Judas, Matthew, & The Sermon on the Mount (Exploring The Chosen Season 2 Episode 8 with Youth)
Updated: 5 days ago
Episode 8 is The Chosen Season 2 doing what The Chosen does best: providing emotional context for a Bible scene (the Sermon on the Mount). More than that, however, Episode 8 finally allows us to meet the last and most notorious of the 12 disciples, Judas Isacariot. I've been looking forward to seeing how The Chosen would handle Judas' character and Episode 8 definitely left me intrigued. But we'll hit on Judas only briefly below (see my other post to explore how The Chosen adapts Judas' character). For the most part, I want to focus on what seems to be the main thrust of the episode - that Jesus' moments of powerful teaching were not, as we might assume, simply an overflow of his own divine genius, but were rather the fruit of the collaboration of his entire team of disciples laboring together with him. This bookends well with what the prologue of Episode 1 of The Chosen Season 2 showed about the production of Scripture also being a process and should hopefully expand the way that your youth look at their own ability to contribute to Jesus' ongoing work today.
The Chosen Season 2 Episode 8 Intro Questions: The Sermon on the Mount
If you haven't watched Episode 8 of The Chosen Season 2, be aware: we don't actually see Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount. As Dallas Jenkins explained after the premiere (and in this I agree with him), a 30+ minute sermon wouldn't exactly work well in a dramatic, serialized story like The Chosen. Instead, we've seen bits and pieces of the sermon interspersed throughout The Chosen Season 2 and what we get in episode 8 is the immediate build up to it. In light of this, I think it's worth actually reading through a portion of the sermon with your youth group in preparation for watching Episode 8. You may eventually want to read all of Matthew 5-7 with your group, but for this lesson I'd suggest having your youth read the opening, since this section plays an important role in the episode:
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:1-16 ESV)
After reading this section, I would explain to your students a few bits of context:
The word "blessed" is not the same word that would be used to say something like "God has blessed me with so much." Another way to translate it would be "fortunate" or perhaps even "lucky." It's a way of saying that you're in the right place to experience a good and flourishing life.
The Beatitudes (which is just a Latin word for "blessings") are not meant to be a list of rules that we perform in order to earn Jesus' approval. In most cases, we don't necessarily need to "try" to do them. Instead they are meant to point to the kinds of people who will end up experiencing a life of flourishing in Jesus' kingdom.
When Jesus refers to "the Kingdom of Heaven," he's not just talking about going to heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven (aka The Kingdom of God) is anywhere - in heaven or earth - where God's rule is established. Although we know the Kingdom of God will one day come more perfectly when Jesus returns, Jesus was already proclaiming that the Kingdom of God had come during his first earthly ministry (Mark 1:15).
Salt is both a preservative that prevents food from decaying and an enhancer that makes it taste better. Salt was more precious in Jesus' time, before the existence of refrigerators and other preservatives.
Several of these insights are inspired by Skye Jethani's book, What if Jesus Was Serious? A Visual Guide to the Teachings of Jesus We Love to Ignore - a great resource if you're interested in exploring the Sermon on the Mount in greater depth with your youth.
Once you've discussed the context a bit, I'd ask your students a few questions:
How would you describe the types of people that Jesus says are blessed in your own words?
Can you think of some specific modern examples of people who might fit into each type?
Do you see any overall trends or patterns? What do these types of people have in common?
Many of the types of people Jesus mentions would seem to be unfortunate in the eyes of the world. Why does Jesus consider them blessed?
What do you think it means for God's people to be salt and light?
Are there ways that the people mentioned in the Beatitudes are especially gifted to be salt and light to the world?
The Chosen So Far: Review Questions
Like Episode 7, Episode 8 expects you to remember several characters from Season 1 that we haven't seen yet in The Chosen Season 2, and so doing a quick recap feels particularly important. Some points that I would suggest reviewing:
How well have the disciples been getting along during Season 2? What have been some ongoing sources of conflict and tension?
Let's review who some of the disciples are. Who was Nathanael before he met Jesus? Does anyone remember what he was going through when he met Jesus?
Who was Mary Magdalene before she met Jesus? How has her past caused her some struggles during Season 2? How has Jesus responded?
There are two pairs of brothers: James & John, the sons of Zebedee, and Simon and Andrew. How would you describe each pair?
In Episode 4 of Season 2 we met another Simon. Who was he before he met Jesus? How has following Jesus been a challenge for him?
Many of the disciples look down on Matthew. Why? But what special gifts has he been able to contribute?
In Season 1, after Mary Magdalene was exorcised, she hosted a Sabbath Meal for other social outcasts - and Jesus. Does anyone remember any of her other guests?
Like I said - a lot of stuff from Season 1 that we're expected to remember, although The Chosen telegraphs everything pretty clearly as well, so if someone hasn't watched Season 1, they'll mostly follow along.
