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The Chosen Season 4 Episode 3: Recap, Review, & Analysis

Updated: 4 days ago

It’s not often that you come across a twist in a show adapting a 2000-year-old story, but Episode 3 of The Chosen Season 4 proves to be an exception. Before you read any further, consider this your courtesy ***SPOILER WARNING*** - my recap, review, and analysis will go into great detail concerning the events the unfold in Episode 3, including THAT event. So, with no further ado, let’s dive into the third and final installment of The Chosen Season 4 premiere.


I also have a recap, review, and analysis of Episode 1 & Episode 2, as well as a deeper analysis of the controversy generated by the end of Episode 3.


John restrains his brother, Big James in The Chosen Season 4 Episode 3
John restrains his brother, Big James in The Chosen Season 4 Episode 3

What Happened in The Chosen Season 4 Episode 3


David & Bathsheba Prologue

Episode 3 contains the first Old Testament prologue of the season - a surprisingly thorough rendition of 2 Samuel 12:15-23. When we pick up the story, David’s first son with Bathsheba has already been struck with illness on account of David’s sin and David has been fasting and praying for days. His advisors are worried for his health and what will happen to them if they allow David to waste away. When Bathsheba’s cry alerts David to the death of the child, he washes and prepares to eat and worship before the Lord. He explains to Bathsheba that he fasted while there was still hope but now the child is dead and fasting has no more use. Bathsheba questions why the Lord has answered David’s prayers on so many other occasions but not in this moment - to which, David has no answer.


Quintus, Gaius, and Atticus

Quintus begins the episode in a rage. His tax numbers are down and he knows quite well that his position is on the line. He fumes at Gaius for not carrying out his order to make life difficult for the followers of Jesus and threatens to demote him if he fails to reduce the size of the Tent City by ten cubits a day.


Later, when the public debate between Jesus and the Pharisees begins drawing a crowd, Gaius urges Matthew to get Jesus out - while he himself stands by and keeps watch on the gathering. When Atticus sees what’s going on, he urges Gaius to send word to Quintus that the outcome of the riot will determine his future with Rome. Realizing that Gaius wants another riot to play out so that Quintus will get pinned for it, Atticus warns him that he’s playing a dangerous game and that one of the two, Quintus or Gaius, will not survive.


When Quintus finally does arrive, he orders Gaius to arrest Jesus. Gaius refuses to follow orders and so Quintus has him arrested. Then Quintus draws his sword and ventures into the crowd himself. In an attempt to apprehend some of the disciples, he accidentally stabs and kills Ramah. He seems shocked and dismayed at killing a woman, Atticus, who also seems disgusted, seems to arrest Quintus and takes him away.


Thomas and Ramah

Under the watchful eye of Andrew, Thomas meets with Ramah and surprises her with a legit betrothal gift: a sundial. He explains that it reminds him of how he always loses track of time whenever he’s talking to her and he wants to be with her to the end of time. Ramah wants to talk more about marriage based on advice from Eden. Thomas objects that he’s not like Simon, but she points out that there are dimensions of marriage that are true for everyone - especially those who are pursuing the special calling of following Jesus.


When the public debate between Jesus and the Pharisees begins spiraling out of control and the disciples start to flee, Thomas and Ramah are separated. As Quintus draws his blade and attempts to attack the disciples, he accidentally stabs Ramah. Thomas rushes to her side and in her finally words, she urges him to stay with Jesus. When Jesus arrives, Thomas urges him to heal her, but Jesus insists that it is not her time for healing.


Jesus, the Disciples, and the Pharisees

Jairus listens nervously as Rabbi Akiva, the head of the local synagogue, instructs his students to seek to entrap Jesus and expose him as a blasphemer, according to the edict from Jerusalem. He insists that Jesus is a necromancer and that they are in the best position to condemn him.


Mary Magdalene forces Jesus to eat in order to prepare him for his upcoming sermon. Jesus explains that the people are being lead poorly and need guidance. Matthew relays Gaius’ warning about Jesus preaching to Simon and Simon agrees that it’s a bad idea, but doesn’t think that they’ll be able to dissuade Jesus.


Outside of the synagogue, Shula and Barnaby warn Jesus about the edict, but he is undeterred. They introduce him a friend of theirs, Uzziah, who has been blind since birth. As Jesus prepares to heal him, a man on the street questions whose sin caused the blindness, the man’s sin or that of his parents. Jesus explains that the blindness is not due to sin but an occasion for him to glorify God (John 9). A local Pharisee watches intently as Jesus applies mud to the man’s eyes and washes it away in order to heal him. He’s furious that Jesus is healing on the Sabbath and alerts Rabbi Akiva. Meanwhile, a crowd begins to grow as pilgrims in the Tent City hear that Jesus is performing miracles. 


