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The Chosen Season 4 Episode 6: Recap, Review, & Analysis

Updated: May 31

Episode 6 of The Chosen Season 4 is a very unique episode. Most of the episode is spent with the disciples as the celebrate the eight days of the festival of Hanukkah - leading up to Jesus' famous "I am the Good Shepherd" speeches (John 10) on the final day. But hanging over all of these events is a sense of dread and impending doom, due to a rare opening flash-forward that cues us into the terrible end that events are moving toward. Below, I’ll detail what exactly happens in Season 4 Episode 6 and then go on to share my thoughts on the episode and its key themes.


[You can find my recap, review, and analysis of Episode 4 here and Episode 5 here]


The disciples gather around the injured Big James in The Chosen Season 4 Episode 6
The disciples gather around the injured Big James in The Chosen Season 4 Episode 6

What Happened in The Chosen Season 4 Episode 6

Episode 6 almost feels like a bottle episode. One storyline (with various character-driven sub-plots) dominates the bulk of the time, with only brief asides to the secondary story.


Jesus, Judas, John, Thomas, & the Disciples

Episode 6 begins with a flash-forward. The disciples, wet and ragged, burst into a peaceful inn dining room, carrying a severely injured Big James. As they question what the recent events all mean, Simon Z silences them. Someone is approaching and they fear it may be a pursuer.


From here, the episode jumps back several days, to the beginning of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of rededication. After the lighting of the first candle and prayer, the disciples begin to play-act the events commemorated by the celebration: the rise of Alexander the Great (or “Alexander the Worst” as the Jewish disciples say), his sudden death, the dividing of his empire into four kingdoms under his generals, and the Sabbath-day attack of King Antiochus Epiphanies on Jerusalem, culminating in the desecration of the Temple with pig’s blood and the Abomination of Desolation (c.f. Daniel 9:24-27). After this first round of acting, some of the disciples exchange gifts, including Matthew and John, who provide each other with writing supplies. Throughout this scene and the subsequent scenes, we frequently see Thomas, haunted by the memory of Ramah.


The festival continues the following evening and the disciples continue the story, play-acting: Antiochus Epiphanies’ persecution of the Jews, the rebellion led by Judah Macabee, the expulsion of the Greeks and the idol of Zeus from the Temple, and the rededication of the altar, in which the lamp miraculously continued to burn for eight days even though only a day’s worth of oil was available.


On the third night of the festival, the disciples praise God with the words of Psalm 116, Psalm 113, and Psalm 118, accompanied by music. After Andrew beats John in an arm wrestling match, Jesus announces to the group that on the final day of the festival, he will make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in order to teach in the temple. Thomas notes that the last time Jesus taught in public (i.e. just before Ramah’s death) was less than wonderful and hopes Jesus is prepared. 


The next morning, as the other disciples delight over gifts they have received, John ponders what they can get Thomas and they ultimately decide to get him new sandals. Matthew checks the purse to see if there is enough money. Surprised by how little he finds, he decides to check with Judas to see if there’s another purse.


Judas is not happy about Matthew’s request - insisting that they don’t have enough money and so they’ll need to barter their way up. Matthew is confused, because he’s already done the calculations in his head and he’s confident that they should have enough money, even after the recent expenditures. Judas insists that Matthew is wrong and complains about how slowly and inefficiently the group is moving. They owe it to the nation to do more. Unwilling to stir up conflict, Matthew goes to tell the others that they’ll need to barter.


At the market, while Andrew, James, and John attempt to barter up to a new pair of sandals, Peter distracts Thomas by asking for his help in selecting soap. When he asks how Thomas is feeling, Thomas notes that he should feel grateful but he actually feels horrible. The only time he doesn’t feel awful is when he has a task at hand. Peter shares about Eden’s miscarriage, only to learn that Thomas already heard about it from Ramah and made the connection to Peter’s encounter with Jesus on the water. Like Peter once did, Thomas questions why Jesus has helped others but didn’t help Ramah. Peter affirms Thomas’ right to question God - as long as he’s willing to accept the answers God provides. For Thomas, however, appeals to free will or God’s ways not being our ways fall flat.