Viewing The Chosen Season 2 Episode 8
Although The Chosen Season 2 Episode 8 did livestream on YouTube and Facebook, new episodes are now only being left up for a limited time before being taken down. To watch this season with your group, you'll need to pick up The Chosen app (Google / Apple).
While watching The Chosen Season 2 Episode 8, I would suggest only making occasional comments and not interrupting it with teaching. Let your youth enjoy it and not just see The Chosen as an elaborate preaching illustration. For the most part, I would just clarify who characters are and occasionally explain a reference or allusion that is confusing.
The Chosen Season 2 Episode 8 Discussion Questions: The Jesus Team
To begin your discussion, ask your youth group:
What stuck out to you about this episode? Were there any scenes that you found interesting or moving?
Did you have any questions about what happened?
I would point out to your students:
We usually think of Jesus' powerful teachings as something he did on his own through his incomparable divine wisdom.
Though Jesus was fully God, in becoming human, he voluntarily made himself dependent on others. We can see this most clearly when we consider Jesus' infancy, when he was completely dependent on his parents for all of his needs. And yet even in adulthood Jesus depended on others. When Jesus gathered together his disciples, it wasn't just so he could teach them. It was also so they could contribute in meaningful ways to making his ministry possible. Jesus depended on his disciples.
Episode 8 of The Chosen Season 2 really seems to be emphasizing the important contribution that the disciples made to Jesus' ministry. While the Bible doesn't record these specific actions, it's likely that the disciples contributed in many of the ways we see in the episode.
Next I would ask your youth to share how each of the following disciples contributed to making the Sermon on the Mount a success:
Big James, John, Simon (Peter), Simon (the Zealot), and Thomas
Little James, Nathanael, and Thaddeus
Ramah, Mary (Jesus' mother), Tamar, and Eden
John the Baptist
Keep in mind both practical contributions (ex. finding the location, building the stage, etc.) and also how some of them inspired him. The inspiration aspect is really emphasized during the scene when Jesus tells Matthew the Beatitudes and we get little flashbacks to moments throughout the season that embodied each Beatitude.
Once you've adequately discussed Episode 8,, I would turn the focus toward the real life implications:
In theory, Jesus could accomplish his mission by himself, but in Episode 8 we saw how he chose to depend on his disciples and their contributions. In what ways does Jesus still depend on us and our contributions in order to achieve his mission?
Each character in Episode 8 contributed in a unique way based on their gifts and background. What are some unique ways you think you can contribute based on your gifts and background?
Even Judas - who eventually betrayed Jesus - contributed in an important way. While contributing to Jesus' mission is important, why should we be cautious about measuring the faith of others based on their gifts or what they accomplish?
How do you think Jesus looks at the contributions that we make to his mission?
And just like that, Season 2 of The Chosen is done! Not my blogs though. Like I said, I probably want to do a post exploring Judas - and maybe a few other characters who have been introduced or developed in greater depth this season. I'd also like to revisit the question I posed mid-way through the season, What is The Chosen Season 2 about? and reevaluate my answer based on how the remainder of the season played out. Any other topics you'd like me to explore? Please feel free to make a request!
An adaptation like The Chosen isn't meant to replace the Bible; it's meant to drive us deeper into the Bible and spiritual reflection. The creators of The Chosen have produced an interactive Bible study that explores some of the biblical themes and Scripture that inspired Season 2.
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Contributing to The Bible Artist
Have my posts about Bible adaptation helped you learn more about the Bible and explore it with your ministry or family? I offer my work for free and rely on the generous support of readers like you. Your contributions mean so much. Thank you!
If you liked this post, you might want to check out some of my other posts on The Chosen and Bible adaptation. I have Bible studies/discussion guides for each episode of The Chosen Seasons 1-3, blogs exploring how The Chosen adapts key biblical figures, and articles exploring the controversial nature of adaptation. I hope you enjoy them!
The Chosen Season 4
The Chosen Season 4 Controversy? (The Transfiguration of Jesus & the Second Commandment)
Reflecting on The Chosen Season 3 & Anticipating Season 4: What Worked & What to Fix
The Chosen Season 3
The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 & Episode 2: Reaction and Analysis
The Chosen Season 3 Episodes 7 & 8: Recap, Review, & Analysis
The Chosen Season 3 Episodes 1 & 2: Questions to Discuss Before the Premiere
Adapting Biblical Characters Series
Thomas & Ramah in The Chosen & Scripture ***Season 3***
Yussif, Jairus, & Shmuel in The Chosen ***Season 3***
Quintus, Gaius, Atticus, and the Romans in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Little James in The Chosen & Scripture ***Season 3***
Pontius Pilate & his Wife in The Chosen ***Season 3***
Judas in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Matthew in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Simon and Andrew in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***