Updated: 17 hours ago
As I watched Episode 1 and Episode 2 of The Chosen Season 3, I felt a satisfying sense of vindication. Even in the face of unfair criticism and a thousand other challenges, The Chosen is continuing to evolve and improve, correcting its past mistakes while at the same time continuing to do what it does best. Up until this point, I haven't really done reviews or analysis of individual episodes, but I believe The Chosen has taken a major leap forward in Season 3. It only seems fitting then to mark that improvement by taking a moment to share some thoughts about what happened in Episodes 1 and 2 and the key themes that we saw highlighted. Since I won’t be able to do so without going into detail, consider this a **spoiler alert**
***Click here for questions you can use to discuss The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 with your youth, Bible study, or small group***
What happened in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 and Episode 2
It's best to think of Episodes 1 & 2 of The Chosen Season 3 as a single unit. While they do have their own individual plot arcs, I can't imagine the experience of watching them separately would be as satisfying as watching them together. So instead of trying to delineate precisely between the two episodes, I'm going to address them both together.
I've criticized some episodes of The Chosen for trying to do too much and feeling disjointed. One thing that really impressed me about Episodes 1 and 2 of Season 3 is how much ground they were able to cover while still maintaining a sense of unity, focus, and energy. Over the course of these two episodes, virtually every one of the core disciples (i.e. the 12 + the women) gets a meaningful. We also get meaningful moments for the family members of many disciples (Eden, Zebedee, Matthew's parents), set up for a plot involving Yussif (the Pharisee Shmuel used to hang out with in Capernaum), a decent amount of time with Gaius, Atticus, and Quintus, and time with John the Baptist in jail (along with a new character, Joanna). It's a lot - but it all flows together seamlessly. More importantly, Episodes 1 and 2 established a clear trajectory for the direction of The Chosen Season 3 and the conflicts that will be ensuing.
The reason Episodes 1 and 2 were able to cover so much ground without feeling disjointed is because the action of each episode was focused. Episode 1 is very aptly named homecoming - we get a plethora of individual character arcs, but they're all exploring the same basic premise: what does it look like to come home after joining Jesus in his first mission and witnessing his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Episode 2 finishes some of the homecoming arcs, while focusing on Jesus’ commissioning of the twelve apostles and preparations to spread his teaching throughout Judea while caring for the crowds that are flocking to him.
The Disciples in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 and Episode 2
Matthew in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 and Episode 2
Matthew gets the pre-credit prologue for Episode 1. We see that he isn't simply a misunderstood outcast (a criticism I had back in Season 1). He actually sent Roman solider to collect from his father, Alphaeus - who basically says "you're dead to me" in response. Matthew feels convicted by Jesus' teaching about the need to make amends with those who are angry at you (Matthew 5:21-26). When he returns to Capernaum, unlike the other disciples, he doesn't have a place to stay. He goes to his parents' house to apologize, wavers, but his old dog alerts them to his presence. To his great surprise, he is welcomed into their home - and called "son."
This storyline is completed in Episode 2, where we find out that Alphaeus was at the Sermon on the Mount and was also convicted. Both he and Matthew confess their sins – Matthew admits that he wanted a comfortable life and to be better than others while Alphaeus admits that it was wrong of him to disown his son. They both extend forgiveness to each other and Matthew is welcomed into his family home to stay, now reconciled to his parents. They decide to use his old home as a base of operations for the disciples. Under conviction about his past relationship to money, when Matthew is nominated to be the treasurer of the disciples, he rejects the nomination.
Judas in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 and Episode 2
Judas is blown away by Jesus' teaching. He immediately tells his shady mentor from Season 2 that he's backing out of the business so that he can go to the ends of the earth to spread Jesus' message. His mentor threatens to sue Judas or Jesus (most likely a foreshadowing of the events that will lead to Judas' demise), while noting how Jesus needs to take up a collection and be a better businessman. Judas meets with Jesus and asks to be taken on as a disciple, noting that he had some rabbinical training before his father died and that he can help them financially. Jesus explains to Judas that his prerequisites don't matter - what matters is that he's willing to become like Jesus and do hard things - and praise God (the named Judas means "praise Yah"). Judas returns to his home in order to hand it over to his sister Devorah. She warns him following a would-be-Messiah could get him killed, but Judas says that if Jesus is the one, he won't be killed (another set up for Judas' fall). Judas needs his life to be about more than money and believes that he can help make Jesus' organization more financially stable and efficient. This plot line is continued in Episode 2 when the Apostles are officially commissioned. Judas tries to pitch his ideas for improving finances but Jesus insists that in their first mission they all need to rely on what God provides and learn to trust God. Nevertheless, Judas is nominated to be treasurer by Matthew, who doesn't trust himself with money because of his past struggles. Judas happily accepts.