On the fourth night, the disciples praise God with a rendition of Psalm 115. As Thomas receives his new sandals, Matthew eyes Judas suspiciously. A message arrives from across the Jordan - in Bethany. Jesus explains that Lazarus is sick, but assures them that the sickness is not that which leads to death. Miserable, he retires for the evening. Meanwhile, the women are invited to sing the Song of Miriam (Exodus 15).


Another evening passes. The next day, the disciples are threshing and winnowing wheat. Disgusted at this menial labor, Judas proposes an idea: they should appoint donation collectors in the villages that they visit and collect funds whenever they pass through. The other disciples seem content to thresh wheat and none of them seems particularly excited about Judas’ idea. Annoyed, Judas goes to eat alone - until John notices and comes to talk to him. John wonders if Judas is confusing his own ambition with the advancement of the kingdom, just like he and James did. When Judas pushes back that he’s simply using his creativity and trying to reduce the strain caused by uncertainty, John encourages him to talk to Jesus about it.


Judas finds Jesus out in a field observing a sheepfold and insists that he just wants to see Jesus’ kingdom come and remove obstacles in his way. After he describes his donation scheme, Jesus explains that he has a vision that’s bigger than anything Judas an dream and urges him to pay close attention to his upcoming sermon and the feelings that it evokes. Judas leaves frustrated.


On the seventh night of feasting, the disciples pray Psalm 118. The disciples dread the upcoming journey to Jerusalem.


The next day, they cross the Jordan (Judas paying the ferryman) and eventually arrive at the Temple in Jerusalem. As Jesus eyes a few sheep being kept for slaughter, he begins to give his famous Good Shepherd speeches (John 10) while some religious leaders watch. They don’t immediately recognize him but are soon offended at the implication of bringing Gentiles into the fold of God. Judas become distracted by the ridicule being hurled at Jesus and is unable to focus. The religious leaders, on the other hand, are beginning to realize that Jesus is portraying himself as God’s unique son.


Jesus finally decides it’s time to leave - but not before the religious leaders stop them and demand a definitive answer as to whether he considers himself to be the Messiah. Jesus insists that his work testifies to his identity - and then goes even farther and declares that he and the Father are one. This pushes the religious leaders over the edge - they pick up stones and begin pelting the disciples for the supposed blasphemy. When John is struck, the disciples are forced to flee, while Judas looks on, frustrated that Jesus doesn’t fight back.


As night falls, they flee Jerusalem and ford the river, unwilling to wait for a ferryman. As they return to the inn, we’re back at the start of the episode: James on the table, injured, the disciples wet and scared, Simon Z watching anxiously through the window. Their visitor is Zebedee, who is shocked at his son’s injury. Jesus is busy reading a letter, which he hands to Mary Magdalene, who reads the news to the group: Lazarus is dead.


This news shakes the disciples, who recall how Jesus said the sickness wouldn’t end in death. They’re further confused when Jesus claims Lazarus is merely sleeping and just needs to be awakened. When Jesus explains that Lazarus died so that they may believe, this does little to help - especially Judas, who doesn’t understand. Thomas, a bit fey, is okay with the idea of going into Judea to be with Lazarus, even if it means dying with him. Mary is the only one who senses Jesus’ distress and feels his pain - because she’s actually been listening to what he’s been saying. To make matters worse, Zebedee delivers the bad news about the plot to have Jesus executed.


Jesus is distressed in The Chosen Season 4 Episode 6
Jesus is distressed in The Chosen Season 4 Episode 6

Yussif, Jairus, & Zebedee

Sometime in the middle of the episode, we cut away from the story of the disciples to Yussif writing. When his father finds him, Yussif pleads for his father not to give up on him if things go bad with the Sanhedrin. His father assures Yussif that he has never doubted him - even when he was frustrated by his choice to serve in a backwater instead of choosing the path of least resistance.


Yussif’s letter soon reaches Jairus, who finds Zebedee and reveals the plot to have Jesus executed in order to advance their own agenda. Due to the edict, it is too risky for Jairus himself to send word to the disciples, so Zebedee agrees to go warn them himself. As cover, he packs a shipment of oil for the Temple in Jerusalem, with a letter of recommendation from Jairus. 


