How do you make sense of an all-powerful and loving God who doesn’t heal you?
That’s one of the biggest questions in the world, one that we all have to wrestle with at some point or other in our lives.
And it’s a question that The Chosen attempts to address in this latest episode of the third season.
Did the writers and actors do a good job exploring this question?
We shall see…
Index of THE CHOSEN In-Depth Summaries & Reviews
“Come And See!” — One Writer Dives Deep Into the Sleeper Hit Show on the Life & Times of Jesus & His Disciples
WHAT HAPPENED EARLIER
In the last episode, Jesus finished his Sermon on the Mount and sent all his disciples home to Capernaum temporarily to rest and prepare for the next phase of their discipleship.
There were mixed feelings as the disciples from Capernaum went home to see their families, with the words of the Sermon on the Mount ringing in their ears, encouraging them to reconcile breached relationships and heal old hurts.
And, of course, we have the usual fun shenanigans with the NON-Capernaum-resident disciples crashing at the homes of those who live in Capernaum.
MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: Read this article AFTER you’ve seen the show to avoid spoilers. You can watch the show for free at https://watch.angelstudios.com/thechosen
The show opens with a shot of Capernaum, on the water. Then we pan over a tent city to see cohortes urbanae (Roman spy) Atticus and Matthew’s former bodyguard Gaius watching from above.
Atticus remarks that Quintus is not going to be pleased to find a bunch of random people have followed Jesus all the way to Capernaum. Then he tells Gaius they better go and break the news to Quintus.
Next, we cut to disciples Nathanael and Simon Z walking around the shanty town, concerned about the volume of people.
When the campers realize that Simon Z is a follower of Jesus, they want to know where Jesus is as Nathanael enjoys Simon Z’s discomfort.
As Simon Z and Nathanael leave, we see a man staring at Z furtively, while clutching a dagger…
…and, cue the fish song!
Now we see Matthew sitting with his parents, attempting an awkward conversation about what he’s been up to while following Jesus.
Matthew has come to apologize to his parents for his choice to become a tax collector, and the shame that came on his family because of it.
Alphaeus, in turn, apologizes for disowning Matthew, and as father and son forgive each other, Elisheva prompts Matthew to call her Ima (Mom) and Alphaeus, Abba (Dad) again.
Matthew is surprised his parents are so forgiving, but Alphaeus says that they also heard Jesus’ sermon and were touched by its truthfulness.
Then Matthew’s dad returns the key to the house that Matthew had given him.
“I will never live in that home again,” Matthew says.
“So what? Give it away. Tear it down. Burn it, if you want,” Alphaeus says, echoing what Gaius said to him back in Season 1, as Elisheva chuckles.
Matthew’s parents invite him to come live in their home with them again. And with that, the family is reconciled.
Gaius and Atticus arrive at a rather bad time —
Quintus is yelling at a servant who’s brought him polluted water. He screams and throws things, breaking his cup. Gaius and Atticus enter the room to see Quintus growling at the hapless servant:
After sending the servant away, the three Romans sit down to talk:
Atticus and Gaius tell Quintus that a population of pilgrims have popped up on the Western edge of the city.
At first, Quintus wants Gaius to make the people go away. But Atticus proposes taxing them instead. Gaius is leery about the idea, afraid the people won’t be happy to be taxed (ya think?).
Quintus dismisses the idea, telling Gaius to use whatever means to quell any malcontents…until Atticus warns him in a roundabout way not to upset the status quo too much. The Roman authorities want order, after all.
“Fine,” Quintus acquiesces unhappily. “Gaius. I want you to do your job without leaving marks.”
Meanwhile, at Salome and Zebedee’s house, James, John, and Thomas are sitting in the kitchen, snacking.
Zeb comes running in with a tiny jar of olive oil for Thomas to taste. Apparently, he’s been doing a little oil pressing on the side for funsies, and he wants experienced caterer Thomas to give his opinion.
As the family chatters about Zebedee’s new hobby, Thomas suddenly interrupts everyone, blurting out:
“I think I’m going to ask Ramah to marry me.”
