The Chosen is a historical TV drama about the life and ministry of Jesus and his followers. This is the first ever multi-season episode-based Netflix style portrayal of Jesus. Already seen by over a hundred million viewers world-wide, it has drawn critical acclaim and is now well into its fourth season.

There is so much detail missing from the gospels, so this series seeks to imagine how the character’s lives and relationships play out in and around the known biblical narrative. With excellent writing and high-quality production, viewers are drawn into the story in a way which the written word sometimes struggles to achieve. Predictably, a few have criticised the scenes which don’t appear in the biblical text, but overwhelmingly the series has drawn praise for the way in which it places Jesus and his disciples in a realistic historical context and portrays them as distinctly human and relatable.

While the superb sets and costumes serve to portray the historical context of first century Galilee and Judea, the drama goes deeper still to bring the cultural background alive. I have read the gospels for well over 40 years, but this series has helped me understand in a brand-new way, how the tensions between Jews and Gentiles played out in everyday life, and what a stifling impact the Roman occupiers had on everyone.

I have often heard the disciples described as a ‘motley’ bunch, but The Chosen really brings home the incredible variety of conflicted & imperfect personalities in the group. Simple imagining their back-stories adds depth to each character, and explains the reason for the numerous squabbles and disagreements.  For example, Matthew the tax collector is completely disowned by his family and shunned his community for collaborating with Rome. None of the others understand why Jesus would choose him as a follower and their relentless anger and mockery towards him continues right through the first two seasons.

While the history, culture & relationships all draw you brilliantly into the story, it the central portrayal of Jesus which most captivates the imagination. The way he is played is just so ‘human'. Dry and gently sarcastic, great company, positive and fun, he is someone you would just love to spend time with.  The miracles are frequent, and as lives are changed in a moment, you see the impact not only on the person who has been healed, but on their family and friends, and ultimately their community. 

Jesus teaches the crowds with authority and acts with incredible kindness, generosity and compassion.  His only negative emotions are directed towards the Jewish rabbis who criticise him publicly and plot in secret to share news of his ‘law-breaking’ activity with their higher authorities.  This is a Jesus who I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to at least find out more about, if not choose to follow!

Whether or not you are a believer, The Chosen will seriously enhance your view of who Jesus is. I sincerely recommend that you check it out. It’s available to stream free on their website


Nigel Hemming,

Senior Pastor,

Winchester Vineyard Church