During the COVID-19 shutdown, many people downloaded and binge-watched an eight-episode television series called "The Chosen," about the life of Jesus Christ.
"The Chosen" is the first-ever multi-season TV show about the life of Jesus. Created outside of the Hollywood system, the series allows us to see Him through the eyes of those who knew Him.
Season 1 was funded entirely by private donations, making it the number-one Crowd-Funded media project of all time, with donations of more than ten million dollars, and distributed through Vid-Angel productions.
In it, Bible characters come to life. Writer and director Dallas Jenkins explains the thinking behind the name of the series.
"We look at and use the term for Christ as the 'Chosen One.' So, it refers to Christ in many ways. The Jews are God's chosen people. Even as an Evangelical, I believe that. And the people that Christ chose to follow Him and be on his team – as we like to say – it's a little bit of a nod to that.
You might say telling Bible stories is in Dallas Jenkins' blood. His father, Jerry, is co-author of the popular Left Behind book series.
He told us producing a television series about the life of Christ is much different than many of the films we see that try to capture His life and earthly ministry.
"When you do a movie about the life of Christ, you've got 90 to 120 minutes to try to cover a lot of ground," Jenkins said. "So, oftentimes it goes from miracle to miracle. Bible story to Bible story. Jesus is typically the main character. So, you are just seeing things through His eyes and you're encountering people for a very brief amount of time."
"The Chosen" is different. In a multi-season show, the creators were able to develop the characters and expand on the Bible narrative while keeping to the spirit of the text.
"We are able to really explore in-depth, these people," Jenkins said.
Jonathan Roumie plays the role of Jesus in the series. It's a role he calls "life-changing."
"It's humbling. It's overwhelming. It's inspiring. It's faith inducing," Roumie said. "Faith strengthening. It's kind of indescribable," he added
It's also different, Roumie told us, because The Chosen shows sides of Jesus' ministry that have never been depicted on film before.
The day CBN News visited the set, the crew was getting ready to film an episode on the Wedding at Cana, the first miracle Jesus performed.
"We're exploring what it is like to be at a first-century wedding. What it might have been like to have Jesus as a guest at a wedding," Roumie said. "It's a very joyous occasion. And again, one I can scarcely recollect having seen put to film before."
Roumie also told us about playing Jesus in a way that expresses is humanity – something people tend to forget about, or have trouble imagining.
"He felt the things that we feel. He experienced loss and sadness, frustration, and happiness, joy, and all those things. Temptation, but without conceding to that," Roumie observed.
Was it intimidating to play Jesus?
"Oh, yeah," Roumie said. "Anybody that says otherwise is either not familiar with who Christ is, was, or will be. Or they're letting their ego answer that question."
To prepare to play Jesus, Roumie said he prays a lot, reads, and goes to church. But mostly, he said, it's prayer that he turns to in order to play the role of the Son of God.
We asked director Dallas Jenkins what it's like to take the pages of scripture and bring them to life.
"Even though I am the one who is doing it, and I am the director, and I am the one who is writing the words, I still feel like I am following along and just listening," Jenkins said.
The creators of "The Chosen" are now working on Season Two. To view all eight episodes of Season One, click HERE for information on how to download it at no charge.
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