Joanna, Andrew, and John the Baptist in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 and Episode 2
The three female disciples (Mary Magdalene, Ramah, and Tamar) are approached by a rich Gentile name Joanna (Luke 8:3) who was impressed by the sermon and tries to buy an audience with Jesus by offering an expensive shawl from Nepal. Eventually, Joanna reveals that her husband works in the court of Herod Antipas and she is bearing a message from John the Baptist. Jesus gives Andrew permission to go check out John, knowing that this will give Andrew relief from the anxiety he's had about John's imprisonment. Andrew goes with Joanna to John's jail. She explains it will look bad for her if anyone finds out that she’s been visiting John – and so she threatens to make life even worse for the jailer if he tells anyone. We also learn her husband is committing adultery.
When they find John, he is ecstatic to hear about Jesus’ sermon and encourages Andrew to focus on Jesus. Andrew admits he felt convicted by Jesus’ teaching on anxiety and the need to focus first on the kingdom. John is confident that Jesus will eventually set him free, pointing out Isaiah’s prophecy about the anointed one bringing freedom from captivity and an opening of the prisons (Isaiah 61:1-4). John seems confident that Jesus will confront Herod and says the best thing they can do to help John is to listen to Jesus. Having gotten a hold on his anxiety, Andrew goes to visit Mary Magdalene. He realizes he never apologized to Mary for blaming and shaming her in Season 2, Episode 7, and he felt convicted of his need to make amends.
Thomas and Ramah in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 and Episode 2
Thomas and Ramah get several cute moments together. It’s apparent to everyone that they are in love. Thomas builds a friendship with Zebedee and confides his intent to ask Kofni to let him marry Ramah. Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene and Tamar ask Ramah if she wants to marry Thomas and she tries to downplay her excitement when she finds out that he plans to ask her father. This plot line is concluded in Episode 2, when Jesus assigns the disciples locations for ministry. He intentionally sends Thomas toward Kafni. When Thomas makes his intentions known to Jesus, Jesus affirms his desire and explains that after he’s finished the first part of his mission (evangelizing Joppa), he can then go, evangelize Kafni, and ask for Ramah’s hand in marriage. Thomas talks to Ramah about it, and she decides that she will go ahead of him to Kafni in order to start working on her father so that he will receive Thomas well.
Simon Peter and Eden in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 and Episode 2
Simon returns home excited to enjoy marital relations with Eden – especially since Eema has gone to live with her brothers now. Before they can do anything, Nathanael arrives at their home and explains he needs a place to stay. Simon is very annoyed, but Eden graciously welcomes him in. Simon the Zealot also shows up. Eventually, Simon and Eden finally get some time to “study” alone (nothing explicit shown on screen of course). They process how hard it was for Eden while Simon was gone. Simon tells Eden that he hopes they’ll get a reprieve for a moment and they can try to start having a child and Eden is very happy. This plot line continues in Episode 2. When Jesus sends the Apostles out, Eden is devastated. They have to encourage one another.
Mary Magdalene, Tamar, and Ramah in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 and Episode 2
The three women return from the Sermon on the Mount to Mary’s tiny home, which is completely empty of supplies – and they have only a little money and food amongst them. Tamar wants to sell the expensive shawl that Joanna gave them but Ramah refuses – from her time serving wine, she is offended at how rich people try to buy attention. The women chit chat a bit and think about how they will support themselves – perhaps by selling anointing oil made by Zebedee. Tamar isn’t willing to sell her jewelry because of its personal significance. When Jesus sends out the Apostles, he tasks them with caring for the pilgrims who are flocking to Capernaum to meet him and to also find ways to finance the ministry.
Big James, John, and Zebedee in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 and Episode 2
Big James is really excited to get home and eat their Mom’s home cooking. He’ a little miffed that John and Zebedee have become friends with Thomas and have left him out of the loop about a variety of things. Zebedee is very proud of his sons and reveals to them that he’s starting to make special olive oil.
Simon the Zealot and Nathanael in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 and Episode 2
In Episode 2, Simon the Zealot and Nathanael discover a shanty town of pilgrims that have come to visit Jesus. They worry that it will attract negative attention from Rome. A Zealot assassin has also arrived and begins stalking Simon the Zealot, because of his failure to follow through with the plot to execute the Roman official in Season 2, Episode 4. Later, Simon notices the assassin following him and has to evade him by climbing up a building. To his surprise, he’s confronted by Atticus, who knows that the Zealots are sending people to kill him. Simon recognizes Atticus from before and realizes who he is. Atticus explains he is fine letting Simon go free now that he's relinquished his dagger but that the Zealots will not be so forgiving – they will continue to try to hunt Simon down. Atticus also warns that if the Zealots gather in Capernaum, he will have to deal with them himself. Simon also discover for the first time that Matthew was a tax collector – as Jesus pairs the two of them together for mission, noting that Matthew is no more a tax collector now than Simon is a Zealot.
