Updated: Oct 18
In the wake of the jam-packed, two-part premiere, Episode 3 of The Chosen Season 3 slows down the action and provides us with a heartwarming, reflective installment focused solely on Jesus and his trip home to Nazareth for Rosh Hashanah. Looking back on the past two seasons, it's interesting to note that this has become a recurring pattern: Episode 3 of Season 1 was also focused on a single storyline (Jesus teaching the little children) as was Episode 3 of Season 2 (the disciples sitting around the fire while Jesus healed). By focusing on a single storyline, the Episode 3's are able to create space for moments of humor, sadness, and authenticity. That's probably why Season 1 Episode 3 and Season 2 Episode 3 have been among my favorite episodes of The Chosen so far - and why Season 3 Episode 3 may be my favorite episode of The Chosen Season 3 so far. [Want to study Episode 3 with your youth group? Check out this Bible study and discussion guide!]
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What Happened in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 3
Summarizing Episodes 1 & 2 of The Chosen Season 3 was a complicated task, but summarizing Episode 3 is fairly simple. The episode is an adaptation of Luke 4:16-30, with a few flashbacks to Jesus' upbringing (Luke 2:52).
Episode 3 Act I
Episode 3 begins with a short scene of Jesus as a toddler playing with another baby (John the Baptist? Lazarus?). After the credits, we see Jesus arriving at Mary's home in Nazareth on the night before Rosh Hashanah. His mother serves him a meal and they make a little small talk, discussing the lives of his disciples. We learn that Jesus' brothers James and Jude have decided to not celebrate the holiday at home in order to avoid conflict (it's implied that they are jealous of all the attention he is receiving). Eventually, Jesus asks his mother for a box. She initially tries to dodge the request because she understands that this is a sign that his time is coming soon (Jesus replies "If not now, when? - a call back to something Mary says to Jesus in Season 1 Episode 5). Jesus finds the box by his bed and takes out a bridle.
The next day the people of Nazareth are celebrating Rosh Hashanah with music, dancing, and horns. Jesus runs into the couple whose wedding he blessed with wine in Season 1 Episode 5. The story of that miracle as well as his other miracles and teachings has spread. Jesus' childhood friend, Lazarus, shows up, having traveled from Bethany with his sisters Mary and Martha. Mary wants to know if the rumors that Jesus is claiming to be the Messiah are true, but Lazarus hushes her. Everyone is clearly curious - but also hesitant to broach the controversial subject Lazarus prods the local teacher, Rabbi Benjamin, to let Jesus give the teaching for Rosh Hashanah. Even though Jesus didn't finish Bet Midrash - the proper rabbinical schooling - the rabbi concedes and Jesus agrees to find something impactful to share.
Episode 3 Act II
The next scene begins with the start of the synagogue service. During Rabbi Benjamin's opening blessing, special emphasis is given to how God "has chosen us [the Jews] from all the peoples" and to how the people are awaiting "the promised arrival of Mashiach, your anointed one, the son of David." Jesus is invited up and kindly praises the Rabbi and humbly invites the audience to help him if he misses a word while reading. Everyone watches intently as Jesus reads from Isaiah 61 and announces that the Jubilee, the year of God's favor, has arrived and redemption is being offered to the brokenhearted. Rabbi Benjamin questions why Jesus has stopped the reading in the middle of the passage and left out the part about "the day of the vengeance of our God" (Isaiah 61:2) - especially given the Roman oppression. Jesus explains that he has not come to bring vengeance but rather salvation. The Rabbi questions how Jesus can claim that he himself is the one bringing salvation and redemption.
