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The Chosen Season 4 Episode 8: Recap, Review, & Analysis

Updated: Mar 12

Episode 8 of The Chosen Season 4 is the most satisfying conclusion to a season of The Chosen thus far. It draws together the storylines and themes of the preceding season while also building anticipation and suspense for what’s to come - all while adapting key biblical moments like the plot to kill Jesus (John 11:45-57), the anointing of Jesus’ feet (Matthew 26:6-13, John 12:1-8), the sheep and goats teaching (Matthew 25:31-46), the plot to kill Lazarus (John 12:9-11), and the retrieval of the donkey in preparation for the Palm Sunday triumphal entry (Matthew 21:1-7). Below, I’ll provide a detailed summary of what exactly happens in Season 4 Episode 8 and then go on to share my thoughts on the episode and its key themes.



Pontius Pilate and his wife, Claudia, in The Chosen Season 4
Pontius Pilate and his wife, Claudia, in The Chosen Season 4

What Happened in The Chosen Season 4 Episode 8

Episode 8 has a lot of storylines:


Davidic Flashback

Episode 8 begins with an Old Testament flashback to David entering into Jerusalem, greeted with joyful cheers of Hosanna - an anticipation of the welcome Jesus will receive upon his triumphal entry (John 12:13). David meets his second wife, Abigail, and one of their sons, Daniel (1 Chronicles 3:1) and with Daniel he selects a Lamb for Passover. We then see David and Abigail explain the Passover meal as commanded (Exodus 12:1-28, Exodus 13:3-16). This scene sets up an important bit of context, as David explains to Daniel that the Lamb for the Passover sacrifice must have its feet anointed six days before it is sacrificed. We also see that David himself has the bridle which will eventually be passed down to Jesus by Joseph.


Veronica & Jesse

After the titles, we see Veronica (the woman whose bleeding was healed in Season 3 Episode 5) and Jesse (Simon Z’s brother, the man heal by the pool of Bethesda in Season 2 Episode 4) standing outside the Temple, telling a crowd about Jesus’ miracles. A Sadducee tries to denounce Jesus as a magician and questions whether he will have the courage to show up in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. They push back,  pointing out that the Sadducee fears coming under the authority of the king, and the crowd eagerly asks for more news.


Near the end of the episode, we return to Veronica and Jesse outside of the Temple. The servant, whose donkey was taken for Jesus, announces that Jesus is coming. The crowd excitedly heads toward the eastern gates to receive him and Veronica leads them in singing, Hosanna to the Son of David.


Pilate, Atticus, Herod, Claudia, and Joanna

As Pilate looks down on the crowded streets of Jerusalem, he expresses bewilderment over why Jews from all over the Roman world would travel to such a crowded, uncomfortable city every year. Atticus points out that Pilate should pay closer attention not to the numbers but to the fervor - and warns Pilate that Emperor Tiberias may be testing him to see if he can handle the week without incident. Pilate flippantly asks if Atticus has heard about the ghost of Bethany (Lazarus) and is surprised when Atticus seems to entertain the possibility that the rumors are true, based on what he himself has seen. After Pilate discounts it all as superstitious madness, Atticus warns him that the truth isn’t what’s important - it’s what the Jews believe is true and are willing to rally around.


Herod, Herodias, Joanna, and Chuza arrive in the very busy streets of Jerusalem. As they enter their lodging, Joanna observes as Chuza receives a message for Herod from Caiaphas.


Later, Joanna joins Pilate, Claudia, Herod, Herodias, Chuza, and his mistress, Cassandra, for dinner. Pilate is curious what Herod thinks of Jesus. Initially, Herod dismisses him as no one of importance. And yet, bothered by the rumor that some are calling Jesus a king, Herod notes that Caiaphas claims that he may foment an insurrection on the scale of the Maccabees. This makes Pilate worried and so he suggests that they have Caiaphas kill Lazarus - to kill any rumors about his resurrection. When Claudia questions whether Jesus would just resurrect Lazarus again, Pilate laughs the thought off.


