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Watch Season 2 with Us:

  • May 20-26:  Watch Episode 3 - Matthew 4:24

  • May 26 at 7:00:  Conversation

  • May 27-June 2:  Watch Episode 4 - The Perfect Opportunity

  • June 3-9:  Watch Episode 5 - Spirit

  • June 10-16:  Watch Episode 6 - Unlawful

  • June 16 at 7:00:  Conversation

  • June 17-23:  Watch Episode 7 - Reckoning  

  • June 24-30:  Watch Episode 8 - Beyond Mountains

  • June 30 at 7:00:  Conversation

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SEASON 2 QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

Episode 3

BACKGROUND NOTES

  • This episode takes place in Syria, not far from where the last one ended.  Jesus and the disciples are camped outside of town, and people are coming out of the cities to see Jesus. 

  • Read Matthew 4:23-25, for which this episode is named. 

  • The episode opens with Matthew and Philip, but soon the remainder to the disciples are all gathered together talking.  At one point, Mary the mother of Jesus arrives.  Jesus comes in only at the very end. 

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

  • Philip teaches Matthew a line from Psalm 139.  Read the whole psalm.  How does reading the whole psalm open up the verse they repeat:  "If I ascend to heaven, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”  Why would Philip think this is a good place for Matthew to start his study of scripture?  Why would it be a good place for you to start? 

  • The disciples talk about expecting the Messiah to be a warrior, not someone who heals people.  If God were going to appoint someone to come directly to “save” you, what do you hope that person would do?  Would your hope really change your life for the better?  How does your hope compare to what Jesus actually does?  Why is Jesus healing diseases instead of overthrowing the Romans?  What difference does that healing make to us now? 

  • Little James is annoyed that people are believing in Jesus and praising him because he’s healing them, and says without the healing they probably wouldn’t.  Who do you “follow”?  Who do you admire, listen to, and praise?  Why?  Is it because they are famous, or because they made a difference in your life?  What difference has Jesus made in your life that leads you to follow him? 

  • Thomas asks Little James about his disability, and why he hasn’t asked Jesus to heal him.  Little James responds:  “I don't know if I should. It just doesn't feel right. You know, and I suppose I've just been grateful that He called me to follow Him in spite of it, but-- it's never come up, not even once. I'm just afraid that if I mention it to Him, it will make Him change His mind about me, or something.”  Do you worry about God questioning your faith or changing his mind about you if you ask for too much?  Why is it so hard to ask for help sometimes?   

  • Mary the mother of Jesus says he has always been a worker.  Jesus helps people all day and then is exhausted.  Why?  If the healing is about more than just healing, couldn’t he finish 1 person (or 100 people) sooner, and still convey the same message?  Why continue? 

  • Andrew says that he thinks about being rich sometimes, and then feels guilty, “. . . for thinking about things I shouldn't, for wanting things I shouldn't care so much about. Sometimes, I feel like... like I'm living someone else's life. Like... when I look at myself from the outside... it doesn't always feel like me. It feels like someone who's... trying to live up to the heroes of our history, like, I have to do something great, but I know I'm not great. Know it even more now, being with Him.”  Do you ever feel guilty for wondering about such things?  What does it take to be great?  Read Mark 9:33-37

  • The disciples are surprised when Mary (his mother) tells them about when he was a baby.  She says he needed to be cleaned, he was cold, he was crying, and he needed his mom’s help.  They are also stunned to hear that Jesus’ father died.  What insight does this perspective give us on Jesus (particularly in the context of the end of the episode)? 

  • Mary Magdalene talks about leaving home and leaving all she knew, and the struggle to return to who she had been.  Do we get second chances in real life, or is that just something that happens in the Bible and movies?  Where do those second chances come from? 

  •  Talking around the fire, several of the disciples confess times they broke Jewish Law.  Thomas says, “I've grown to love being Jewish, and I've grown to love following the Law, but it can be exhausting.”  What about being Christian and “being good” is exhausting?  So why try? 

  • Simon calls out Matthew for “choosing” what happened to him, while others like Mary (and himself) had no control over their trauma.  Several others seem to agree with him.  Is that fair?  Is life that black and white?  How much are any of us in control of our actions?  If so much is beyond our control, how and why do we do different/better? 

  • Simon asks Matthew why he’s learning scripture and changing his ways now.  Matthew never gets around to answering.  How do you think he might have answered?  What is different in his life now? 