Jesus pivots the conversation and explains that he has come to bring about a release from spiritual debt, not physical debt. The Rabbi is offended at this notion, noting that the descendants of Abraham do not have spiritual debt (cf. John 8:31-33). They continue to press Jesus to explain whether he is merely a rabbi or something more. Jesus continues to be evasive, but acknowledges that it's understandable that they would have a hard time receiving him since a prophet is not without honor, except in his own town (John 4:44), where everyone has seen him grow up. He knows that they will want signs and miracles but calls their attention to the stories of Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-16) and Elisha and Naaman (2 Kings 5) to illustrate the kind of people that receive signs and wonders: those who are brokenhearted and spiritually desperate. Jesus warns the people that until they accept their own spiritual poverty, he cannot save them. At this, the Rabbi questions whether Jesus is claiming to speak for the Lord or if he is claiming to be the Messiah, to which Jesus simply says "yes." The Rabbi warns that if he doesn't recant, they will be forced to execute him, according to the Law of Moses, to which Jesus responds, "I am the Law of Moses." When the people attempt to seize Jesus, Lazarus tries to intervene and smooth things over, but Jesus tells his friend not to worry and allows himself to be taken away.
Episode 3 Act III
Jesus is brought to the edge of a cliff for execution because of his alleged false prophesy. Rabbi Benjamin is visibly sorrowful because his respect for Mary and the deceased Joseph. Jesus refuses to recant but tells the Rabbi and the crowd that now is not the time for his death. With that, he walks past the crowd, which appears to be either too shocked to respond or supernaturally mesmerized. Jesus goes to the tomb of his father, Joseph, and we flashback to a memory of his childhood. We see Joseph teaching Jesus to read using Isaiah 61 and discussing what it means to be brokenhearted. They two have a bonding moment as Jesus helps hammer together two pieces of wood (incidentally shaped like a cross) and Joseph plays a trick on him. Joseph brings out the box that Jesus was looking for in Act I and takes out the bridle. He explains that it belonged to their ancestor who came out of Egypt in the Exodus and has been handed down through their family for many generations as a reminder of God's past deliverance and the hope of future deliverance. Joseph gives it to Jesus, even though he knows Jesus will probably not have a son to pass it on to himself. He tells Jesus that stewarding his life on this earth has been the greatest honor he could ever ask for and prays he has done right.
Jesus is still standing at the tomb lost in thought when Mary and Lazarus arrive. They are relieved to find that he is okay. Lazarus has Jesus' bag, filled with supplies and the bridle. Jesus explains to his mother that he had to say what he said but knows it must have been frightening for her. He notes that there's no turning back now; this will be his last visit to Nazareth. He asks Mary to leave for the time being as well and go to stay with Lazarus in Bethany. Lazarus tells him to come visit them soon - perhaps for the next Rosh Hashanah.
The Chosen Season 3 Episode 3: Review
As I noted above, Episode 3 may be my favorite episode of The Chosen Season 3 so far. The scenes flowed quite smoothly and created an emotionally engaging experience - while also exploring some very deep and complex themes. A few aspects of the episode I enjoyed the most:
I have a two year old right now, so the short scene of Jesus as a toddler hit home in a special way.
The depiction of Jesus' relationship with Mary (his mother) was endearing
It was interesting to see Jesus hanging out with a childhood friend (Lazarus). Although the Bible doesn't say that Jesus and Lazarus were childhood friends, I think depicting them as such was a smart adaptive choice, since it gives their relationship a unique quality and makes sense of the special affection that Jesus clearly does have for him in the Bible.
The show found several clever ways to communicate the tension between Jesus' limitations as a human, his humility, and his role as the Messiah. In the past I've invited friends to speculate about what it would be like to play sports with Jesus in the new heavens and new earth. While most people believe that Jesus would win any competition he competed in, I've always been of the belief that his physical body and skills are limited and that he could lose. That's why I appreciated seeing Jesus lose the game he was playing with his friends.
A theological disagreement might not seem like a very dramatic subject, but the show does a great job of building tension during the Rosh Hashanah dispute.
I was surprised by how the show depicted Jesus' escape from execution, but it worked. I like that it's not entirely clear whether the people are simply shocked or supernaturally frozen.
I like that the show lingered on the scene of Jesus standing at Joseph's tomb and the scene of his childhood with Joseph. It really allowed us to inhabit those moments emotionally and identify with what Jesus was feeling.