Jesus and the 12 in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 and Episode 2
We see a significant amount of the Sermon on the Mount in Episode 1, and reactions from each disciple to parts that spoke to them. In the later half of Episode 2, Jesus gathers the twelve and dubs them his Apostles and gives them the speech in Matthew 10. He explains they will go out and extend his ministry by healing the sick and casting out demons across all of Judea (but only to Jews at this point). The disciples are in a bit of disbelief that he can just give them this power – especially given how little teaching many of them have received by this point. Jesus also explains that they are to take hardly anything with them so they can instead rely on God and on others. He tells them to not fear those who kill the body – which freaks them out more – so he explains they will eventually follow him into death but not yet. They are preparing the way so that when he comes, people will be ready to receive his authority and his teaching. Jesus divides them into pairs: Simon and Judas, Andrew and Philip, Nathanael and Thaddeus, John and Thomas, Big James and Little James, Matthew and Simon the Zealot. Later, the disciples (without Jesus) meet at Matthew’s old house to eat one last time together. Simon gives them all a pep talk and leads them in praying Psalm 3.
Jesus and Little James in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 and Episode 2
Little James gets one scene in Episode 2, but it’s powerful. He explains to Jesus that he doesn’t get how he’s being given the power to heal others, when he himself remains unhealed of his own disability. Jesus explains he could heal James now, but it will be an even greater and more unique testimony to people if they see James praising God in spite of his continued infirmity. James confides to Jesus that he feels like a burden and like the weakest of the disciples. Jesus encourages him – his physical infirmities are far less of a burden than the spiritual infirmities of others – God is not impressed by what men care about. James in his weakness can discover true strength. Jesus assures James that he will be healed, even if it’s not until eternity.
Pharisees and Romans in The Chosen Season 3, Episode 1 and Episode 2
Yussif in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 and Episode 2
Reminder: in Season 2, we dicovered that Yussif, though a Pharisee, is actually a Jesus sympathizer. Yussif is clearly impressed by the Sermon on the Mount (as are the regular people whom he overhears contrasting Jesus' personal authority with the derivative authority of the Pharisees). He returns to his synagogue to write about it and encounters Jairus (Mark 5:21-43), who has become the new administrator. Jairus hints that he has come to bring order because of the chaos created by the Jesus movement. He suggests that Yussif should take whatever he writes about Jesus' teaching and place it in his vault for a few days or weeks, to let his mind settle (basically the "don't send an emotional email response until you've let it sit for a day" rule). Yussif appreciates this advice. He finishes writing what he heard from Jesus - in a letter to Nicodemus - and leaves it with Jairus.
Gaius, Atticus, and Quintus in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 and Episode 2
Gaius and Atticus play buddy cop. They get a brief moment in Episode 1 after the Sermon on the Mount, where they’re both trying to process what they just heard (especially the teaching on enemies/retaliation) and don’t talk much. In Episode 2, they notice the shanty town of pilgrims coming to visit Jesus and are concerned about Quintus’ reaction. Atticus also hints that he can tell Gaius has a struggle in his personal life that he’s keeping secret. When they go to report, Quintus is in a bad mood because there’s sewage in the water. When they tell Quintus about the camps, he’s annoyed about the further disruption to Roman order. More importantly, he’s mad that they haven’t told him about Jesus’ sermon sooner. They both lie, downplaying the significance of the sermon by claiming it was just about Jewish customs. Atticus provides Quintus with a potential solution to the shanty town problem – he can extend the city borders to include it and tax the pilgrims. But Atticus warns Quintus that he needs to use a light touch – the empire wants order and not violence. Atticus ominously mentions to Quintus how he’s going back to Jerusalem soon to meet with Pilate. As noted above, Atticus warns Simon the Zealot about his pursuers – an act that suggests he has some sympathies with the Jesus movement. We also see Gaius restraining another Roman soldier from engaging in violence as they patrol through the camp, reminding him to use a light touch while enforcing the law. Gaius meets Matthew outside his home (just before the disciples meet together) and promises to watch out for the safety of the disciples. He encourages Matthew to use his wits while he’s out on mission, clearly indicating that he’s come to have a more positive view of the Jesus movement.
