How many Christmas movies have you watched this season? In my family, Home Alone, Elf and The Santa Clause are yearly traditions. I also enjoy discovering new Christmas movies. I’m always open to adding to our family classics.
This year I’ve become aware of a new Christmas movie. I haven’t seen it, so this is not an endorsement, but it is on my list to watch. It’s called Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers.
I’m intrigued because it’s part of The Chosen series, a crowdfunded multiseason show about Jesus. You can pay to watch it on Amazon Prime or watch it for free on their website or app.
I don’t usually go out of my way to find Jesus movies or shows. There is something about working in ministry that already consumes so much of one’s life, and in my spare time I generally look for entertainment that makes me laugh or just gets me outside. But this recommendation came from my Dad (shout-out to Steve!) — and, while we have plenty of differing opinions, I give him credit for this one because I found The Chosen series to be a refreshing and entertaining take on Jesus and his disciples.
I’m not saying it is the most historically accurate depiction. There were a number of times when I thought, “Hmm, I don’t think that is what religious or culturally Jewish people would say.” In other places it seemed the creators were working from an atonement theology that didn’t fit with mine.
Despite its flaws, The Chosen kept me interested in seeing how it portrayed the disciples — and, of course, Jesus. Nicodemus (the Pharisee who talks with Jesus in John 3) is one character I’ve continued to think about. The filmmakers created a narrative for him the Bible doesn’t provide. So, it isn’t canon, but they show him as a seeker who couldn’t let go of everything to follow Jesus. For me, it showed a true enough application of Jesus’ saying that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.
If you are looking for a new depiction of the Jesus story — either simply as entertainment or to pick apart because you enjoy theological brain-flexing — this might be worth your time.
Discussing Jesus movies, I can’t help but mention my favorite: Son of Man, a 2006 retelling of Christ’s story set in modern South Africa. Throw the term “historically accurate” out the window. That isn’t the point. Son of Man allows us to see the divine story in a different context. For North Americans, whose dominant culture usually depicts Jesus as white, watching this film challenges the whitewashing of Jesus. It offers an experience of seeing the divine in Black and brown bodies and remembering that the powers and principalities Jesus confronted remain with us today.
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