In the first episode of The Chosen, we are introduced to several main characters: Matthew, Nicodemus, Simon and Andrew, and Mary. Fear is evident in all of their lives. Jesus encounters Mary first, healing and changing her into a different person than what she was. He uses Isaiah’s words, “I have called you by name. You are mine.” Jesus calls each of us by name and claims us as his own. How does belonging to Jesus change the way you react to fearful situations?
Reflection Questions: Mary’s father decided Isaiah 43:1 to her when she was scared. What passage do you turn to in fearful times? Are you surprised that several women were disciples of Jesus equal to the men? How is your encounter with Jesus changing you into a different person? Which of the four main characters do you identify with the most and why?
Shalom means peace and wholeness which is exactly what Mary experienced after meeting Jesus. She tells Nicodemus that while she doesn’t know the name of the man who healed her, she will know him the rest of her life. She then goes home to host her first Shabbat dinner when a surprise guest shows up. Shabbat is the beginning of Sabbath on Friday at sundown when the Jewish people remember who and whose they are. The Sabbath brings them closer to God with worship, rest, and renewal. What brings you closer to God?
Reflection Questions: How has Jesus given you shalom, peace and wholeness, in your life? What religious rituals are part of your family tradition, such as meal or bed time prayers, scripture reading, devotions, etc.? What might be similar to the Shabbat ritual in the Christian tradition that reminds us who and whose we are? How do you observe the Sabbath?
Most of this episode is about Simon and his desperation regarding his overwhelming debt. His wife asks him, “Where is your faith?” Simon had allowed his faith to take a backseat to his problems. He relied only on himself to fix his problems at all costs. Even when his brother Andrew told him about the Messiah, Simon only scoffed at the news. It took a miracle to get Simon’s attention. What does Jesus have to do to get your attention?
Reflection Questions: In what ways do you identify with Simon, trying to fix all of life’s problems yourself? When have been times you have allowed the world’s problems to inhibit your faith? What does Jesus have to do to get your attention?
The Wedding Gift
Jesus and his 7 disciples, six male and one female, travel with him to a wedding in Cana where they meet his mother. Though not in scripture, Thomas is the coordinator of the wedding along with a daughter of a vineyard owner. When the wine runs out, Jesus’ mother asks for her son’s help. Thomas is one of the few that sees (but doesn’t understand) the miracle that takes place. Jesus tells Thomas, “Join me and I will show you a new way of counting and measuring.” How has this episode given you a new perspective of this miracle?
Reflection Questions: How would you describe the way Thomas is depicted in this episode? Jesus reassures Thomas that while it’s good to ask questions, we won’t always understand, or even get, the answers. How do you deal with unanswered questions? Have you ever witnessed something you couldn’t logically explain? Why do you think Jesus performed this miracle even though he said his time had not yet come?
If You Are Willing…
Both the leper and the friend of a paralytic plead with Jesus to heal, if he is willing. Their strength of faith is evident. In both instances Jesus is willing. In the first instance he tells the leper not to say anything to anyone about his healing. Why? The second time he heals in front of a crowd. Do you believe Jesus still heals today? What is the role of faith in healing? Is there ever at time Jesus is not willing to heal?
Reflection Questions: Leprosy robbed its victim of dignity, community, and love. Are there any similar situations in our society today that would do the same? Have you ever cared about someone so much that you went to great lengths to help them? Why were the Pharisees so upset at Jesus’ healing? Who can you bring into Jesus’ presence by praying for them?
Get Used to Different
Jesus speaks to Nicodemus about being born again, wind, Spirit, serpents, and other spiritual mysteries. He refers to a kingdom not of this world and saving not from Rome but from sin. This Jesus was different than any other rabbi Nicodemus had met. But as Jesus would later tell Peter, “Get used to different.” Matthew left everything to follow Jesus: money, a comfortable life, a steady job, protection of the Romans. Nicodemus also had a lot to lose if he followed Jesus: an honorable reputation, family, wealth, success. In the series, he too is invited by Jesus to follow him, but he is unable.
Reflection Questions: Describe the difference between Nicodemus’ and Matthew’s response to Jesus invitation to follow him. When have you been more like Nicodemus? How have you been like Matthew? What have you left to follow Jesus? How would you tell someone what it means to be born again?
Let the Little Children Come to Me
Before Jesus begins his formal ministry, The Chosen series depicts Jesus living in the woods where a group of children find him. These “first students” of Jesus ask questions about who he is and what his work is. Jesus welcomes them, teaches them, and provides a foreshadowing of his future ministry.
Reflection Questions: What would it take for you to trust Jesus the absolute faith of a child? Discuss what it means to be child-like in our response to Jesus, but not childish. What question that the children ask resonate with you the most? What question would you like to ask Jesus? What would you imagine his response would be?
In Spirit and Truth
Jesus goes out of his way to make sure he is at a specific well at a specific time to meet a specific woman. He chose her to reveal himself publicly for the first time. Why? They have a lengthy discussion about worship where he says that worship is not about place but about the heart. Worship is about spirit and truth, not about logistics of time, place, and style. How might his teaching still resonate with us today? But only when he specifically tells her about her past does she come to believe. What is it that leads us to believe?
Reflection Question: What was the significance of Jesus revealing his identity for the first time to a Samaritan woman? Why do you think he chose her? In what ways does their conversation about worship influence your thoughts about worship today? Have you ever been as excited as that woman to tell others about Jesus? If Jesus told you “everything that you have ever done,” what would he say to you?