The family is excited, but when they ask about his father, Thomas says his father passed away. And he has no older brother.
In other words, he doesn’t have anyone to speak on his behalf to Ramah’s father (which is the way they’re supposed to arrange marraiges in this culture).
But Ramah’s father is aware of his intentions, Thomas informs Zeb.
No worries, Zeb replies. After all, Samson chose his own wife.*
Not exactly a model Israelite, John says.
“David chose Abigail?” Thomas supplies.
Also not the best example, Big James points out.
“Have you talked to your rabbi about this?” Zeb asks.
Thomas says he will, the next time he sees him. “Jesus will make it work,” Thomas smiles.
At Simon and Eden’s
Next, we see Eden, working on a ball of dough.
Simon comes up behind her.
But before they’ve exchanged more than a few words, petulant voices come from the direction guest bedroom. It’s Simon Z and Nathanael, arguing over pillows.
“Boys!” Simon scolds. And after a pause, from inside the room comes: “Sorry!” “Sorry!”
Eden turns to Simon. “You trained them!” she says, impressed.
“Your cooking is a powerful incentive,” Simon replies. “If they want to eat, they will stay in their room, quietly.” He raises his voice at the last part, directing his words at the closed door of the guest room.
“Okay, we’re quiet now,” says a voice from inside.
“Sorry!” echoes the other voice.
“Won’t they get bored?” Eden says, concerned.
Nah, Simon replies. They have so much to study.
“And you don’t?” Eden says, raising an eyebrow.
No, of course I do, Simon says. But I think you can help me study.
Oh really? Eden says.
Yeah, c’mon, Simon replies, leading his wife away from the kitchen. I have much to learn.
Simon and the Spy
We cut to Gaius, walking through the new tent city with a Roman underling, Julius.
Julius tries to get one of the tent residents to follow a rule about not drinking wine outside in public, but Gaius says to let it go.
As they walk away, Julius points out to Gaius that with so many people arriving day after day, they’ll have to keep redrawing the city boundaries over and over.
Gaius seems a little lackluster. He says he has something else to do, and leaves Julius to deal with the people: “Give me a full report in the morning.”
Next, we see Simon Z drawing water from the well.
As he walks away, he senses a presence, drops the bucket, and climbs up to a nearby rooftop:
As he looks down on the people below from the roof, Simon Z hears a voice behind him.
“What do you want?” Simon Z demands.
“I’m just hunting,” Atticus says.
“Hunting what?” Simon Z asks.
Atticus says that he knew Simon Z was planning to assassinate the magistrate. And Simon Z tells Atticus that he knew Atticus was spying on him and Jesus in the desert.
“What is he, Simon?” Atticus asks. Referring, of course, to Jesus.
Atticus mentions that he knows Jesus threw away Simon Z’s sicarii dagger.
Which isn’t great for Simon Z, since his old buddies, the Zealots, have tracked him to Capernaum. And they’re probably not here to invite him over for s’mores.*
Atticus tells Simon Z that those Zealots had better follow him away from Capernaum, because Atticus isn’t interested in cleaning up his (Simon Z’s) mess.
“You were a Zealot, now you’re a traitor. And they won’t stop,” Atticus says, before throwing his cloak over one shoulder and taking his leave.
Back to the Other Simon
We have another moment with the famous couple, cozying in front of the hearth fire:
Eden admits that while Simon was gone, she had moments of anger and sadness.
Simon reminds her of what Jesus told her. “He sees you,” Simon echoes Jesus’ words to Eden.
Simon then asks Eden what she thinks about starting their own family, and she gives him a hug.
The Women Disciples
The next morning, Mary, Ramah, and Tamar are at Mary’s place, talking about moving into Matthew’s home.
Apparently, Matthew’s living with his family now, and has decided to donate his old house to Jesus’ ministry, which means the women will be moving in.
Tamar mentions that the group is running low on money, and Mary suggests that she sell some of her jewelry. But Tamar refuses, for sentimental reasons.
“We’ve each given up something to follow Jesus,” Ramah says. “But we’ve all gained so much.”