  • What do you think of the disciples arguing and attacking each other?  Have you ever considered them being so divided (and human)?  Aren’t they supposed to be good, faithful, and saintly?  What does their bickering mean is possible for us? 

  • Finally, Jesus arrives completely worn out.  Have you ever considered the suffering he endured before the cross?  Why might caring for those people have been so exhausting?  Do you ever think what it takes out of God to care for us every day?  How does this contrast with what weighs on the disciples’ minds? 

Episode 2

BACKGROUND NOTES

  • The opening scene is in present day Caesarea Philippi (a Roman city north of Judah), with Jewish architect Nathanael and his Roman supervisor Leontes.

  • The next scene involves Simon, Thomas, James and John in the Bashan (an area east of the Sea of Galilee, north of Samaria).  They run into Philip, a follower of John the Baptist.

  • The scripture they say together about making fires of the weapons comes from Ezekiel 39:1-10.  In this passage, God foretells Israel’s defeat of invaders from the north. They will come in such great numbers that people will be able to use the discarded weapons of the defeated army as firewood for seven years.  Some Christians who believe in the rapture see prophetic meaning in this passage.  Although we understand it speaks to God’s power to defeat bullies and Israel’s great victories, it’s not an important passage in our tradition. 

  • Next, the story goes back to Nathanael in a bar, talking about himself. 

  • The rest of the episode goes back and forth between various disciples and Nathanael until their stories merge at the end. 

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

  • Philip (who becomes one of the 12 disciples) presents as an odd, wise, and enigmatic character.  Other than his calling with Nathanael and his baptizing an Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:5-40, there’s not much about him in the Bible.  How does his character come off to you?  What does he add to the human side of Jesus’ story? 

  • Nathanael claims that he “died of hubris” (excessive pride or self-confidence).  When has hubris caused complication or ruin for you?  If hubris (excessive pride) isn’t good for us, is there still room for healthy pride?  What’s the difference? 

  • Philip says to Matthew:  “I was something else once, too.  Once you've met the Messiah, am is all that matters.”  Instead of living in the past and dwelling on our past actions, how does Jesus compel us to focus on our present and future?  What difference does that make? 

  • Matthew draws a picture on the ground and says to Philip:  “Here's a circle-- It represents everything in the world and all the people that have ever been.  [Pointing to a place outside the circle...]  And that's me.  That's how I feel.”  Do you ever feel like Matthew?  If so, what’s different about you, and why are you made to feel outside?  With that in mind, how can you help others farther outside the “norm” feel more included? 

  • Matthew’s is wired differently than the other disciples.  Today we might call him “neurodivergent.”  Learn about neurodiversity at https://exceptionalindividuals.com/neurodiversity/.  If you want to go deeper, listen to this YouTuber with autism help explain it:  https://youtu.be/H6xl_yJKWVU.  How is neurodiversity a blessing, rather than a curse, such as in the case of Matthew? 

  • While under the tree, Nathanael recites Psalm 102.  The Psalms are not like other scripture.  They are prayers and songs that express raw and honest feelings.  Read the psalm.  Notice that the writer moves from lament (like Nathanael) to praise.  What brings that change for Nathanael?  What moves you from lament to praise? 

  • Nathanael asks if God sees him.  Does God see Nathanael?  How?  What difference does it make?  Does God see you? 

  • Much of this episode comes from John 1:43-51.  Is this how you imagined that passage?  What do you like or dislike about the way it’s depicted in The Chosen? 

  • Mary and Ramah want to learn more Torah (the first 5 books in our Bible, also called the “Books of Moses”).  Girls didn’t attend religious school as all boys did.  What is Thomas missing when he says that instead of learning for herself, Ramah could ask him anything she wants to know?  What difference does it make that you can read scripture for yourself, rather than relying on a relative or a pastor to tell you?  Do you take advantage of that privilege? 

  • Philip says to Nathanael several times, “Come and see.”  That’s the same line Jesus says in John 1:38-39 to hook Philip.  This phrase recurs over and over throughout the Gospel of John.  What’s the difference between “Come and see,” and “Trust what I’m telling you”?  What does this say about our God, who would rather show us than tell us? 

  • Philip tells Matthew, “What you think you know, it doesn't matter. Only that Jesus chose you. That's where your confidence comes from now.”  Matthew begrudgingly replies, “I know He knows what He's doing. I just wish I did.”  We confess God knows what God is doing.  But it’s an entirely different thing to trust that.  Have you been led down a hard road (like Matthew) or experienced defeat (like Nathanael) that led you exactly where you needed to be?  Why is it so hard to trust God that there’s a future for us after change or defeat?