After the meal, Claudia finds Joanna outside. As they look down on the streets, Claudia expresses admiration at the belief that motivates the Jews to travel hundreds of miles to visit an overcrowded, uncomfortable city and wonders what it would be like to have such belief. She also expresses sympathy for Claudia, having observed Chuza’s brazen affair. Joanna explains she hasn’t shared a bed with Chuza for some time - which Claudia can relate to, not because of sexual issues but because her dreams and thrashing have disturbed Pilate’s sleep. Joanna wonders whether the men are taking Jesus seriously. Claudia explains that Pilate received this appointment due to his family’s influence, not his own skill, and has over-compensated. If he does so again, Tiberias will remove him, and so she hopes that the tension in the air does not forebode an insurrection by Jesus. Still, they both have a bad feeling about what lies ahead. Joanna feels like a prop in the men’s theater of power, but Claudia insists that they can be more if they believe as much as the Jews do.


As crowds surge and excitement grows over Jesus’ approach, Pilate and Claudia look on with concern. As the bier carrying Joanna and Chuza is caught in the throng, Chuza grumbles about the chaos, but Joanna is inspired. She bids Chuza farewell (effectively divorcing him) and goes out into the crowd. Finding a palm vendor, she buys a bunch of palms and distributes them in preparation for Jesus’ coming.


Mary of Bethany and Lazarus

Mary begins the episode at the stall of an Asian perfumer. After not being satisfied with several of the “top shelf” scents that the perfumer offers, she pulls out a big bag of money and asks for access to more exclusive perfumes. The perfumer reluctantly pulls out a flask of pure nard, used in the anointing of kings in China and India. To her surprise, Mary pulls out even more money and offers to pay a year’s worth of wages for the entire flask - a gift for the most important king the world has ever known.


As Jesus feasts with his disciples as well as Shmuel and Yussif, Mary arrives, tearful with joy. To the surprise of Martha and the disciples, Mary approaches Jesus and anoints his feet with the nard and wipes them with her hair. This elicits sharp rebuke from both Shmuel for being immodest and from Judas for being wasteful. To make matters worse, Mary addresses Jesus using the standard formula for praying to God: “Blessed are you, King of the Universe, for you make all things one.” Jesus recognizes that she is preparing his body for burial - a detail that only Lazarus seems to notice.


Later, as Jesus and his crew prepares to leave for Jerusalem, Lazarus feels torn between going and staying, but Jesus encourages him to stay. They look on as Jesus departs for Jerusalem.


Yussif, Shmuel, and the Sanhedrin

At a meeting of the Sanhedrin, Gederah speaks out against the escalating acts of “sorcery” and “deception” being performed by Jesus. Yussif speaks up, pointing out that his father saw Lazarus and is not prone to being deceived. When others insist that only Elijah could raise the dead, Shmuel expresses the possibility that Jesus could be Elijah and offers to go investigate the matter himself. When Gederah continues to express anxiety over what Pilate might do if he perceives a threat, the High Priest Caiaphas emerges from his throne and explains that he has received a prophecy that a man must die so that the nation will not perish. He interprets this as an indication that, after Herod Antipas arrives in Jerusalem, they must contrive to hand Jesus over to Rome. When Shammai is offended at the thought of working with Herod, Caiaphas insists that making use of Herod isn’t the same as endorsing him.


After the meeting, Shmuel expresses disappointment to Yussif over the lack of conscience and good will he’s found among the leaders of the Sanhedrin. They agree they must immediately go visit Jesus together to engage in open-minded inquiry, without an agenda (like Shmuel did in the past).


Jairus, Shmuel, and Yussif in The Chosen Season 4
Jairus, Shmuel, and Yussif in The Chosen Season 4

When they arrive in Bethany, Adnan introduces Shmuel and Yussif to Jesus and the disciples as they feast at Lazarus’ table. The disciples are anxious around Shmuel, but Jesus welcomes him. Shmuel is surprised that Jesus remembers him and congratulates him on his appointment to the Sanhedrin. He also discovers that Yussif warned the disciples about his efforts to find Jesus (back in Episode 7 of Season 2). 


