I won’t belabor the point; I cry a lot when I watch movies and television as long as what I’m watching is good. Stuff with skill, real emotion, and heartfelt inspiration frequently do the trick. Not the drippy, Hallmark-style stuff. If you so desire, you can read a few of my other crying “testimonials” here and here.
I also love The Chosen, the incredible crowd-funded series about Jesus and His disciples. If you want to read a few of my thoughts on this amazing series, you can find those here and here. Needless to say, when you combine my propensity to cry when watching emotionally moving films or TV shows and my love of The Chosen, it’s a match made in heaven. So, without further ado, here are Five Times The Chosen Made Me Cry – Season One. (Warning. There will be spoilers.)
Episode Two – Shabbat: Mary and Nicodemus
Beautifully written and performed, this scene is a perfect example of why this show works so well. It’s not flowery. It cleverly avoids the pitfalls of 99% of all Biblical adaptations. The scene is simple – two people talking, Nicodemus and Mary of Magdala. But, because the plotting is so good and the writing is so sharp, we come to this scene with plenty of backstory for both of these wonderful characters. And because we have that depth of knowledge, this simple, tender exchange hits that much harder. The previous interaction between these two characters was much different. At that time, Mary was possessed by demons and Nicodemus attempted and failed to help her.
Midway through Episode two, Nicodemus sees Mary at the market. He is stunned to see her fully healed. He recognizes the hand of God in this healing, though he hasn’t fully come to terms with that yet. Mary is simply grateful to be restored for the first time in years. She is initially unsure of Nicodemus’s motives in talking to her, but soon realizes he is genuine. It is then she explains what happened to her, “Here’s what I can tell you: I was one way. And now I am completely different. And the thing that happened in between was Him. So, yes, I will know Him for the rest of my life.” She politely excuses herself so she can go prepare for Shabbat. Nicodemus is floored. This woman who was beyond all hope or aide, is “so mended [she is even] hosting Shabbat dinner.”
Again, It’s not flashy. There are no bright lights, swelling orchestra, or over-the-top acting performances. No, it is grounded, real, and heartfelt. All reasons The Chosen is such a smashing success. And one of the main reasons The Chosen makes me cry so often. I join with Nicodemus and Mary with my own tears of joy when I watch this scene.
Episode Three – Jesus Loves the Little Children: Jesus teaching the children
I believe this is one the defining episodes of The Chosen. It is the first episode we spend more than just a few brief moments with Jesus. And, in a stroke of genius, the writers decide to show Jesus ministering to and teaching young children, before he begins His true recruitment of the disciples. It is a brave and completely groundbreaking decision and it pays off in unexpected ways from that point forward.
The particular scene that brought tears to my eyes is when Jesus has the children pray the Shema as they work around the campfire. Hearing those little voices recite the sacred words in unison is almost too beautiful to describe. The scene is punctuated with Jesus reacting to their recitation – tears forming in His eyes. Actor Jonathan Roumie (Jesus) plays the scene with such tender subtlety, you might miss the power of the moment. But, if you catch it, I believe it makes it even better.
I fully believe our Lord responds this way when we pray, recite Scripture, or mediate on His word. He is proud of His children. He “rejoices over us with gladness and singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17-18) Our words of adoration, praise, and obedience are beautiful to our heavenly Father. May we be like these children and offer them up continuously.
Episode Four – The Rock On Which It Is Built: The Miracle of the Fish
Joy, pure and unbridled. Up to this point, The Chosen had presented a few miracles, but this one is the first that completely overwhelms us in all the best ways. I don’t think the scene needs much set up, as it’s a very well-known story from Scripture. Simon and Andrew have fished all night and have caught nothing. They are at a point of no return and their situation is hopeless.
He tells Simon to cast the nets out one more time. We know the rest of the story. Or, we thought we did. Seeing it play out on screen, with all the amazing reaction shots from Mary, Matthew, Andrew, Simon, and the Zebedee family, combined with the enthusiastic and dynamic score, create something we haven’t seen before.
I feel no shame admitting I cried the first time I watched this scene. To be honest, I cried the last time I watched it too. Happy and joyful tears. When you watch The Chosen, it’s likely you will cry those happy tears as well.
Episode Seven – Invitations: Nicodemus and Jesus
I have high hopes for Nicodemus even though his storyline did not end well in Season One. I have no idea what the creators of The Chosen have planned for him, but I hope he will reappear at some point. He came so close. Jesus says that about him. But, before he lacked the courage to give up his life and follow Jesus, he had a very important roof-top conversation with the Messiah.
Nicodemus has served God faithfully his whole life. He is genuinely and actively seeking the truth. When he encounters the fulfillment of all that searching, he falls to his knees in worship. It’s an emotionally raw and heartwarming moment in a show full of those types of moments. Actor Erick Avari is simply mesmerizing in this scene. He is open, vulnerable, curious, and ultimately overwhelmed. It’s a masterclass in acting: subtle when needed, grand and ebullient when required. When Nicodemus is embraced by Jesus, it is cathartic.
Episode One – I Have Called You By Name: Mary meets Jesus
This was the moment. It was this scene that persuaded me, truly convinced me that The Chosen was something different. Something better. Don’t misunderstand. I was enjoying the episode prior to the final scene. It felt fresh and new and out-of-the-box in it’s style and tone. But, the moment when Jesus heals Mary, the show catapulted to an entirely unprecedented level.
I hesitate to claim anything in any television show or movie is perfect, but these final moments are about as perfect as you can get. The callback to the passage from the book of Isaiah that had played such a huge role in Mary’s young life. The implied declaration of Jesus that He is the Messiah. Mary hearing her name for the first time in years. The music and vocals of the score. Jonathan Roumie and Elizabeth Tabish’s acting. It all works.
The Chosen proves without a doubt that these stories can be told and they can be told with artistry, skill, and vision. This scene more than proves that. When I cry as I watch something moving, I tend to tear up a bit. Rarely do I full on weep. I wept the first time I watched this scene. Mary was a stand-in for me in that moment. I don’t ever want to forget that my response to who Jesus is and what He has done should inspire this kind of reaction from me. I’m so grateful for the reminder.
Now it’s your turn. Tell us about the moments or scenes when The Chosen made you cry. It’s okay. This is a safe, judgment-free zone.