Episode 1 

SCENES / BACKGROUND

  • The episode begins a few decades in the future with John interviewing various disciples
    - He ends up in conversation with Mary, the mother of Jesus (he calls her “mother” 
       because on the cross Jesus had them adopt each other).  

  • The next scene has Big James and John plowing a field.

  • Then Thomas (the wedding caterer) and Ramah (the wine producer) are traveling on the road to Samaria to find Jesus and the disciples.  They are talking with Ramah’s father, Kafni.

  • Simon, Matthew, Andrew, Mary, and others are in Sychar, near where Jesus met Photina, the woman at the well (who is his biggest champion in this episode).  Sychar is a city in Samaria, a place and people outside the Jewish faithful, and considered enemies.  

  • The have dinner with the Samaritans Melech, Chedva, and Rebecca.

  • They spend the night in the house of Nedim, Photina’s partner.

  • The episode ends in the synagogue.  As Jesus reads the scroll, there are flashes back to the beginning of the episode (in the future) with John writing.  

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

  • Why is there competition between disciples?  Simon and Matthew argue over numbers.  Matthew is put off by Thomas being good with numbers and precision.  Simon seems deflated when Jesus commends Big James and John for their work in the field.  Simon is resentful when they take charge of dinner preparation.  The later argue about the agenda for the time after Sychar.  Do you ever feel in competition with other people when it comes to being “good” or recognized?  Why is it so hard for us sometimes to be happy for others when they do good work?  Is it because we believe they aren’t worthy, or because we want to prove that we are good (secretly fearing that we are not)?  Read Philippians 3:2-11.  

  • In Kafni’s conversation with Jesus, he admits he doesn’t believe in what Jesus saying.  Then to Thomas, he says, “You may be stupid, but I am not.”  Have you ever felt foolish for believing in a God you can’t see?  Or worried that people will judge you as being deluded into wishful thinking with no basis in reason?  How do you feel about yourself when you have those thoughts?  Jesus says to Kafni, “I understand.  Thank you for your honesty.”  How do you talk back to the doubt and shame that come with these thoughts?  How do you respond to others who don’t believe.  Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

  • Melech (the lame man) says,  “What do want from me?”  What does Jesus want from him (hint: it’s not just belief)?  What does Jesus want from you?  To simply tell and listen to stories with you?  

  • Chedva (Melech’s wife) says, “When I was a little girl, my father told me the Messiah would bring an end to pain and suffering.  If you are who people are saying you are, when will you do that?”  Jesus responds, “In this world, bones will still break.  Hearts will still break.  But in the end, light will overcome darkness.”  Knowing the difficulties she faces, how would you answer Chedva if you were asked to speak for Jesus in this moment?   

  • Jesus says, “This is what we Jews do.  We tell and listen to stories.  Our stories connect us.  Tell me your story.”  When was the last time you listened to someone’s story?  When was the last time you told yours?  What was the impact of each?  

  • When talking about sheep, Jesus doesn’t do so much preaching, but asking a shepherd to describe what he would do.  When preparing to read scripture, he asks John to select his favorite scripture.  Why is that?  How might this be an example for how we share the Good News in our daily lives?  Is it all just preaching to people?

  • It’s clear that James and John are prejudiced against the Samaritans (and many Samaritans against them).  When have you spoken or acted out of prejudice?  What did Jesus do (and ask them to do) to help them see past their prejudice?  Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.  

  • Jesus names James and John the Sons of Thunder.   They say, “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”  Jesus responds:  “Today, it was not good. But strong passion can be a good thing, when channeled for righteousness.”  Can you think of traits you possess that can be used for good or for bad?  How do you use them to plant seeds?  

  • The episode ends with Jesus reading the creation story of Genesis 1 interspersed with the beginning of John’s Gospel.  Read Genesis 1 and John 1:1-14. How does John’s experience and telling of creation bring depth to Genesis 1?  What does these have to do with what happened in this episode?  How does it impact your life?  

SEASON 1 QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

Episode 8 Questions for Reflection

  • In the opening scene, Jacob (from the Old Testament) is describing God to a Canaanite.  What was the Canaanite man’s impression of gods?  What was Jacob’s impression of God?  

  • What does Jacob mean when he says, “We didn’t choose God . . . God chose us”?  What does it mean to you to be chosen by God?  