She starts talking about Thomas, who told her that Zebedee is making olive oil, and perhaps they could help, and turn it into a business.
“You talked to Thomas?” Tamar says.
Mary and Tamar start teasing Ramah about Thomas.
“Alright, let’s all stop dancing around it and call it what it is,” Mary says finally.
“Thank you!” Tamar exclaims.
They both confront Ramah about her feelings for Thomas.
“That’s not how it works with our people,” Ramah says. “Love comes from marriage.”
Mary adds that in the Jewish world, marriages are arranged by fathers. But when Mary starts to ask Tamar about her people’s traditions, Tamar demurs, saying she would rather not talk about where she is from.
(Editor’s note: Oh-ho! I sense another plot point coming on…We’ll probably have to wait a while for the reveal, though)
So they go back to the previous topic and ask Ramah how she would feel about Thomas’ proposal, which (Tamar heard) is coming soon.
Ramah replies that, if her father approved, she would indeed like to marry Thomas.
Jesus Calls a Meeting
We cut to a scene with Jesus and his disciples, gathered at Simon’s house:
Jesus begins with the subject of the growing posse of people hanging out outside Capernaum, and how Rome is getting nervous about it all.
“It would appear as if we were building an army,” Andrew says, obviously still a bit anxious.
“We’re not an army. Not yet,” Jesus replies.
Instead, these are people in need of rescue, “And we are going to rescue them.” Jesus says.
Simon Z smiles and sits up, tapping the table eagerly.
“Different kind of rescue, Z,” Jesus says.
“I have chosen you twelve as my apostles,” Jesus continues. (Pre-echoes of John 6:70)
“You’re sending us?” John is somewhat astounded.
“An apostle is the same as a messenger — ” Matthew helpfully begins to define the term, only to be cut off:
“I know what it means, Matthew,” John says.
Jesus then proceeds to lay out the plan:
He is going back to Nazareth for a time, and has decided to send the disciples out, two by two, to preach the gospel to the Jews in every direction.
(“The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” John the Baptist says this, by the way, in Matthew 3:2)
Along the way, by the way, Jesus says, they will heal the sick and cast out demons, too.
The disciples stare at him, agog.
“Uh…could you just repeat that one more time?” Matthew says.
Jesus does so, and Nathanael asks, “Was there a ceremony I missed?”
Jesus spreads out his hands. “This is it.”
Nathanael looks down at himself. “I don’t feel any different.”
“I don’t need you to feel anything to do great things.”
Jesus then adds that the disciples are not to take anything with them: No bag, no food, no clothes, no money.
“Even the wandering Cynic philosophers* carry an extra tunic,” Matthew points out.
Yes, they do, Jesus acknowledges. And I want to distinguish you from them.
The disciples are to practice giving freely, relying purely on God’s provision and the goodness of the people to whom they preach. And if anyone should reject them, they are to “shake the dust off their sandals” and leave, not wasting their time. (See Matthew 10:14)
“What if it gets bad?…Like it is with John?” Andrew asks.
Jesus nods somberly. “Listen carefully, all of you. Do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.” (See Matthew 10:28)
“So…you’re saying we could die?” John asks.
Jesus pauses, then replies that there will come a time when all of this will be more difficult, when the disciples will be constantly persecuted. Then, the disciples will know what it really means to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.
But for now, Jesus says, “This journey will not come to that.”
As the men go out, Jesus tells them, the women will stay in Capernaum, living in the house Matthew donated, ministering to the people in the tent city, and supporting the ministry financially. Zebedee will watch over them.
The men start arguing over the danger of the mission, until Simon tells everyone to calm down and ask their questions one by one.
Simon brings up the idea of picking one of the disciples to manage their resources. Philip nominates Matthew, who refuses to touch money again. Matthew in turn nominates Judas, and as there are no dissenters, Judas is it.
Next, Jesus assigns the partners and the directions in which they are to go.