The man born blind is brought into the synagogue for questioning, along with his parents. His parents cagily avoid conflict. When the man refuses to condemn Jesus and insists that he has clearly done a miracle and must come from God, they put him out of the synagogue, in accord with the edict.


Jesus confronts Rabbi Akiva in The Chosen Season 4 Episode 3
Jesus confronts Rabbi Akiva in The Chosen Season 4 Episode 3

As the crowd grows, Jesus gives teaching that roughly follows Luke 11:27-53.. He refuses to continue performing signs for them, insisting that they are a faithless generation that will ultimately receive the sign of Jonah When Rabbi Akiva and his follower object, Jesus pushes back and begins calling out the Pharisees for being too focused on ritual purity and man-made tradition and not focused on what matters most: inner purity and the law of God. He accuses them of being overly concerned with receiving good seats and public honor. This pushes the conflict to a boiling point - as the crowd also grows uncontrollable. 


When Quintus arrives, he attempts to quell the conflict to little avail. The disciples have arranged an escape route and Jesus finally agrees to leave. But in the process of escaping, Ramah is separated from the other disciples. Before they can reach her, she is stabbed by Quintus, which sends everyone fleeing, except for Jesus, who comes to comfort Thomas - but not to heal her.


James, John, and Salome

Orders for the special anointing oil that Zebedee is producing have come pouring in, but James and John are dour. When questioned by Zebedee and Salome, they explain how Jesus gave Simon a new name and appears to have elevated him above the other disciples. Outraged, Salome points out that James and John have done far more for Jesus than Simon has and they deserve an equal share in the blessings and influence of the Kingdom. She recalls how Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7) and argues that they simply need to ask Jesus to give them higher office or status in the kingdom. Zebedee tries to push back and the brothers are hesitant. However, when Salome insists that if they don’t ask, she will, James and John agree to ask themselves [this is a clever nod to how Salome is the one who asks Jesus to elevate her sons in The Gospel of Matthew (20:20), while in the parallel story in the Gospel of Mark (10:35), the sons ask him directly].


Later, the two debate when they should ask Jesus and what exactly they should ask for. During the public debate between Jesus and the Pharisees, they decide to hold off on making their request to Jesus until later. 


When Quintus stabs Ramah, the vengeful streak in Big James is triggered and he draws his blade and seeks to strike back. John, fortunately, is able to restrain his brother.


Review of The Chosen Season 4 Episode 3

Episode 3 had a lot going for it:

  • Again, all of my comments from the Episode 1 review about production quality, minor characters, and pacing still apply.

  • The writers of The Chosen always do a great job with chaotic crowd events that involve Jesus teaching while a bunch of smaller plots unfold simultaneously (e.g. Season 1 Episode 6, Season 3 Episode 5, or Season 3 Episode 6). These events allow them to pack in a lot of biblical teaching without the moment feeling didactic, because there’s so much action happening. These moments also allow multiple storylines to collide in interesting and dramatic ways.

  • Many people expected the death of Ramah. The episode foreshadowed it pretty clearly (e.g. Ramah and Thomas discussing time and wanting to be together forever), so it didn’t come as a huge surprise, but that’s okay with me. Surprise is a cheap trick that only rarely feels worthwhile. What matters to me is that the moment worked - which I think it did - and that it will send the characters (especially Thomas, Quintus, and Gaius) in interesting directions, while also contributing to the overall themes of the season.

  • Jonathan Roumie definitely projected a different kind of energy in his condemnation of the Pharisees - a reflection of the shift that’s happening as he knowingly approaches the end and grows frustrated with the continued blindness of his people.

  • The OT prologue was well done. It also served as a clever bit of both foreshadowing and misdirection. Because the clip involved a man wanting his sick son healed, I thought it was an anti-parallel foreshadowing the healing of Gaius’ son. Instead, what it foreshadowed was simply the fact that sometimes God doesn’t heal and it’s hard to understand why.


I did have a couple issues with the episode:

  • In the Gospels, the person who asks about the cause of the man’s blindness is a disciple. Normally, I don’t complain about minor changes like this, but it felt significant to me - and I don’t see why that bit had to be given to a random dude. This moment could have been leveraged in interesting ways in light of Jesus’ conversation with Little James in Season 3 and the disciples’ confusion over why Jesus hasn’t healed him.

  • I wish that the show had done some work in earlier seasons to establish the status-seeking mindset of Salome (the mother of James and John). It kind of felt like it came mostly out of nowhere (yes, it was briefly hinted at in Episode 2) and was therefore hard to believe.

