Updated: Nov 23
In anticipation of The Chosen Season 3 premiere on November 18, the creators of The Chosen have publicly released two official trailers. Up until this point, I've offered my suggestions for what The Chosen Season 3 should be about, but I've avoided engaging much with the hints we've received about the new season. Now that we have some substantial material to work with, however, I'd like to engage in some analysis of the messages we're receiving about Season 3 of The Chosen.
What will The Chosen Season 3 be about?
There was a lot that I loved about Season 2 of The Chosen, but I also had a few criticisms. My most significant critique was that the season lacked a clear and unified overarching plot/conflict. There was a vague unifying thread to the season - the difficulty of bringing together the diverse followers of Jesus into a unified community able to support his mission - but that thread could have been developed in a more concrete and organic fashion. The crisis points for Season 2 felt like they came out thin air, instead of emerging naturally over time. As a result, Season 2 of The Chosen lacked internal momentum and focus.
Based on what we can see in the trailers, it seems like The Chosen Season 3 will have a more unified overarching plot than Season 2. Both trailers make the central conflict of Season 3 quite clear: the Pharisees and religious leaders will begin engaging in more active opposition to Jesus and his followers. In addition to this clear external conflict, the trailers hint at the primary internal conflict: we see Jesus commissioning of the 12 and warning them (and Judas in particular) of how they will need to bless those who persecute them and undergo difficult sacrifices in order to follow him. Along similar lines, we see several shots of disciples who are suffering and shots of John in prison (an imprisonment we know will end in his violent death).
But the trailers aren't all doom and gloom. We also get glimpses of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, and the joyful amazement of the disciples. Moreover, we hear a speech based on Jesus' famous invitation to rest:
At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:25-30, ESV)
The shape of The Chosen Season 3 seems like it will be defined by these two emphases - the disciples struggling with persecution/sacrifice and Jesus offering rest/fullness. In episode 1 or 2, we'll see Jesus send out the disciples. Over the course of the season, we'll see them face persecution and hardship at the hands of the Pharisees, who are trying to contain the Jesus movement by applying pressure to his followers and their families. I'm guessing John's execution will come near the end of the season and will serve as a crisis point. Around the same time, we'll see the disciples (and their families) experience significant loss as well. In the face of so much pain and suffering, the disciples will begin to get demoralized and will waver in their faith. The Pharisees' strategy of suppression will appear to be working. But just when it seems like the Jesus movement is reaching the end of their rope, Jesus will bring rest both literally through the feeding of the 5,000 and in a more spiritual sense. The Pharisees will realize that their efforts to contain the Jesus movement have failed. Instead of shrinking, Jesus' following has exploded and become even bolder. Going into Season 4, Jesus' enemies will realize they need to adopt a more aggressive strategy (perhaps this is when they will begin explicitly plotting to kill Jesus?).
Side Plots in The Chosen Season 3 Trailer
Of course, there will be more to The Chosen Season 3 than the disciples facing persecution and opposition. The new trailers hinted at several other important side plots that we'll see this season. From what I saw, here are a few that stuck out to me:
The Family of the Disciples: In several shots we see Simon Peter embracing his wife, Eden, and at one point we see Eden getting baptized. We also see the sons of Zebedee having a family meal. My guess is that we're getting this renewed focus on the family life of the disciples because the Pharisees are going to try to get at them through their family members. A focus on family members like Eden will also highlight the cost of being married/related to someone in ministry.
Gaius wavering: We see a couple shots that show Gaius (the Roman Centurion) acting aggressively. On the other hand, we see a shot of Gaius standing over a sick young boy, who is most likely his son or servant. My guess is that we'll see him begin the season in opposition to the Jesus movement. Then we'll see Jesus/his disciples blessing their persecutor - ultimately by healing his son/servant. By the end of the season, he'll be wrestling with what he's seen and wavering in his opposition to Jesus (I don't think he'll abandon Rome yet - I expect he'll be the Roman at the cross who says, "Surely this was the son of God.")
Atticus investigating: We get several shots of Atticus, which suggests that he'll be an important figure. In one shot, he appears to be giving a report about Jesus to a Roman ruler (Herod Antipas? Pilate?). In another shot, he finally confronts Simon the Zealot face to face. At this point, it's hard for me to judge what's going on in his plot. My guess is that ultimately he'll be responsible for bringing down more intense scrutiny from higher level Roman authorities. I also wouldn't be surprised if he's the POV character we follow to see the events that lead to John the Baptist's execution (the whole Herodias affair).
Events Confirmed by The Chosen Season 3 Trailer
For the past year, we've been getting hints about Season 3 and so some of the events we saw in the trailer (e.g. the feeding of the 5,000) have already been confirmed, but we also got some new information. Here's a list of the biblical stories that the trailer seemed to confirm or hint at:
Confirmed: feeding of the 5,000
Confirmed: John the Baptist in prison, struggling with doubt
Confirmed: Jesus officially selects the Apostles and sends them out
Did you notice any other events from the Gospels that were hinted at in the trailer? Or were there any other important themes/storylines that you think I missed? Let me know in the comments below or reach out to me through email or Twitter.
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 40 Days with Jesus series helps readers connect what they watch in The Chosen with the Gospel stories that they're based on and then engage in spiritual reflection.
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If you liked this post, I've done several posts on The Chosen and Bible adaptation that you might want to check out, including articles on how The Chosen adapts key biblical characters and discussion guides for each episode of The Chosen Season 1 and Season 2. You may also be interested in some of my other content on adaptation and youth ministry.
The Chosen Season 3
Adapting Biblical Characters Series
John the Baptist in The Chosen **Season 2**
Lilith, Demons, & Evil Spirits in The Chosen ***Season 2***
Simon the Zealot & Nathanael in The Chosen ***Season 2***
The Virgin Mary in The Chosen ***Season 2***
Judas in The Chosen ***Season 2***
James & John in The Chosen ***Season 2***
Mary Magdalene in The Chosen ***Season 2 Update***
Simon and Andrew in The Chosen ***Season 2 Update***
Exploring The Chosen with Youth or Small Group [Discussion Guides]
Episode 1 Guide: Homecoming
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