These are the chosen (ha! pun!) pairings:
- Simon and Judas, north to Caesarea Philippi
- Andrew and Philip, east to [Didn’t quite catch the name of this place]
- Thaddeus and Nathanael, south to Perea
- John and Thomas, southwest to Joppa
- Big James and Little James, west to the plains of Sharon (Simon: “For real?” Jesus: “They can make it a thing. Humor disarms people” :’D)
- Matthew and Simon Z, down to Jericho, near Samaria
At that last one, the disciples freeze and look at each other. They know, although Simon Z does not yet, that Matthew was a tax collector.
“What?” Simon Z asks, catching the looks on the faces of the others.
Jesus addresses the elephant in the room, telling Simon Z of Matthew’s former profession.
“He’s a tax collector?” Z echoes, incredulous.
“He’s no more a tax collector than you are a Zealot,” Jesus says. “Listen to me. None of you are what you were. Remember that, all of you.”
You two will do great things because of your past, Jesus says. And that’s it. The disciples are given a day to take care of whatever they need to take care of, and Jesus dismisses them.
As the men leave, Simon goes up to Eden, sensing that she is upset. He offers to talk to Jesus, to see if he can shorten his trip, but she tells him not to.
Meanwhile, Thomas goes up to Jesus, wanting to ask his blessing for Ramah’s hand. Jesus nods. “Did you hear in what direction I’m sending you?”
Realization dawns on Thomas. “Kafni lives in the Southwest.”
Jesus chuckles. “Yes, he does.”
So while Thomas is completing his mission with John, he can make a pitch for himself, and maybe even help Ramah’s dad Kafni come to believe in Jesus, too.
Thomas gives Jesus a hug, then walks outside, grinning to himself. He runs into Ramah, who was talking outside with Mary.
Great timing, because Thomas was coming to find her anyway. He starts telling her that he’s been sent on a mission. But then —
“You’re going to ask my father for permission to…you know.” Ramah blurts out.
Thomas blinks awkwardly. “Have I been so obvious?” he asks.
Ramah nods, and laughs. “I can only play dumb for so long,” she says.
Thomas mentions that he will be going southwest to preach the gospel, and Ramah says she will go back home to Tel Dor / Joppa, too.
After all, her father is a bit difficult, and besides, he’s not a believer yet. And Ramah wants to make sure that Thomas’ trip is successful.
Little James’ Question
Outside Simon’s house, Little James catches up to Jesus:
“Master!” he calls out. Jesus turns to him.
“May I have a moment?”
Little James stumbles and pauses as he asks Jesus his most important question:
“You’re sending us out with the ability to heal the sick and lame…so you’re telling me that I have the ability to heal…? I just find that difficult to imagine, with my condition…which you haven’t healed.”
Little James, in case the audience is not aware (and I don’t blame them because I had no idea until the writers had Thomas point it out in Season 2, Episode 3), has a limp.
(In real life, the actor who portrays Little James, Jordan Walker Ross, actually does have cerebral palsy, which the writers decided to incorporate into the script in this way, as you shall soon see…)
“Do you want to be healed?” Jesus asks.
“Y-yes, of course, if that’s possible,” Little James says.
“I think you’ve seen enough to know that that’s possible,” Jesus says.
Little James pauses, processing this. Then: “Why haven’t you?”
“Because I trust you,” Jesus replies.
Jesus explains: While Jesus can heal Little James, as he’s healed many others, and that would be “a good story to tell.” But there are already many who can tell that story.
Little James, however, will have a unique story when he learns to still praise God in spite of his disability, and focus on things that matter more than the body. To demonstrate patience in suffering on Earth because he knows that he will spend eternity with no suffering.
“Not many can understand that,” Jesus says. “How many do you think the father and I trust with this? Not many.”
Little James begins to cry. “But the others are so much more!”
“More what?” Jesus asks gently.
“I don’t know…stronger? Better than this?”
Little James quotes the Psalmist: I know that I am ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ he says. But that doesn’t make it easier to deal with this burden. (See Psalm 139:14)
A burden? Jesus echoes. It’s easier to deal with your slow walking than Simon’s temper, trust me. The Father doesn’t care how he looks or how he walks.