  • Last episode we were given the impression that Quintus’ tax numbers were still okay. As a viewer, my impression is that Episode 3 takes place almost immediately after Episode 2 and so I have a hard time believing that things deteriorated so quickly. Maybe they didn’t want to invest time in it, but I would have liked to have understood how things shifted so quickly.

  • I’m not sure what I think about Quintus’ reaction to stabbing Ramah. They’ve spent so much time building him up as a narcissistic sociopath that it kind of felt hard to believe. Still, as I’ve pointed out, we actually haven’t seen Quintus do anything really bad up to this point, so maybe he just puts on a harsh mask. It’s also possible that he has a sense of honor and feels shame over killing a woman - but I wish they’d found a way to establish that in advance, if so.


James, John, and Zebedee in The Chosen
James, John, and Zebedee in The Chosen

Analysis of The Chosen Season 4 Episode 3

Episode 3 grappled with several deep topics:


God Works in Mysterious Ways

The David/Bathsheba prologue invites us to consider why God answers some prayers for healing and salvation and doesn’t seem to answer others. When Bathsheba poses this question to David, he doesn’t have an answer for her. This is a very solid, biblical response. Too often, out of an understandable desire to defend God’s actions or develop a comprehensive and systematic theory, believers presume that they have the capacity to understand God’s purposes far more than they actually can.


This seems to be the mindset of the onlooker who questions whether Uzziah was born blind because of his own sins or the sins of his parents. It doesn’t seem like he has bad intentions. I get the impression that he’s just trying to understand the world better. But he thinks he understands the situation far better than he actually does - so much so that he can put the question to Jesus in terms of a simple binary.


Jesus refuses the binary choice and offers a third perspective: that God allowed Uzziah to be blind so that one day he could be healed and God could receive glory through Jesus. Of course, there’s no way the onlooker could have foreseen this surprising third option, but that’s kind of the point. God is far above our understanding and he often acts in ways that are mysterious and surprising. That’s why we need to take care to not put God in a box or impose limitations on his actions that he hasn’t explicitly taken upon himself.


If that last sentence sounds familiar to you, it’s how Nicodemus describes the closed-minded outlook of many Pharisees back in Season 1. And we see Pharisees continue to display this same outlook in Episode 3 of Season 4. Because Jesus acts (e.g. healing on Shabbat) and teaches (e.g. condemning the pursuit of ritual purity over the pursuit of a pure heart) in a manner that doesn’t align with his own understanding of God, he assumes that Jesus must be a false prophet or necromancer. He’s blind to other possibilities and ways of Jesus and the work of God. Uzziah, on the other hand, has an open mind and this allows him to see and respond with openness when God acts in a strange and mysterious way.


The death of Ramah - and Jesus’ decision to not heal her - have generated a lot of debate. Would Jesus refuse to provide a lifesaving miracle to one of his own followers? This isn’t the first moment Jesus has withheld healing in The Chosen. Back in Season 3 Jesus explains to Little James he hasn’t been healed so that he can show people that Jesus is worth following even apart from the gift of healing. We haven’t gotten as much explanation from Jesus in this specific moment - only that it’s not yet Ramah’s time. That seems to mean that Jesus sensed that in God’s mystery plan, the time for Ramah to be healed will not come until the resurrection - or perhaps the cross (see Matthew 27:51-53).


This explanation may not come across as satisfying for viewers - but I think that’s kind of the point. When God/Jesus works in mysterious ways and doesn’t respond the way we expect, it’s almost always very frustrating from a human perspective. We want a God who responds predictably. But the God of the Bible - and of The Chosen - and of real life - is not a tame lion. He is sovereign and transcendent. That doesn’t mean he is capricious and completely unpredictable - he does give us promises that we can trust in. Still, part of maturing in faith is learning to process through the questions and frustrations that arise when God’s plan doesn’t align with what we intended.


Not Peace, but a Sword

In Episode 2, Jesus offers some hard words to the disciples, based on a passage from the Gospel of Matthew:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword… And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:34, 38-39, ESV)

These words seem even more thematically apt for Episode 3. More than ever, we see how following Jesus can lead to conflict and even, quite literally, a sword. Jesus is not the docile hippie that he’s often made out to be by modern relativists. He’s not the aggressive that he’s often made out to be by modern culture warriors either. But he isn’t afraid of being divisive - even when it leads to conflict.


