Discovering ‘The Chosen’ And Loving It

Judith Valente
4 min readApr 28, 2024
Actor Jonathan Roumie plays Jesus in the series “The Chosen.” In this scene Jesus is depicted giving of the Sermon on the Mount.

I’ve rarely excelled at tracking the latest in pop culture trends. For instance, I’ve never seen an episode of “Friends” or “Seinfeld” even though those shows were cultural emblems of their time. So it’s no surprise that I didn’t discover The Chosen, a hip new take on the life of Jesus, until the show was well into its third season and a friend in my Benedictine prayer group told me about it.

Now I can’t get enough of it.

Dallas Jenkins, the show’s creator, sought to recreate Scripture passages for which we receive only the skeleton of the story. He said he also wanted to flesh out the snippets of biographical information we have on the apostles. The Chosen, however, seems weakest when it tries to invent dialogue for the apostles, the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time, or else their Roman occupiers. It’s only when Jesus shows up in a scene that things start percolating.

In fact, in one Zoom watch party for the show, in which Jesus (played by Jonathan Roumie) hadn’t yet appeared four minutes into the episode, people started texting in the Chat, “Where’s Jesus? We want Jesus!”

I get it. Jenkins gives us a Jesus who isn’t particularly attractive or adept (in one amusing scene he keeps missing the ball in a Biblical version of catch). Yet there is something so even-keeled about him that you can’t help but want to be around him. He seems always to know what to say, whether he is talking to Jewish council members trying to trip him up or a gaggle of children who accidentally discover the hideaway where he goes to pray.

When he talks with people, he says, “Look at me,” and seems to have all the time in the world for them.

The show is at its best when dramatizing some of the most poignant of the gospel passages. I found myself tearing up at a scene in which Jesus encounters a woman who has been menstruating continuously for 12 years. She pushes her way through a crowd mobbing Jesus, believing that if she can just touch the tassel on his outer garment she will be healed. When Jesus turns and asks who touched him, the woman sheepishly admits it was her, sure that he will scold her because she is considered “unclean” under Jewish law.

Actor who plays Jesus in the series “The Chosen” reaches out to cup the face and heal a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years.
Jesus comforts a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years in a scene from “The Chosen.”

Instead, Jesus calls her, “Daughter.” She responds that she is no longer anyone’s daughter. “Look up,” Jesus tells her, and staring into her eyes says, “Yes, you are.”

The passage in Mark’s gospel ends with Jesus telling the woman, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” But when the woman thanks Jesus in The Chosen and before he departs, Jenkins has Jesus add, “You have blessed me today … I am so glad that we found each other.”

I like to think of Jesus turning things around that way — feeling blessed by someone whom society deems has nothing worthwhile to give. At the end of the scene, a viewer who was part of the group watching the episode on Zoom wrote in the chat, “I’m bawling.”

The Chosen also depicts Jesus’ encounter with a group of people gathered around a pool with supposed healing powers. He heads straight for the one paralytic who has been trying for years to get into the pool, but never makes it over the edge because others who have come for healing walk over him and beat him into the water.

Jesus asks the man, “Do you want to be healed?” then says, “Get up, take up your mat, and walk.” When the man is finally upright — still utterly bewildered — Jesus kisses him on the forehead and walks away before the man can ask his name.

You come away from these scenes not just wanting to be with Jesus, you want to be like Jesus. You want to be someone who says to outcasts, “I’m so glad we found each other.” Who makes a beeline for those most of us would rather overlook: a man blind from birth, a deaf and mute father, a paralytic who must crawl wherever he goes.

This week, there was once again so much heartbreaking news. Israel bombarded a portion of Gaza where civilians were told they would be safe.

A presidential candidate went on trial for criminal acts.

Hearing oral arguments, a majority of Supreme Court Justices seemed to indicate they believe a U.S. president should have the same powers as an absolute monarch.

And, campus protests over Gaza have become so contentious classes had to be cancelled, as well as graduation in one university’s case. Many Jewish students say they fear for their safety.

Yes, we need a little more Jesus. We need someone to say, look at me. To say, yes you matter, yes you are loved. To call us daughter, to call us son.

This week, how can we be that person for others?

Dallas Jenkins said he created the series, “The Chosen,” to imagine gaps in stories found in Scripture and to introduce others to the gospel message of Jesus in an engaging and creative way.

(Episodes of “The Chosen” are available on and on The Chosen free app).



Judith Valente

Author of 4 spirituality books & 2 poetry collections. Award-winning reporter for Wall Street Journal, PBS-TV, Washington Post & 2 IL public radio stations.