“You are going to do more for me than most people ever dreamed.
“So many people need healing in order to believe in me…that doesn’t apply to you.
“And many are healed or not healed because the Father has a plan for them which…may be a mystery. We remember what Job said:
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away…
Little James joins Jesus as the two finish the verse:
Blessed be the name of the Lord. (See: Job 1:21)
Jesus tells Little James:
“When you find true strength because of your weakness, and when you do great things in spite of this, the impact will last for generations. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” James says through his tears. “Thank you, Master.”
“And James, remember. You will be healed,” Jesus says. “It’s only a matter of time.”
Matthew Bumps Into Gaius
It’s night time now, and Matthew is walking toward his old house.
As he reaches his door, Matthew spots a familiar face waiting for him.
“Uh…shalom,” Gaius says. When Matthew chuckles, he adds: “Did I say it wrong?”
“No, I didn’t expect to see you here,” Matthew explains.
“Yeah, well, I’m stationed here,” Gaius says.
Gaius asks if Matthew is moving back in, but Matthew says no. He will be using the house for the ministry instead.
For friends of yours? Gaius says.
I suppose yes, they’re friends, Matthew replies.
Well, if they’re your friends, I’ll make sure…Gaius catches himself. We patrol for safety and general peace, he concludes.
“Are you well?” Matthew asks. Gaius confirms, and turns the question to him.
A few of the disciples walk up behind Matthew, slowly surrounding him and Gaius. Matthew tells Gaius not to worry — they are just here for a meal, and they will be leaving Capernaum soon.
“I must go now, Gaius,” Matthew says.
“Trust your wits, Matthew,” Gaius says. “I will see you around.” Then he leaves.
Matthew turns to the other disciples. “Welcome to the home that I no longer live in,” he says.
But Simon takes control of the situation:
“May I say the hard part first?” Simon says to all assembled. “This might be the last time we’re all together for a while.”
“What’s the easy part?” John asks.
“Who said there was an easy part?” Simon replies.
Simon confides to the group that Eden is scared about the coming unknowns. He is, too, he confesses.
Are we ready? Thaddeus says.
Some of the men acknowledge that they are afraid as well, others (well, mainly Simon Z) are not.
Simon turns to Philip: “You’ve done this kind of thing before. You have any thoughts?”
Philip’s advice: “All I can say is, it’s scary when you upset powerful people, but it’s worth it.”
“This is what we signed up for,” John says. “We may not have known it at the time, but we go where he sends us.”
I’m sure he put us with our partners for a reason, Simon adds. Then he calls a huddle:
“Let’s gather ‘round. Come, stand next to your partner.”
As the men reshuffle themselves, Simon goes up to Simon Z:
“Will you be okay with a tax collector?” he asks.
Z sighs and looks away.
Simon presses him: “Can I trust you?”
At last, Z silently touches his head to Simon’s, then goes to stand by Matthew.
“You’ll be fine,” Simon tells Matthew.
The disciples make a circle, and put their arms around each others’ shoulders.
As Simon leads, the disciples start praying a Psalm of David together:
Oh Lord, how many are my foes. Many are rising against me.
But you, Or Lord, are a shield above me… (See Psalm 3)
As they recite the words, the camera slowly swivels up so we are looking down at the circle of praying apostles:
…And, end episode.
Okay, for background context, let’s take a look at a few lines and concepts from this episode:
Marriage: Samson Arranging His Own Marriage, plus David and Abigail
When Thomas tells Zebedee & Family that he plans to propose marriage to Ramah, the men bring up a few stories from the old testament, both of which are not the ideal stories of happy marriages.
In the first one (See Judges 14), Samson falls for a gentile woman, from the enemy Philistine people. His parents remonstrate with him, trying to get him to choose a wife from their own people instead.
Samson refuses and marries the woman he chooses. However, there is a snafu: During the wedding feast, Samson challenges the Philistine guests to a difficult riddle. If they win, he will give them thirty sets of clothes (very expensive stuff, at the time). And if he wins, they owe him thirty sets of clothes.