Instead of doing another episode in the original Christmas narrative, the show created a situational parallel between what Jesus was doing (going home for the holidays) and what many viewers were doing. It also highlighted key Christmas themes (more on that below). It was a clever way of having a Christmas episode, without retreading the same narrative material.
Key Themes in The Chosen Season 3 Episode 3
In addition to being a very emotional installment, Season 3 Episode 3 explored some pretty significant themes:
The Incarnation & Human Limitations of Jesus
As I noted above, even though Episode 3 did not depict the events of Christmas, it did engage with several Christmas themes. In particular, the episode was interested in exploring Jesus' limitations as an incarnate human. Throughout the episode, we are given reminders of Jesus' frailty and dependence:
We see Jesus as a crying toddler who can't even communicate in words
We see Jesus arrive home hungry and in need of rest
We see the limitations of Jesus' omniscience in how he needs to ask his mother what happened to a local dog. We also see how the dog provided him with a degree of comfort.
We see Jesus' longing to be with his friends Lazarus, Mary, and Martha
We hear that Jesus was not the best student and could not afford to go to school as a Rabbi
We see Jesus lose at a game because of his lack of hand-eye coordination
We see Jesus' emotional need to see the tomb of his adoptive father one last time
We see how Jesus as a child had to be taught how to read, how to hammer, and how to think (e.g. about what it means to be brokenhearted)
We see child Jesus is hesitant to use a hammer and we see his fear when Joseph pretends to be hurt
We see the emotional comfort Jesus takes in the heirloom passed on to him by Joseph
These moments are meant to paint picture of Jesus that is relatable for us as humans. Jesus may be perfectly sinless in character, but like us he had emotional, physical, and developmental needs during his life on earth. He didn't come from heaven in final form; he had to grow into maturity with the help of his parents and community. Even when he reached adulthood, he had limitations and weaknesses and wasn't necessarily perfect at everything. This is what it meant for the Son of God to become incarnate and take on a full human nature.
The Humility of Jesus
In addition to depicting how Jesus lowered himself ontologically and took on human limitations, Season 3 Episode 3 also shows us how Jesus lowered himself socially and took on a humble status while on earth. Jesus is described by others as humble on multiple occasions (e.g., by the Rabbi's wife) and we also see that humility in the way he behaves:
It would be easy for a miracle worker to get a big head. Although Jesus does not deny the works that he has done, he seems almost sheepish about talking about them and his role as the Messiah.
Even though Jesus' teaching has become quite popular, Lazarus has to push Jesus to speak at the synagogue. Jesus himself is deferential to Rabbi Benjamin and does not demand to have the "pulpit." However, when invited to speak, he doesn't shy away from the opportunity (c.f. Moses at the burning bush).
Jesus tries to get out of the ball game so he won't make his team lose, but when pushed, he is willing to play and he himself doesn't seem to mind losing.
Jesus praises Lazarus for his successful career and is able to laugh when Lazarus jokingly calls Jesus' backpack his house.
Jesus praises Rabbi Benjamin in front of the synagogue and invites people to call him out if he misses a word while reading.
These moments remind us that Jesus had a lowly character, even though he had descended from the heights of heaven. He could laugh at himself and wasn't obsessed with his own fame and ambition (in contrast to many preachers who proclaim him).
The Relationships of Jesus
Since the beginning, The Chosen has been keen on depicting how we can each have a unique and personal relationship with Jesus. Season 3 Episode 3 took this to another level by showing us some very unique types of relationships that Jesus had during his earthly life: his relationships to his mother, his father, his childhood friends, and even to his childhood teacher relationship, Rabbi Benjamin. The show helps us see how Jesus had authentic and meaningful connections to each of these people. This in turn reminds us that Jesus is not a love robot. Like the figures in this episode, we can each have a unique and meaningful relationship with our Lord and Savior.