When he arrives, he’s worried by the attempted stoning, but slightly relieved to hear that it was spontaneous and not premeditated. He explains to the disciples that things are about to get much worse.


Review of The Chosen Season 4 Episode 6

Episode 6 was a very unique episode and there’s a lot that I liked about it:

  • I’ve drawn attention to how, in Seasons 1-3, the third episode is a bottle episode. I was surprised and a bit disappointed that the tradition appeared to have died in Season 4. But now I’m wondering if it actually has continued - albeit in an altered form. As I noted above, Episode 6 is very nearly a bottle episode. So here’s a theory: in the first half of the show, bottle episodes were all in the third episode. Now, having passed the half-way point, this will flip and we’ll get bottle episodes in the sixth episode (i.e. the third episode from the end) of each season. If I’m right, this is a very clever (and very biblical) touch of chiastic structure.

  • I’m usually not a big fan when shows/movies begin with a flash-forward to the most exciting moment. It can feel like a cheap way to drum up excitement. That said, I think it was the right choice in this specific episode, because it reframed the lighting of the eight candles as a kind of countdown to catastrophe, casting a sense of dread over the otherwise joyful proceedings.

  • In general, I like when The Chosen brings in Jewish festivals and uses them to teach viewers about biblical history. This seems particularly worthwhile with Hanukkah, since Protestants are less aware of its origins - the Book of Maccabees not being included in the Protestant canon. Although there’s a lot of complicated history involved in the story of Hanukkah, the episode did a great job of making it entertaining through the playful acting of the disciples.

  • I think there’s something really interesting going on regarding fate/God’s will and human agency/free will. I’ll share more thoughts in my analysis.

  • I’m glad that Thomas’ grief hasn’t been forgotten. A holiday is a very appropriate occasion to check back in on his mourning process.

  • After all the fighting in recent episodes, it’s good for the show to remind us how much the disciples love to be together. There was a really powerful sense of camaraderie among the disciples communicated throughout the episode. Having them all make music together was a nice way to establish this.

  • I really like Judas’ struggle in this episode - perhaps because I can relate to it as a creative person who sometimes feels out of place in church community. I really started feeling for him by the end of the episode.

  • The attempted stoning and the flight across the Jordan was frantic and well-paced. I

  • Jonathan Roumie is usually so kind and gentle. I was taken back when he laughed at the Pharisees and mocked how little they knew of the Law of Moses. It’s a dimension of Jesus’ portrayal in the Gospels that hasn’t come out much until this season, but Roumie captures it just as well as he does Jesus’ gentler moments.

  • The delivery of Thomas’ final line about going to die with Lazarus was spot on. It killed me.


I did have a few issues though:

  • Even more than Episode 5, I think Episode 6 suffered from the decision to show all three episodes in a single theatrical presentation. Like I said in my review of Episode 5, it’s hard to sit through so many episodes all at once. Episode 6 had much more tension driving it than Episode 5, but my attention was also far more spent. 

  • Again, I think the episode would have been served by a little more stringent editing. Even though I liked the camaraderie and music, by cutting a minute here and there, the show could have maintained a better pace.

  • The storyline about getting Thomas sandals felt like it could have been reduced (but not eliminated - the way this story touched on Judas was critical). In particular, it felt like the conversation between Peter and Thomas was rehashing material (what Peter learned from his loss) without adding too much. 

  • I’m not sure if we actually needed the non-bottle storyline. Couldn’t Zebedee have just shown up at the end (as a surprise) and explained that he’s received word of a plot? This storyline mostly involved characters telling each other information we already knew and felt like a boring distraction.

  • I hope James doesn’t just shrug off the injury. It felt like he recovered a little too quickly. Going forward, I’ll be disappointed if there aren’t actual lasting consequences to what he suffered.

  • Small continuity question: Thomas says Jesus hasn’t taught publicly since the death of Ramah, but don’t we see him giving a fairly public teaching during the montage in Episode 3?