When the guests fail to answer the riddle, they threaten Samson’s bride to get the answer for them. And when she caves, and they give Samson the right answer, he gets angry, “strikes down” thirthy men (whether that means that he just beat them or he killed them, I don’t know), and steals their clothes to give to the guests.
Things go downhill from there:
- Samson leaves in a huff
- His bride’s father marries her off to another man, thinking that Samson doesn’t want her anymore
- Samson comes back to claim his wife and is furious when he finds she’s been given away
- Samson burns the Philistine’s farmland in revenge
- The Philistines burn down his ex-wife and her father for their part in this fiasco
- Samson attacks the Philistines for murdering his ex-wife and ex-father-in-law
Whew. What a crazy violent story. Not exactly the kind of thing you want to be reminded of when you’re thinking of getting married yourself 😉
As for the David and Abigail story (see 1 Samuel 25), it goes like this:
When David was running for his life from jealous murderous King Saul, he asked a guy named Nabal for some food for his men.
This was a reasonable ask, considering how important hospitality was in that time and place, and how David and his men had been helping Nabal’s herdsmen guard their sheep and so on.
But Nabal responded rudely to David’s request, and an angry David called his men to make war on Nabal. Luckily for Nabal and his men, Nabal’s wife Abigail went out to find David, packing tons of food for him and his men, thus fending off a potential bloody battle.
When Abigail returned and told Nabal what had happened, and what a near miss he’d had, Nabal died of fright.
And David came back and decided to take Abigail as his wife because he was impressed by her poise and wisdom…or something like that. (Although he already had a wife, but polygamy was pretty common back then).
Again, not the happiest “marriage story” in the world.
(The Bible’s full of lots of pretty gory / grim stories. It’s like Game of Thrones, apparently, only less graphic and detailed.)
Zealots were a political group that fought for their national and religious freedom under the Romans.
They weren’t afraid to use methods like murder and assassination to get their way, so you can probably imagine: Like modern-day gangs, Zealots wouldn’t have let former members go so easily.
That’s why Atticus tells Simon Z that members of his former Zealot order have followed him all the way to Capernaum. They did not take kindly to his change of loyalty…
Apostles, Disciples, and Followers. What’s the difference?
During the meeting scene with Jesus, Jesus calls the Twelve his “apostles.”
Whereas the word “disciples” refer to anyone who follows a leader / teacher / rabbi / or philosopher, the title “apostle” is typically a special term reserved only for The Twelve, and perhaps also Paul, who comes into the story much later on.
Of course, in today’s vocab, there are different religions that use the word in different ways. But in this context, just know that “apostle” refers to the ones Jesus personally sent out. In this case, The Twelve.
“Even the Traveling Cynic Philosophers carry bags”
Who were the cynics? They were adherents of a philosophy called, of course, Cynicism, which rejected conventional social values and defined their sense of virtue as “living in agreement with nature.”
The most famous Cynic was Diogenes, who took Cynicism to the extremes and gave away his fortune to live in poverty in Athens.
I was familiar with Jesus’ admonition to his disciples not to carry anything with them while they went on their first preaching journey. I thought this was just his way of helping the disciples learn to rely on God’s provision.
But the Chosen writers bring up another good point:
By NOT bringing anything, they could set themselves apart from other traveling-preacher-types, like the Cynic philosophers, who were propagating the worldview of thinkers like Diogenes, and apparently traveled around with a beggar’s bag.
(Much like modern-day Buddhist and Hindu monks in Asia?)
Judas assigned responsibility over the money
Before Judas infamously betrayed Jesus to death (Sorry…was that a spoiler?😉), he was in charge of the money bags.
And unfortunately, according to the Bible (John 12:6), Judas was dipping into the ministry funds even before he completely went “dark mode,” and gave up his rabbi to the enemy.
It’s interesting how the writers set this up in the show:
By first having the job offered to Matthew, who refuses on the grounds of wanting to avoid his old life and old temptations…and turns the opportunity to Judas, instead.