Shmuel and Yussif warn Jesus about the conversations in the Sanhedrin and the negative attention that he’s bringing upon himself, even though they express openness to who Jesus may be. Judas tries to convince them to advocate for Jesus at the Sanhedrin so that together the Jews can establish a new Davidic Kingdom. But Jesus challenges Shmuel by questioning what will happen to him on the day when the Messiah judges the nations, separating the sheep and goats. Shmuel struggles to accept the thought that the Messiah would identify himself with the lowly - the poor, strangers, and outcasts - instead of focusing on honoring God through strict obedience to the laws of the Torah (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Jesus reminds him of what Micah says the Lord chiefly requires (Micah 6:8) and gives the new commandment (John 13:34-35). He declares that he himself is the fulfillment of the Temple, the sacrifices, and feasts. As Shmuel struggles to understand what this mean, Mary arrives and begins to anoint Jesus’ feet.


Yussif tries to keep Shmuel’s mind open, but Jesus’ willingness to allow Mary to let down her hair, touch his feet, and waste so much money - all while addressing Jesus as God - finally pushes Shmuel over the edge. He insists that he wanted to believe but Jesus ruined everything. Jesus says he’s sorry he couldn’t help Shmuel and allows him to leave.


On the way out, Shmuel encounters Judas, who he believes is the only disciple with sense. Judas insists that he believes in Jesus but is concerned that things are going wrong and need to change in order to unite the Jews against their oppressors. Shmuel agrees and asks Judas to find him in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Yussif and Adnan apologize to Lazarus and prepare to leave with Shmuel.


On their return to Jerusalem, Shmuel is given a palm to greet Jesus, but throws it away dismissively.


Gaius, Eden, Salome, Jairus, Shula, and Barnaby

As Eden, Salome, Jairus, Shula, and Barnaby prepare to leave for Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, Gaius meets them. Eden invites him to come along, but he insists that he must stay with his family and oversee the city, even though he wishes he could go. He sends words of shalom to Peter and Matthew and they depart for Jerusalem.


The group arrives in Bethany, even as James and John are “cheating” on their mom by enjoying Martha’s cinnamon cakes (which they quickly hide). As the disciples prepare to head toward Jerusalem, they join in the caravan.


Judas 

As the disciples sleep, Judas creeps out of bed and steals some money from the community purse into his own and fudges the books. As he does so, he notices Thomas leaving. Curious, he follows at a distance and watches from hiding as Thomas buries the sun dial that he got Ramah as a betrothal gift. 


Later, when Shmuel and Yussif arrive to meet with Jesus, Judas sees it as a divine opportunity to build an alliance with the religious establishment and urges Shmuel and Yussif to advocate for Jesus at the Sanhedrin. He envisions for them the possibility of a renewed David Kingdom capable of overthrowing Roman oppression and ushering in a glorious new golden age, in which Israel will be a light to the nations. 


Judas is shocked when, instead of helping him smooth things over with the Pharisees, Jesus intentionally prods Shmuel with his parable about the sheep and the goats. He’s even more outraged when Mary “wastes” 300 denarii worth of nard by anointing Jesus’ feet. He tries to convince Jesus that Shmuel is not the kind of man he should upset, but Jesus isn’t moved.


Outside the feast, Judas encounters Shmuel, who resonates with his disgust over the wasted nard and says Judas is the only disciple with sense. Judas remains confident that Jesus is indeed the Messiah but insists they just need to find the right way to unite people against their oppressors. Shmuel agrees and encourages Judas to find him in Jerusalem.


Matthew, Simon Z, and Atticus

As Jesus prepares to head to Jerusalem, he instructs Simon Z and Matthew to find an unridden donkey in a nearby village and explain that the Master has need of it. Atticus observes from afar and follows them as they carry out Jesus’ directions - searching for an unridden donkey - and eventually find one. The servant in charge of it is initially skeptical - until he realizes that they are followers of Jesus. They recall the prophecy that the Messiah will come riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9-10). They take the donkey and the servant races off to spread the news in Jerusalem - while Atticus races off to report to Pilate. Their mission complete, Matthew and Simon Z return to Jesus with the donkey and prepare it for him to ride upon.