Jonathan Roumie as Jesus in The Chosen Season 4
Jonathan Roumie as Jesus in The Chosen Season 4

Key Themes of The Chosen Season 4 Episode 6

Episode 6 developed several themes. Some I cover in my analysis of Episode 5, due to the overlap between the two episodes. But at least two are unique to Episode 6:


Knowing & Not Knowing Others

Relationships are at the center of Episode 6. A long festival like Hanukkah is a perfect occasion for this focus on relationships, since we viewers associate holidays with being together, familiarity, etc. Much of the episode is dedicated to showing us the disciples simply having fun and celebrating in community - rather than accomplishing ministry objectives. The episode shows us how well the disciples know each through a variety of concrete means: we see the disciples’ thoughtful gifts for one another, their considerate approach to caring for Thomas, and their appreciation for each other's unique skills and knowledge. John stands out in this regard. He chooses an excellent gift for Matthew and seems most aware of Thomas’ grief and helps put together a plan to get a considerate gift for him. He also perceives Judas’ frustration and has apt words based on his own experience. Peter’s conversation with Thomas is also focused on providing Thomas with space to be known and validated.


But there are also significant and notable areas of relational blindness among the disciples. Judas uses lies and anger to hide himself when Matthew starts to get an inkling of his financial misdeeds. Later, after his idea to set up collection centers is rebuffed, Judas goes off by himself and clearly feels alienated and misunderstood by the others - and even by Jesus. Instead of working out his ideas on his own, John encourages Judas to pursue a deeper relationship with Jesus by asking him about his ideas. Jesus encourages Judas to pay attention to his words (i.e. know him), but Judas is too caught up with his own thoughts and concerns to do so.


Judas isn’t the only one who feels like he isn’t properly known. Jesus clearly struggles throughout the episode because of the gap between him and the disciples. This struggle comes to a head when news of Lazarus’ sickness arrives and Jesus has to hide his grief from the disciples until the news of Lazarus’ death comes. Even then, Mary Magdalene is the only disciple who empathetically hurts inside for Jesus - because she’s been listening and knowing him, while the others have been somewhat ignorant.


It’s notable that the Pharisees and religious leaders that confront the disciples in the Temple don’t know/recognize Jesus right away. Even when they recognize him, they don’t understand who he really is until he reveals his deepest identity by declaring that he and the Father are one. The religious leaders think that Jesus deserves to be stoned on account of this - only for Jesus to rebuke them by declaring that they know little of the Law of Moses (which, keep in mind, is him, according to The Chosen). 


By contrast, Jesus declares that he is the Good Shepherd who knows his own and who is known by them. He has perfect relational knowledge of his sheep - which we see on display when he perceives the struggle hidden beneath Judas’ questions and ideas and points him to a potential answer. Yussif recognizes that when Jesus taught that if we ask, it will be given to us, his point was that God will not hide himself or deny relational knowledge to those who earnestly seek him. Jesus’ desire to know and be known by us reflects his perfect knowledge and relationship with the Father, captured in his declaration that he and the Father are one. 


The importance of personal knowledge is also emphasized as a means of safety and security. One potential problem with Judas’ plan to set up donation centers is that it would require trusting people that the disciples haven’t had a chance to get to know (Judas offers letters of recommendation as a potential solution). When Jairus brings Zebedee news of the plot against Jesus, he insists that they can’t entrust a message to someone they don’t know - Zebedee himself must bear it. When Simon Z sees someone approaching the house the disciples are in, he grows tense, until he recognizes who it is. In all these ways (and perhaps a few others that I’ve missed), we see that personal knowledge creates a sense of safety and trust - why a lack of it creates a sense of distrust and fear.


Divine Foreknowledge, Human Agency, and the Mystery of God’s Will

One cannot read the Gospels - especially the Gospel of John - without wrestling with the relationship between God’s foreknowledge, God’s will, and human agency/freedom. This is not a major theme in Episode 6, but it is implicit both in the shape of the episode itself and some of the questions that the characters raise.


The flash-forward at the beginning of the episode gives viewers a sense that the events they are about watch are moving toward a predetermined, inevitable conclusion. And yet the actual unfolding of those events is not mechanical or constrained. We see the choices made by various characters - and how some might have chosen differently. There is a sense both of destiny and choice/agency.