As a former real estate apprentice (based on Chosen lore, not Biblical record), Judas would be familiar with the management of money, so this makes sense. And it positions the character of Judas for a tragic fall coming up in the future…
Where the disciples are going
If you’re interested in getting a general sense of where Jesus is sending his disciples, here’s a lovely map, courtesy of Bible-history.com:
(Capernaum is on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee)
Simon to Z: “Will you be okay with a tax collector?”
The reason why the disciples were nervous about Jesus pairing up Matthew and Simon Z, and why Simon particularly singled Z out to make sure he’d be okay, is because the two’s former professions are about as opposite as opposite can be.
Matthew and Simon Z would have been natural enemies, without Jesus.
Simon Z, as a Zealot, was dedicated to the eradication of Rome and the Romans. So Matthew, as a tax collector, would have been worse (in Z’s eyes) than a Roman, because he was collaborating with the enemy to oppress his own people.
In other words, Matthew was a traitor.
In their past lives, Z would probably have preferred to murder Matthew rather than work with him.
But that is why having these two on the same team under Jesus is so interesting, and I’m sure that’s why the writers decided to put them together during the 2-by-2 mission to play with the contrasts between the two characters.
THOUGHTS ON STORYTELLING, WRITING, AND CRAFTSMANSHIP
Here we go with things I noticed about the way the Chosen writers adapted the Bible record to present their stories in television format:
Lots of Matthew references!
The entire “sending out of the disciples 2 by 2 comes from Matthew 10. I like how many of these stories come largely from the book of Matthew, especially the ones that feature Matthew.
It only makes sense that any events recorded in the book of Matthew must have taken place while the real Matthew was present, otherwise how could he have written about it?
(I mean, yeah, there is word of mouth, but then again, it’s more likely that Matthew wrote about things he personally witnessed. So I like the writers’ attention to detail, making sure that the events and lines quoted in the show that are from the book of Matthew, always include the character Matthew.)
Seriously. Why is Atticus always eating? :’D
Matthew and his parents’ reconciliation was too easy
I think this scene could have had more pathos if we saw even more of the “dark side” of the relational breach in earlier episodes:
- Maybe actually see Elisheva and Alphaeus being shamed in synagogue, and hear them exchange more ugly words with Matthew.
- Maybe see them run into him on accident in public and deliberately pretend not to see him.
Then when the reconciliation finally happens, it will be that much more satisfying.
Also, I would have liked to see them struggle more with the decision to forgive Matthew. Maybe a shot of them listening to Jesus’ sermon with a stunned look as he talks about forgiveness and “loving your enemy.”
And perhaps a moment of hesitation when Matthew finally knocks, a moment before making eye contact, as if not sure whether to close the door on him or not.
As it was, the whole thing felt too easy. It makes sense that Matthew would want to make amends, given how much time he’s spent with Jesus and how much he’s given up for him. Matthew is committed.
But his parents are not. Not yet. So why would they forgive him so quickly?
Granted, the parents have heard Jesus’ sermon, but if only serious family breaches could be reconciled this easily in real life (Spoiler: They don’t. Speaking from personal experience).
It was interesting to see the way the writers (who are three men) handled this conversation of the three women (I’m guessing they tried to get some input from their wives on this?)
I have to admit I’ve never experienced a whole lot of this flavor of “girl talk” (not much patience for it, I guess). And it seems a little odd to me that Ramah would straight up go to find Thomas and ask him about his going to her father before he’s even said anything…
Not to say that didn’t happen — it probably did. I just find the dialogue a little 21st century.
(Aside from the mention of fathers, that is, not many 21st century women care to get their fathers’ input / permission to marry their husbands, nowadays…maybe something we ought to bring back. Along with good fathers as a precondition, of course.)
It’s weird that they call him Z
The whole point is that Simon the Zealot has left his Zealot identity behind, so why do they still call him Z?
I understand the writers doing it as shorthand when referring to the character, but there’s no good reason for Jesus and the other disciples to do it within the plot.
Not even if they do it to distinguish him from Simon Peter (who hasn’t gotten his “Peter” moniker yet).
