Binge on Jesus
Even before COVID-19 started to change our lives, people binged. Here I am not talking about binge eating but the more recent phenomenon of watching episode after episode of a particular tv series or show we are into at one sitting- a kind of TV marathon. It could be ‘Game of Thrones’, or Netflix’s brilliant ‘The Crown’.
Now there have been some serious concerns raised recently about this kind of addictive viewing, with evidence emerging that those people who binge watch TV are more likely to become depressed, lonely, and obese- this would make sense as quite often the bingeing can be done when we are on our own, perhaps self-isolating and in need of a pick-me-up.
I have been binge watching myself in the last few weeks, but I have hopefully done it responsibly but this time it has been different from normal TV viewing as I have been ‘binging on Jesus’. Now, I don’t mean by that reading the New Testament cover to cover in one marathon sitting (although that is an idea!), but rather I have been doing something that nearly 65 million people in 180 countries have also been doing.
‘The Chosen’ if you have not heard of it is simply a phenomenon. It is the first ever multi- season TV series on the life of Christ, and I believe it is the most inspiring, lifting, moving and transformative version of the Christian faith ever made. OK, that is a big call when you consider the likes of ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ with Robert Powell and Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’, and there have been hundreds of Christian series/films telling different aspects of Jesus’ mission over the years, and to be frank, most of them have been pretty poor. Quite often that is due to the programmes or films being more concerned about evangelising rather than entertaining, and the result is that they only tend to appeal to Christians, rather than the general public- how can you further the Kingdom of God if you are only ever ‘preaching to the converted’? To disciple, we must get out of our Christian ‘bubble’!
This is where ‘The Chosen’ is so different. It has gained hugely impressive reviews from secular as well as Christian reviewers and audiences have been watching and re-watching its initial 8 episodes (Series 2 is currently being filmed). It is also unique as it is the most successful Crowdfunding project in entertainment history, as it was funded by 16,000 people who between them pledged more than $10m.
But why is ‘The Chosen’ so different from previous series and films that have come before? I think the answer lies in the fact that perhaps for the first time on screen, we learn more about the personalities in the Gospels- were the disciples married and how did their families react to them following Jesus?, how did Mary Magdalene become such a beloved disciple- what was her story and why did some follow Jesus but others turn down that incredible invitation?
‘The Chosen’ is also rich in something that most Christian shows lack – humour, fun and joy. Jesus laughs and he dances with his friends-he did not come here to make us all terribly serious about our life but “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). The performances from the top line cast (Elisabeth Tabish as Mary Magdalen and Erick Avari as Nicodemus will pull at your heart strings) are outstanding-I predict that you like me will be moved and inspired by what you see. I truly feel that it is transformational – the aim if for 1 billion people to watch the series around the world and a great start has been made as the intention is that it will run to 7 full seasons.
The series is very keen to show that it- like any show -is never a substitute for the Gospels and some characters and dialogue have been added but the makers have been keen to show that they have taken historical and spiritual advice for the storylines in the show so that the truth and intention of the Scriptures remain (an ‘extra’ on the App is a biblical roundtable on the choices they made).
One other thing-it is free. You do not need to take out an expensive subscription to ‘Netflix’, ‘Amazon’, or SKY to watch it. Because of COVID-19 the makers made it free for all to view on their App, or you can watch it on You Tube. People are encouraged to ‘Pay Forward’ the show – that simply means that, if you are able, they ask if you would donate money to allow others to see it. There is no pressure as everyone can see the series free if they want.
The trailer for it is below and at the end it guides you how to watch it- the App is free on both Apple (iPhone and iPad) and Google Play (Android)mobile phone systems.
Let’s binge on Jesus!