The Divine Nature & Messianic Calling of Jesus
Jesus' divine status and elevated calling as the Messiah can at times seem to be at odds with his human limitations and humble character. That's why adaptations that focus on humanizing Jesus often err by making him doubt his divine nature or messianic calling (e.g., Jesus Christ Superstar). By contrast, Episode 3 of Season 3 does an amazing job at balancing Jesus' humble attitude and his confident conviction. There's no sign that Jesus doubts who he is or what he has been called to do. When he avoids proclaiming his identity openly, it's clearly a decision that's born out of his character and/or strategy - not out of doubt. When pressed to speak, he speaks boldly and doesn't hesitate to call out the spiritual issues in his home town. When pressed about his identity, he acknowledges that he is not only a rabbi and not only a prophet, but the one the prophets foretold and the pure embodiment of God's salvation and justice. Indeed, the attempt to execute Jesus testifies to how lofty his claims were perceived to be. To proclaim himself to be the Law of Moses would be blasphemy, if it wasn't true.
Spiritual Exodus & the Cost of Deliverance
The biblical theme of exodus and deliverance also plays an important role in Season 3 Episode 3 of The Chosen. While expounding Isaiah 61, Jesus explains that he himself is bringing about the deliverance promised in the passage. He goes on to differentiate the spiritual deliverance brought through his ministry from the deliverance from physical debts that was brought about by the Old Testament Jubilee and from the future deliverance God will eventually bring on his day of vengeance.
The bridle that Jesus inherits from Joseph is also tied into the theme of deliverance. We learn that Joseph's ancestor left Egypt during the Exodus with nothing but a donkey, which eventually died in the wilderness while still on the way to the Promised Land. Even so, Joseph's ancestor held onto the donkey's bridle and handed it down to his children as a reminder of God's past deliverance and a token of the promised future exodus. At the end of the episode, Jesus takes the bridle with him as he prepares to bring about spiritual deliverance through his death on the cross. Prediction: this bridle will be used to harness the donkey that Jesus rides into Jerusalem during Passover, just before he brings about spiritual deliverance through his suffering, death, and resurrection (e.g., Mark 11:1-10).
Spiritual Entitlement vs. Brokenhearted Faith
The Gospels suggest that many Jews rejected Jesus because they had developed a sense of entitlement on account of their ethnic heritage and religious works that ultimately prevented them from recognizing their spiritual poverty (e.g., Luke 3:7-9, Luke 15, John 8:31-33). By contrast, Jesus sought people with broken hearts and a sense of desperate faith, even if they were Gentiles (e.g., Matthew 5:2-5, Matthew 15:21-28, Luke 7:1-10, Luke 7:36-50). Season 3 Episode 3 explores the conflict between spiritual entitlement and brokenhearted faith during the climactic encounter in the synagogue. We see several signs that the people of Nazareth have developed as a sense of entitlement because of their ancestry (e.g. in their prayers and comments they make about Gentiles). This leads them to feel entitled to miracles and signs. Jesus rejects their demand for signs and instead calls them to become brokenhearted. As an example of what it means to be brokenhearted, he points to the Old Testament stories of Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-16) and Elisha and Naaman (2 Kings 5), in which God chooses to bless spiritually desperate Gentiles over his own people. This precipitates the rejection of Jesus by his own people. As a final nod in the direction of this theme, during the flashback to Jesus' childhood, we see Joseph help Jesus read the word "brokenhearted" and explain what it means - and then we see Jesus in the present reflecting on Joseph's words.
The Chosen Season 3 Episode 3 FAQ
What Scriptures were referenced in Episode 3? What parts of the Bible was Episode 3 based on?
The Chosen Season 3 Episode 3 was primarily based on Luke 4:16-30, John 4:43-45, and Isaiah 61 but it also contained significant references to Deuteronomy 13 (the passage in the Law of Moses that calls Israelites to execute false prophets) and Luke 2:52 (Jesus growing up).
What is the significance of the bridle that Jesus finds?
There is no reference in the Bible to Jesus receiving a bridle from Joseph. In The Chosen, during Season Episode 3, we see Jesus receive the bridle from Joseph in a flashback to his childhood. Joseph explains the bridle is a reminder of how God delivered their ancestors from Egypt (it was the only possession they brought with them) and a token of God's future deliverance. Jesus brings the bridle with him and so it's possible that he will use it on the donkey he rides into Jerusalem on the way to the cross.