Episode 3 brings the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees to new heights. After being informed about the edict against him, Jesus could lie low for a bit or even skip town in order to deescalate the conflict. That’s the advice that Gaius offers to Matthew. Even Simon Peter seems uneasy and expresses anxiety about Jesus’ decision to teach publicly when tensions are so high. Far from deescalating the situation though, Jesus goes and pokes the bear by choosing to heal a man in front of a synagogue, on a Sabbath, with a Pharisee watching. And when the Pharisees come out and confront him before a growing crowd, Jesus doesn’t back down or pull any punches; he launches into one of the most outright and harsh attacks on the Pharisees that we’ve seen so far. Gentle as he can sometimes be, Jesus is willing to be provocative when necessary - particularly when the conflict is with religious leaders.


This debate heightens not only the conflict with the Pharisees but also the conflict with Rome. It wouldn’t take supernatural perception for Jesus to recognize that drawing a large crowd and engaging in a heated debate in public would surely draw the attention and ire of Rome. Although Jesus’ words are directed at the leadership of the Pharisees, there is a sense in which his actions are also challenging the order and governance of Roman leaders. While the victim of Quintus’ violence comes as a surprise, it’s not particularly surprising that violence erupted. It might be too much to say that Jesus is provoking conflict with Rome, but he certainly doesn’t allow fear of conflict to prevent him from declaring the truth that God has placed on his heart.


The Dangers of Power

The OT prologue to Episode 3 is primarily an invitation to contemplate the mysterious will of God, but, if that was its only purpose, a scene from the Book of Job would have been more appropriate. The death of David’s child has been included because it hints at another important theme in the episode: the dangerous temptations that come upon those who have or seek power. Bathsheba’s child is not the victim of a random illness. The baby’s death is meant to punish David for abusing his royal power by taking Bathsheba from her lawful husband and then handing him over to a violent death. David, once a victim of an abusive and power-hungry king, has forgotten that his power is a gift from God and must be placed in a position where he is utterly powerless so that he can repent and reorient his view of power.


From this sobering opening sequence, we move to Quintus on a tear, harassing beggars, shopkeepers, and even his own soldiers. We soon learn that his tax revenue - the one advantage that’s been keeping him in the good graces of Rome - has finally begun to dry up as a result of the Tent City pilgrims. Quintus’ situation illustrates how earthly power is inherently insecure - and how leaders often respond to that insecurity by clutching even more tightly onto their power through violence and intimidation. Gaius is faced with the same temptation when Quintus threatens to strip him of his rank (or worse) if he doesn’t forcibly reduce the size of the Tent City. He must make a choice: will he, like Quintus, clutch onto his power by violently abusing the pilgrims and the followers of Jesus, or will he refuse to do so, even if it means letting go of his own power and authority? 


All of this sets up the conflict in the final sequence of the episode. The disturbance caused by Jesus’ debate with the Pharisees once again illustrates the unstable nature of Quintus’ power and control. And, again, we see Quintus respond by grasping for power through violence and intimidation. Gaius, on the other hand, refuses to grasp for power. Instead of trying to gain control over the situation through violence, he stands by idly. Even when Quintus orders him to arrest Jesus, he refuses to do so, knowing that it will mean sacrificing his own power, position, and even freedom. But the episode delivers a surprising reversal. Quintus’ violent attempt to gain control ultimately leads to his arrest by Atticus for the death of Ramah. On the other hand, Gaius achieves his goal - the ousting of his maniacal superior. Thus, we see that those grasp at and abuse power often end up losing it, while those who are willing to forsake their power often end up receiving even more - a very biblical paradox.


The danger of power isn’t confined to those outside of the church. We see Big James, John, and their mother, Salome, struggling with an unhealthy desire for power and influence. Within the church, this inordinate desire n is often disguised in holy language and other pretexts, many of which we see in the conversation in the household of Zebedee: justifications based on comparative merit, conflating personal ambition with advancing God’s purposes, etc. Episode 3 doesn’t show us the final outcome of this inordinate desire for power, but we do see a hint of how the desire has corrupted the heart of Big James. Out of all the disciples, Big James is the only one who attempts to respond to Quintus with violent retribution. This moment suggests that James’ heart has become infected with a Gentile-like view of power that is at odds with the teaching of Jesus. As Season 4 continues, we will almost certainly see this thread explored in greater depth.


 

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 1-4, 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 3


Adapting Biblical Characters Series


Artist Interviews (The Bible Artist Podcast)


Exploring The Chosen with Youth or Small Group [Discussion Guides]

Season 4

Season 3

Season 2

Season 1

Specials


The Chosen Controversies Series


How to Discuss The Chosen - and Why


Themes & Theology of The Chosen [Exclusive for BMC Members]

Season 4


Season 1

Specials


Mailbag Q&R


The Chosen Thematic Viewing Guides


Beyond The Chosen


Other Bible Adaptations

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