Jesus, Mary, and the Disciples

After sending off Matthew and Simon Z, Jesus is found by his mother, Mary, who has his bag. He takes out the bridle (from Season 3 Episode 3) and explains that it will represent Joseph - a way for them all to be together on this long awaited day. When Mary expresses how hard it is, to have heard Jesus’ comment about being prepared for burial, Jesus concedes that he can’t shield her any longer. He wonders whether she should stay back but she insists that she will enter the city with him and takes his hand.


Once Matthew and Simon Z return with the donkey, he gives them the bridle to put on it and cloaks himself. As the rest of the disciples arrive, he explains to them all that the time has come. He knows they have many questions but for now he asks if they will come with him - to which Peter replies by affirming that Jesus alone has words of eternal life (John 6:68-69). Jesus is moved by Peter’s words and assures them that no matter what happens, he has loved them as his own and will love them to the end (John 13:1). Mounting his donkey, he sets out for Jerusalem.


Jesus and his mother, Mary, walk toward Jerusalem in Episode 8 of The Chosen Season 4
Jesus and his mother, Mary, walk toward Jerusalem in Episode 8 of The Chosen Season 4


Review of The Chosen Season 4 Episode 8

I was very impressed by Episode 8. There was a lot that I liked but few points I’d like to highlight:

  • I was thoroughly impressed by how the episode was able to juggle so many plots and character arcs without feeling disjointed or slow. The building anticipation for the triumphal entry was able to bring a sense of unity and momentum.

  • Up until this episode, I wasn’t sure where the show was going with Shmuel’s character. The tragic twist of this episode gives him a much needed sense of depth and complexity. It also highlights the fact that Jesus isn’t unconditionally welcoming - he welcomes everyone but only if they’re willing to repent and embrace his vision.

  • I also love how Judas’ building excitement and optimism got crushed so painfully. It was moving and felt very believable.

  • I found all the scenes involving Pilate, Herod, Joanna, and Claudia to be quite compelling. The show is doing an excellent job of crafting a complex portrait capable of explaining Pilate’s actions in the Gospels. The moment of solidarity between Claudia and Joanna was engaging. Also, bookending the season with appearances by Herod and Joanna and the story of Chuza’s infidelity was a very sharp move.

  • On a similar note, I’m glad they gave Gaius a final “goodbye.” 

  • Even though Thomas didn’t get much screen time this episode, I’m glad they also closed the loop on his arc by having him bury Ramah’s sundial.

  • Caiaphas’ brief portrayal was spot on. I’m very excited for more of his character in Season 5.

  • Again, great moments between Jesus and Mary. The bridle set up from Season 3 paid off as I expected, adding additional layers to the meaning and significance of the triumphal entry.

  • Breaking just before the Triumphal Entry was perfect. It preserves that moment as an opening for next season, while allowing this season to build anticipation and explore what the build up to such a moment would have felt like. The emotion of those final moments of the episode was so palpable.


Again, I have very few quibbles with the episode:

  • Not a problem with this specific episode, but I wish the show had done just a slight bit more this season to set up the scruples that ultimately turned Shmuel away from Jesus.

  • I’m torn about the decision to have Caiaphas’ words about sacrificing one man for the good of the nation to be a conscious prophecy. By contrast, John presents Caiaphas’ words as an ironic and unintentional prophecy (John 11:49-51). I do like how the show maintains a sense of irony by having Caiaphas misinterpret the actual meaning of his prophecy - and I suspect the writer went this route in order to be able to explicitly invoke the idea of that a High Priest could deliver prophecy (they can’t editorialize the way John does). I kind of like it but kind of miss the original sense of the scene.


Key Themes of The Chosen Season 4 Episode 8

Episode 8 contained several important themes:


Belief vs. Cynicism

Episode 8 gives us several examples of genuine belief/devotion:

  • The crowds in OT Jerusalem, joyously heralding King David’s triumphant return

  • David and Abigail instructing Daniel in the meaning of the Passover

  • Jesse and Veronica proclaiming the deeds of Jesus 

  • Crowds of Jews flocking to Jerusalem, despite the discomfort and long distance

  • Mary, handing over an exorbitant sum, in order to be able to perform an act of extreme devotion for Jesus