Key Themes in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 and Episode 2
We see just a handful of key themes woven throughout these storylines:
Jesus’ word brings conviction and action
I was surprised at how much of the Sermon on the Mount they included all at once, but what they did worked – because the scene wasn’t primarily about listening to Jesus give a sermon, it was about watching the disciples (and others) listen to Jesus give a sermon. The actors did a great job at using non-verbal communication to show how they were processing what they heard and experiencing conviction. Most of the action of Episode 1 is then driven by the need to respond to the conviction brought by Jesus’ words – especially his words about the need to reconcile (Matthew with his parents; Andrew with Mary) and the need to not worry (Andrew’s worry about John; the women’s worry about money, Eden's worry about Simon), and the need to not focus on money (Judas, Matthew, Tamar). The show did an excellent job depicting the experience of conviction in a way that felt authentic and not corny (which is how it usually looks in most Christian movies). During Season 1, I accused the show of focusing too much on the “Jesus loves outsiders” dynamic to the exclusion of Jesus dealing with sin. This episode totally made up for it. Looking back, there’s a logic: often when God first pursues us, his focus is on showing us his love and welcoming us in. Eventually though, as we get closer to Jesus, he begins to shine more light on the areas of our lives that need to change. I also loved John the Baptist’s line about how when Jesus speaks, there’s usual a little something in it for all of us – such a true description of how sermons work.
Jesus brings reconciliation
The reconciliation scenes between Matthew and his family, between Andrew and Mary, and between Matthew and Gaius were all really well done. I think what I appreciated most is that, while they were emotional, there was also a realistic awkwardness and a degree of complexity.
Jesus has a special plan for each of us
Judas, Matthew, and Little James all have realizations about how in spite of – and often because of – the difficulties they’ve faced in life, they’ve been shaped in unique ways to carry out Jesus’ mission.
Jesus doesn’t need us – but he wants to use us
This insight gets highlighted when Jesus commissions the Apostles and gives them authority and power over healing and demons even though they feel inadequate. I also think this idea is highlighted in an interesting way through the contrast between Judas and Matthew. It’s a bad sign that Judas’ first move is to give Jesus the resume of all the things he can offer and he’s a little too excited to be nominated treasurer, not recognizing the temptation that money poses. By contrast, Matthew never would have dreamed of asking to follow Jesus and when he gets nominated for treasurer, he rejects the nomination, in spite of his ability, because Matthew knows avoiding temptation is more important than showing off his gifts. Judas ‘belief that Jesus needs him may lead him to follow his own plans instead of following Jesus’ plan (i.e., trusting God).
Jesus’ plan is counterintuitive and trusting it is hard
We see several characters struggle with the counterintuitive nature of Jesus’ will and mission. Andrew struggles with seeing John in jail, Simon and Eden struggle when their plan to begin a family is disrupted almost immediately, Little James struggles because Jesus hasn’t healed him, Thomas struggles when it initially seems like his plan to seek Ramah in marriage might get disrupted. In many cases, Jesus brings a degree of relief – he sends Andrew to John to be reassured, he talks to Little James, and he ends up sending Thomas in the direction of Kafni. But not everything ends happily. Simon and Eden aren’t given an easy out – but they’re called to follow Jesus and pursue the kingdom first, trusting that everything else will be provided by God.
Following Jesus will eventually lead to suffering
The disciples don’t experience any persecution in Episodes 1 and 2 of The Chosen Season 3, but Jesus makes it clear that suffering is coming.
Jesus’ movement disrupts order
The show did a great job of recasting the Roman characters. In Season 1, Quintus sometimes felt a little cartoonishly evil. In Season 3, his motivations are much clearer. He’s still a selfish narcissist, but he’s also a bit insecure. He feels pressure to maintain an appearance of order in order to please the authorities above him. Atticus and Gaius are initially able to find a peaceful way to respond to the disorder created by the Jesus movement (i.e., the shanty town). Eventually though, it’s clear that the disorder caused by the movement will become too much to ignore or contain and the Romans will feel justified in using harsher measures. Yussif’s story also highlights this theme as well. Jairus has come to bring order in the religious realm, which he initially does peacefully by simply cautioning Yussif from rashly publishing anything about Jesus without thinking it through. That’s all well and good – but often the appropriate response to Jesus isn’t to just sit and chill – it’s to act in response to conviction. I imagine we’ll see Yussif struggling – and ultimately we’ll see Jairus give up on his pursuit of order when he needs his daughter healed.
There are a few other important ideas, but those were the ones that stood out to me most. Did I miss anything? Anything else about Episodes 1 and 2 that you guys enjoyed? Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!
The Chosen Season 3 Episode 1 and Episode 2 FAQ
What was the prayer the disciples prayed at the end of The Chosen Season 3 Episode 2?
At the end of The Chosen Season 3, Episode 2, Simon Peter leads the disciples in praying Psalm 3, a prayer David wrote while he was pursued by his son, Absalom.
What is the prayer Jesus prays over his disciples in The Chosen Season 3, Episode 1?
During The Chosen Season 3, Episode 1, just before sending his disciples back home, Jesus pronounces that blessing of Aaron over them (Numbers 6:22-27). The Blessing of Aaron was a benediction God gave to the priests of Israel to place his favor on the people of Israel.
What Scriptures are The Chosen Season 3, Episode 1 and Episode 2 based on?
The Chosen Season 3 Epis