This dynamic is particularly notable with regard to Judas. The Gospel of John suggests on more than one occasion that Judas’ role as the betrayer was foreknown. Many readers have wondered whether this suggests Judas was lacking in free will/agency. But the same Gospel also gives the fullest account of Judas’ character and motives. I thought of the Gospel of John as I watched Judas’ interactions with Jesus throughout the episode. Jesus seems to perceive what’s going on in Judas - and even tries to warn him through his teaching. But viewers know how the story goes - it almost feels inevitable that Judas fails to pay attention to Jesus’ teaching. So was the fall of Judas a result of his free agency or God’s will? Sometimes distinctions like these are hard to draw.


Jesus’ Good Shepherd raises similar questions regarding the relationship between human agency and the divine will. Jesus emphasizes how he knows his sheep and they know him and will respond to his voice. So is responding to the voice of the Shepherd a result of human choice or God’s will? The show doesn’t provide a lot of additional explanatory comments like it often does in its depiction of Jesus’ teaching. We’re left to ponder the tension.


God’s will and human agency also come up as the disciples continue to process Ramah’s death (and Eden’s miscarriage). As Thomas grasps for answers, Peter points him to two realities: humans have free will and God has a will that is beyond our understanding or comprehension. Although most historic Christian traditions affirm that both play a meaningful role in shaping our world, there can be very heated disagreement over how to define and relate the divine will and the human will. Being an ecumenical project, The Chosen wisely avoids this debate and simply affirms that both matter - and this is part of why it’s difficult for us to make sense of the chaotic events we experience in our world. 


I suspect that the show intends for the wrestling within Jesus - who contains in his person both human agency and the divine will - to be almost emblematic of the mysterious tension between these two realities. I'll be honest though - I haven't figured out what exactly we're meant to take away form that. Perhaps I need to ponder and meditate on these things more - and see where the show goes from here.


Any other themes you'd like to point out? Or want to offer a response to my review or analysis? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

 

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10 comentarios


Bruce Murray
Bruce Murray
4 days ago

James, not John, was injured at the stoning. It was the other son of thunder, i.e., Zebedee.

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Fantastic review, thank you.

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Did Jesus and the Apostles suffer an attempted stoning like the one in episode 6? Where in the New Testament is it written? Thank you

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Contestando a

John 10:31 says: T"he Jews picked up stones again to stone him." It doesn't say they actually threw anything - that seems to have been done for dramatic effect

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Hi Kevin, does Jesus saying that Laz's sickness won't end in death imply that He was wrong, lying or didn't know?

Loving the blog man, God Bless🙏🏾

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Thanks Cosmic! In both The Chosen and in the original source material, the statement is an example of dramatic irony. To some the disciples, when Lazarus dies, it appears that Jesus is wrong/lying/ignorant. But as the story continues, we see that Lazarus actually doesn't end in death - he passes through death and ends in life, to the glory of God. While the Gospels sometimes present Jesus as being surprised, this doesn't seem to be one of those cases - he clearly plans this final sign to reveal his power to the world and provoke a backlash from the Sanhedrin.

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Your analysis of episodes 4-6 has been the deciding factor on whether or not I'll pay to see these at the theater. I'm going to wait until I receive my DVD's that I pre-ordered.

I previously only attended the theater for the first three, and took note of how much time I was in my seat. About 3 hours 20 minutes. It is indeed difficult to take in so many episodes at one viewing. That's why I was against The Chosen's decision to do such a theatrical release.


I will NOT read your analysis of 7-8 at all. Not until I have viewed them, because I have to keep some surprises!


Episodes of The Chosen do sometimes have pacing/editing issues.…


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Contestando a

Thanks Sherry! For what it's worth, I will say that I enjoyed the experience of episodes 7-8 in theater better than 4-6. I think 2 episodes is the ideal time-length, but I imagine they were trying to give better value and minimize the number of trips to the theater it would require. Still, for some people (like my friend Kyle who joined me in my podcast review), it sounds like it worked - and I don't fault them for experimenting with something new/different. I will also acknowledge (and this ties into my theatrical experience) that taking notes like I did has downsides from an experiential level

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