Magdala. We are shown Mary Magdalene. A woman possessed by many demons, she is tormented and wishes for death. The religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees, try to cleanse her only to be chastised by the demonic forces inside her, with the leader of the Pharisees saying, “Only God himself could heal her,” before they abandon her to her eventual doom.
The episode leads up to the final scene, where Mary Magdalene is drinking herself to oblivion to try and get the courage to kill herself. Jesus approaches her, and she flees from him into the night. He then stops her simply by calling out her real name, a name no one had called her by since childhood, and no one knows but her.
The episode had built up a big demonic confrontation, however, the scene is quiet; after calling her by name, she asks Jesus who he is. He does not answer only says:
Thus says the Lord who created you and He who formed you: “Fear not for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You…are mine.”
He then places his hands on her head and pulls her in, as a look of peace and relief washes over her face. She embraces him, and the episode ends.
The interesting and beautiful aspect of this scene is that it keeps the focus lasered in on the people in it. It’s not about the demonic activity; we don’t hear the demons speak or even see evidence of their existence. It’s not about Mary’s past or even Jesus’s future. It’s all about the redemption of a single individual, the freeing of one tormented person’s soul.
The dialogue that Jesus speaks is significant, as we saw earlier in the episode that the verse is important to her, as her father had read it to her, and later after she experiences a demonic episode, she reads it to try and comfort herself.
Mary is a woman who has had a broken life. Her father died when she was young, and then it’s heavily insinuated that she was raped by the Romans. Her life is governed by fear, abandonment, and powerlessness. The Chosen gently alludes that Mary’s possession may have come about as a means to gain back her power after her rape, as we see what looks like pagan religious trinkets in her home. However, she is still a victim as the possible means of power that she sought have enslaved her and further isolated her from everyone she seeks connection with.
Even those who come to save her, the religious leaders, abandon her to her fate after being unable to cast the demons out of her. Her last effort of taking control of her life, her suicide attempt, is a failure. Mary feels like she is worthless, she hurts those around her and is tormented day and night.
She longs to be rescued, and the words of Isaiah 43 are her last beacon of hope that things could get better. However by the start of the scene, she has given up all hope and has destroyed the paper the verse is written on, content to drink herself to death.
This scene showcases power, but power of a quiet nature; the episode sets up a titanic confrontation between the Son of God and a demon only he could defeat. However, there are no giant bursts of energy, no screaming, and wailing, no shadowy demon roaring, nothing that we have come to expect from exorcism scenes.
This scene showcases likely the most powerful version of Christ seen on screen. The religious leaders said only God could help her, yet when Christ casts the demons from her soul, his power is so great they are silenced, unable to even speak—she is freed simply by his touch.
The decision to forgo a splashy exorcism in favor of a quiet moment focused on redemption and worthiness is powerful. Mary is a woman who has been unseen her whole life, who has been abused and mistreated, who has given into dark powers and lost all hope. However Jesus comes to her, he tells her he sees her, says that she is valuable, not to fear, and most importantly, he says she is wanted.
The Chosen seeks to portray a Jesus that is relatable, kind and compassionate, yet who carries a lot of power as well. This scene perfectly encapsulates the Jesus the show has crafted, a Jesus who seeks to cast out fear, deliver freedom from oppression, to bring value to those who feel worthless, to redeem and to make those he has chosen his.