  • Yussif standing up for Jesus in the Sanhedrin despite the opposition

  • Eden, Jairus, etc. preparing to travel to Jerusalem for Passover

  • Joanna abandoning Chuza and taking to the streets to prepare the way for Jesus

  • The keeper of the donkey readily handing him over to Simon Z and Matthew and then racing to Jerusalem to report the news

  • The crowds eagerly awaiting Jesus in Jerusalem

  • The disciples and the rest of Jesus’ crew joining him on the walk toward Jerusalem

  • Jesus’ willingness to love his disciples to the end by heading to Jerusalem to face his death


Claudia recognizes that belief is a source of power. Those who really believe are willing to give up their own treasure and comfort in order to pursue a vision of what is right and good. This type of belief is infectious - whether it is passed on through public testimony or private family traditions - because it points to something greater, something capable of providing meaning, unity, and hope - and something that is grounded in truth.


But belief isn’t the only type of power. Episode 8 also gives us numerous examples of cynicism:

  • The Sadducees confronting Jesse and Veronica and denouncing Jesus because they feel threatened by Jesus’ authority

  • Atticus encouraging Pilate to focus not on what’s true but rather on how the Jews will respond based on what they consider true

  • The lack of interest in investigating Jesus in the Sanhedrin - and Caiaphas’ willingness to use Pilate and Herod and hand Jesus over to death - all to preserve his place in the political order

  • Judas’ focus not on Shmuel’s personal salvation but rather on winning him over in order to build a political alliance

  • Judas’ criticism of Mary for wasting money that could be given to the poor - even though he’s been stealing money from the common purse

  • The scheme devised by Pilate and Herod to kill Lazarus in order to dispel rumors about his resurrection


Those who are cynical have little regard for the truth of things - particularly if the truth could potentially threaten their power or status. Indeed, they actively scheme to hide the truth if doing so will serve their purposes. 


It’s not that the cynical are completely amoral. They may be motivated by a sense of the greater good (e.g. Caiaphas) or at least by an understandable concern for their own self-preservation (e.g. Pilate). The problem is that they view other people as a means to an end (“props in their theater of power”), not as ends in and of themselves. This is why they are willing to sacrifice others in order to achieve their purposes. 


Being cynical can get you places (e.g. to the Sanhedrin or political office), but such power is inherently fragile, since it’s based in self-assertion and not in shared values or truth. The crowds may fearfully submit to the violent authority of the cynical, but they will not love or adore them. As a result, the affection of the crowds can easily be stolen by those who offer a reason for belief. This leaves the cynical in a state of constant insecurity, suspicion, and anxiety - in spite of all their outward power and comfort. By contrast, those who believe have a sense of bold confidence, even when they lack external power or safety.


Judas and Nathanael in The Chosen Season 4
Judas and Nathanael in The Chosen Season 4

What God Actually Desires

Near the end of Episode 7, Mary and Martha ponder what one can give to the One who can raise the dead. Mary concludes that there’s nothing that he really needs - but that this is precisely the point. He gives to us out of his excess, and we are meant to give in return, not in order to meet his needs but simply to show our love and gratitude.


In Episode 8 Mary buys aromatic nard for Jesus - a gift that is in a sense “unnecessary.” Yes, in hindsight, we can see how Mary’s act of anointing Jesus’ feet has biblical significance, but this doesn’t seem to be what Mary has at the forefront of her mind when she gives her gift to Jesus. She is simply offering him a thing of extravagance and beauty. More importantly, she’s offering him her heart and her affection - which is exactly what Jesus desires most.


And yet Mary’s beautiful gift is despised by the calculating heart of Judas. From the beginning, Judas has been convinced that he can offer something that Jesus needs. He thinks the success of God’s Kingdom ultimately depends on his own efficiency, creativity, and financial acumen. He doesn’t realize that God acts out of his abundant excess and generosity. God allows us to contribute our gifts, not because he needs what we have to offer but rather because we will be blessed by the experience of giving. If Judas realized this, perhaps he would feel less entitled to take a “fee” for his services by stealing from the purse of the disciples.