What does Jesus mean when he says, "I am the Law of Moses"? Does Jesus say, "I am the Law of Moses" in the Bible?
Jesus does not say, "I am the Law of Moses" in the Bible. I explore the meaning of this controversial in another blog post.
What is the holiday that they celebrate in Season 3 Episode 3? What is Rosh Hashanah?
In Season 3 Episode 3 of The Chosen, Jesus travels home to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the new year in the Jewish civil calendar. Jews in Jesus' day differentiated between their religious calendar and civil calendar. For comparison, Christians today have a liturgical calendar (e.g. Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter) and a secular calendar (New Years, Mother's Day). Rosh Hashanah was seen as marking the creation of Adam. It was also tied to a season of repentance.
A New Resource for Studying The Chosen
If you're like me, watching The Chosen is about more than entertainment. Bible movies & shows like The Chosen provide us with fresh eyes to see the significance of the Bible and the beauty of the Gospel. That's why I'm excited to share with you a new resource that I've created to help you study biblical adaptations & reflect on how they apply to everyday life. Come and See is a devotional journal designed specifically for studying Bible movies and shows like The Chosen. It includes sections for you to take notes on each episode's plot, your favorite quotes, personal connections, questions, and, of course, Scripture references. Whether you're studying on your own or with your small group or ministry, Come and See is a perfect resource to help you dig deeper into The Chosen.
FYI: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Click here for my affiliation policy.
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!
Artist Interviews (The Bible Artist Podcast)
The Chosen Season 4
The Chosen Season 3
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***
Exploring The Chosen with Youth or Small Group [Discussion Guides]
Episode 1 Guide: Homecoming
Episode 2 Guide: Two by Two
Episode 3 Guide: Physician, Heal Thyself
Episode 4 Guide: Clean Part 1
Episode 5 Guide: Clean Part 2
Episode 6 Guide: Intensity in Tent City
Episode 7 Guide: Ears to Hear
Episode 8 Guide: The Feeding of the 5,000
Season 2 Reflection P1: What is The Chosen Season 2 about?
Season 2 Reflection P2: What was The Chosen Season 2 about? (Plots & Theme)
Episode 1 Guide: The Beloved Disciple
Episode 2 Guide: Philip, Nathanael, & Matthew
Episode 3 Guide: Life Among the Disciples of Jesus
Episode 4 Guide: Simon the Zealot & the Man at the Bethesda Pool
Episode 5 Guide: Mary's Demons & the Destiny of John the Baptist
Episode 6 Guide: Mercy and Not Sacrifice
Episode 7 Guide: Quintus Returns
Episode 8 Guide: Judas, Matthew, & the Sermon on the Mount
Episode 1 Guide: Mary Magdalene, Lilith, and the Redeemer
Episode 2 Guide: Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, and Shabbat
Episode 3 Guide: Depicting Jesus in Art, Film, and TV
Episode 4 Guide: When Jesus Met Simon (Peter)
Episode 5 Guide: Mary, Mother of Jesus
Episode 6 Guide: Jesus, Shmuel, & the Pharisees
Episode 7 Guide: Did Nicodemus Follow Jesus?
Episode 8 Guide: The Woman at the Well, Eden, & Zohara
The Chosen Controversies Series
How to Discuss The Chosen - and Why
Themes & Theology of The Chosen [Exclusive for BMC Members]
Episode 1: What do we do when we are scared?
Episode 2: What is Shabbat for?
Episode 3: Who is Jesus?
Episode 4: What kind of man are you?
Episode 7 P1: What does your heart tell you?
Episode 7 P2: What's wrong with reason?
Episode 8 P1: What is this God of yours called?
Beyond The Chosen
The Chosen: 9 Good Friday & Easter Episodes ***Season 3 Update***
Other Bible Adaptations
Recap & Review: His Only Son