They could have used his birthplace (Ex: like how Judas is known as Judas of Kerioth / Iscariot) or maybe his father’s name or something (like the historical fiction story of Ben Hur, whose actual first name is Judah, which is not something you remember, when the book and movie are titled, Ben Hur).
(Ben means “son of” by the way. The name Benjamin, for example, really means “son of my right hand.”)
“I don’t need you to feel anything to do great things.”
When Jesus tells the disciples they will have the power to heal the sick and cast out demons, Nathanael says, “I don’t feel any different.”
And Jesus tells him he doesn’t have to feel a certain way to do great things.
This is not a Bible verse, but I think it’s a great life lesson.
It’s the same idea behind the Nike motto (which I’m not fond of, but story for another time). The point is that you don’t have to feel to act, and sometimes you can act into feeling.
But even if you never feel anything at all, you can still do good things.
Following feelings is a recipe for failure and chaos (which is why Disney’s “follow your heart” motto makes me want to bang my head against a wall). So you need to have something to hang your decisions on that is more durable and productive than just whatever you “feel in your heart.”
Continuing humor in dark moments
This episode sets up the disciples to get ready for some potentially dangerous, dark moments, it appears, what with all the talk about “losing life” and whatnot.
But even in the darkness, The Chosen manages to slip in some moments of humor to lighten the tension, and it’s genius:
My favorite two lines occur at the end of the episode, when the disciples are gathered outside Matthew’s house, and Simon starts his speech with “May I say the hard part first?” before talking about the scary-ness of their upcoming missions.
Then when John asks, “What’s the easy part?” Simon’s reply is hilarious: “Who said there was an easy part?”
Good answer, Simon. Good answer.
Then, a few moments later, when Simon calls a huddle, I love how he says: “Matthew, I know you hate it, but you too.” Not only is it a humorous line, but it shows Simon’s growing maturity:
Simon used to hate Matthew the most, but now he’s actively watching out for the guy (not just in this moment, but also earlier when he pulls Z aside to make sure they’re cool).
And he understands Matthew well enough to know (and care) that Matthew’s not fond of physical touch, but a good enough leader to have him join the circle with the others, anyway.
I love it 😉
Little James’ Big Question
This is a really significant theological moment in the show. It’s one of the — if not THE — biggest question humans have when it comes to God’s existence, power, and goodness.
Why does God allow certain people to hurt so much? Why does he not level the playing field a little more, let the “nice” people be healed of whatever ailments they have, at least? More importantly, why does God let ME (you, us, whatever) suffer when he could do something about it??
These are major questions for most people, and many a person’s faith has been blocked or wrecked by an unsatisfactory answer to this.
There are, of course, intellectual answers to these questions, but when you’re the one suffering, intellectual answers aren’t even close to enough.
So how well did the writers answer James’ question?
I can only speak for myself, but I thought they did a fairly solid job.
It’s hard for me to comment on this, because I know I have asked and continue to ask various forms of this question throughout my life, and more often than not, the answer does not feel satisfactory nor does it last very long, even if it’s true.
The Most Dangerous Question to Ask When Life Sucks
Asking this frequently-asked question could make everything worse
Every time I am in pain anew, I feel the question bubbling up. And yet I have a sense of trepidation in even thinking it, because I know that this all could be so much worse.
I’ve been spared, in many ways, from the truly unspeakable suffering that many fellow human beings have gone through.
So it is pretty daring, I think, of the writers to address this question (but somewhat necessary, given that the actor who plays little James does have Cerebral Palsy in real life), and given what they have, they did a fair job.
I know this scene, and their answer to the Problem of Suffering will resonate with some people, and not resonate with others, and it’s not the writers’ job to control every viewer’s response.
They did what they did, put their “five loaves and two fish” out there, so to speak, and what happens next, and how this scene hits with different people, is up to God.
Speaking of “Jobs,” I like how they have Jesus quote from the book of Job (rhymes with “robe”) in this scene, because if any book in the Bible deals with the mysteriousness of suffering, that would definitely be the one.
There may have been a better way to present and answer the Problem, but I personally don’t have a suggestion for how to do it better, so I will leave it at that.
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