Mary’s gift is also despised by the legalistic heart of Shmuel. Shmuel has always believed that the best way to please God is by obeying the rituals of the Mosaic Law and the Jewish traditions inspired by them. Even when Shmuel began to experience a change of heart earlier in Season 4, it was not because he suddenly developed a greater sense of compassion or love for others - rather it was because he had begun to recognize that many of his peers were committed more to their own power and status than to the Law itself. His focus on the importance of strict obedience never actually wavers. This is why he’s so offended by Mary’s gift - in his eyes, by violating inherited tradition (i.e. by letting down her hair), she is going against what God desires. To make matters worse, Mary offers a prayer to Jesus - an act that he can’t make sense of within the limitations of his theological system. To accept Mary’s act of devotion, Shmuel would have to admit that his traditions and system of theology might be wrong - something he simply cannot do.


Of course, Jesus’ response to Shmuel isn’t to minimize the importance of obedience. But Jesus challenges Shmuel to re-consider what it means to adhere to God’s priorities and values. God will ultimately judge the world - but not first and foremost on the basis of Mosaic rituals - much less on the basis of the Jewish traditions that grew out of them. Rather, what matters most in God’s judgment is whether we respond with compassion and mercy to the needs of our fellow image-bearers - particularly those who are poor and lowly. In doing so, we can become like Him - giving out of abundant generosity and love without any concern for what we will receive in return. And this is ultimately what God desires - for us to become like him.


Glory, Triumph, and Lowliness

In Episode 7, Judas expresses frustration over the fact that the Jesus movement is “stumbling around in sackcloth and ashes,” having conducted their third Shiva in less than a year. He believes that they should instead be experiencing glorious triumph over their enemies. In response, Nathanael points out that only Jesus knows what true glory looks like. Later, in Episode 8, Judas once again articulates his vision of the glory that the Jesus movement should be experiencing: one in which all the Jews unite under Jesus’ rule, overthrow the Roman Empire, and establish a golden age of prosperity. Notably absent from his vision are any mention of Jesus suffering under the elders and being handed over to die at the hands of the Romans - even though Jesus has clearly told his disciples that this is what lies ahead.


The OT prologue - in which David returns to Jerusalem, having triumphed over his enemies - appears to provide a precedent for Judas’ vision of Messianic glory. But Bible readers should recognize that the Davidic story is more complicated. David’s journey to the throne is not a story of continual triumph and victory. David spent many days as an outlaw, hunted by his own people, and came close to the edge of death on multiple occasions. More importantly, David’s response was not to fight back against Saul but to wait patiently and endure humiliating hardship, trusting God to exalt him to the throne in the proper time. This is much closer to what Jesus is doing - although Jesus must exercise even greater faith, since his journey will lead him over the edge into death itself - a fate from which God alone can exalt him. In doing so, he will show a greater extent of God’s glory than he could by simply triumphing over his enemies.


The Lazarus’ situation works in a similar way. When he heard that Lazarus was sick, Jesus could have healed him from a distance and demonstrated a degree of his glory. But he’s able to show an even greater degree of glory by allowing his friend to die and then raising up from the dead - a miracle that God alone could accomplish.


But there’s actually an even deeper way in which Jesus demonstrates the glory of God. Near the end of Episode 8, Jesus tells his followers that he has loved them in the world and will love them to the end. This line is lifted from John 13 - the story in which Jesus lays aside his outer trappings in order to humbly wash the feet of his disciples. In context, the line has multiple senses - Jesus intends to love his disciples to the end of his life but he intends to show them love unto the end (i.e. to the utmost/fullest extent). In John, this is the deepest sense in which Jesus reveals the glory of God - not by doing divine miracles but by showing divine sacrificial love. From John’s perspective, the moment in which Jesus is exalted and glorified as King is not his resurrection or ascension but rather his crucifixion (e.g. John 3:14, John 8:28, John 12:23-24, John 17:1), because that is the moment when his love is most fully on display. 


This is why Jesus responds to Judas’ vision of triumphant glory by telling the parable of the sheep and the goats. Judas’ vision of glory is about striving to become like the great and powerful kings of this world. By contrast, Jesus’ vision of glory is about choosing to become like the poor and the lowly - because it is in doing so, he can show the fullest extent of God’s love.


 

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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