  • Nicodemus calls up the story of Hagar (Genesis 16) and the “God who sees.”  Jesus mentions that he and Eden see the same thing in Simon.  He also tells Eden “I see you.”  Jesus shows that he knows the Samaritan at the well by naming her husbands.  What does it mean that God “sees” us?  What does God see in you?  

  • Jacob and the Canaanite man, and Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, have conversations about where we can worship God.  What is the benefit of an “invisible” God that you can worship anywhere?  Where are we supposed to God when we need God?  What does it mean to worship in “spirit and truth,” and with “heart and mind”?  

  • When Jesus shows up at Eden’s house, she says, “I didn’t expect you here,” and Jesus responds that people rarely expect him to be there.  The woman at the well claims God has never given her anything.  Why don’t we expect God to show up in our lives?  When and how has God showed up in your life?  When have you missed God’s presence in the moment?  

  • Would you rather that you see God, or God sees you?  

  • Jacob describes “an invisible God, whose promises take generations to come true, who makes you sojourn in a strange places, and who broke his hip.”  Eden says it’s “our peoples’ way.”  Why does it have to be this way?  

Episode 7 Questions for Reflection

  • In the first scene, Moses and Joshua talk about the unexplainable things God has done.  Moses notes that they were acts of faith, not reason.  What does that mean?  When have you acted on faith rather than reason?  Who did you have faith in?  God?  Yourself?  Someone else?  

  • Matthew explains to Gaias, “When you realize that nobody else in the world cares about what happens to you, you think only about yourself.”  How does rejection, isolation, and/or self-preservation lead us to sin?  

  • Quintas tells Nicodemus, “You and I want the same thing.  We want rules followed.  We want order.”  Why are rules and order desired?  Who makes the rules you live by?  When is it right to follow the rules and when is it right to break them?  

  • We’re getting to see Nicodemus’ faithfulness.  Mary describes him by saying, “He seemed earnest.  He wasn’t offended to learn that someone else had succeeded where he had failed. There was a hunger in his eyes, not fear.”  How well do you take it when someone else succeeds where you fail?  How does it hold you up when you don’t take it well?  How did it free Nicodemus?  

  • Jesus’ and Nicodemus’ conversation is deep.  What did you take from it?  Do Jesus’ explanations about the Spirit, being born again, and the Kingdom of God make sense to you?  Why or why not?  What would help them make more sense?  

  • What is the Kingdom of God?  

  • What would you give up to “follow” Jesus?  Why?  How might it following be better?  What would you not give up?  Why not?  

Episode 6 Questions for Reflection

  • People gathered around Jesus teaching after seeing others there.  Nicodemus says that people stood in line to see John the Baptist because others were standing in line.  Do we follow Jesus just because others have (maybe our parents or grandparents)?  

  • Reactions to the leper were severe--people backed away, they didn’t want to breathe the same air, and knives were even drawn.  What can make someone so afraid?  What do you know about lepers in Jesus’ time?  Who are the lepers of our day?  

  • Simon both wants to attract more followers (recall his advice for the wedding) and not draw attention.  Which is it?  Why is he split?  Who are the “right” people?  Why do you think people are drawn to Jesus?  

  • Nicodemus and Schmuel have a pointed argument about interpreting scripture.  Which side are you on?  Can’t we just follow what the Bible says and not interpret it?  When have we used scripture to place limits on God?  

  • Jesus talks a bit about repenting or perishing in this episode.  This may need to be a place where Biblical context (not necessarily context in The Chosen) and interpretation may be really important.  Do you think it’s so black and white to God?

  • What is your reaction to Jesus healing the man who was paralyzed?  How would you react if you witnessed something like this today?  Would you be amazed and believe, or would you think it was a trick? 

Episode 5 Questions for Reflection

  • What do you make of the conversation between Nicodemus and John the Baptist?  What are they both looking for and hoping for?  Shouldn’t they both already know what’s going on? Is this how you pictured John?  

  • What do you make of the conversation and joking among Jesus’ followers?  

  • Why should anyone consider Jesus remarkable?  What is it about him?  Is it just the miracles?  

  • Both the bride’s father (Abner) and Simon seem to think wealth and power is important.  How does Jesus prove them both wrong (Simon in their conversation, and Abner with the wine)?  What is important?  

  • What kind of symbolism or allegory did you notice in this episode?  Consider the following:  Jesus in his “father’s” house, John the Baptist talking about preparing the way and quoting lots of scripture, Simon talking about learning how to fish, the purification jars, the good and cheap wine, Thaddeus explanation of smithing vs. stonecutting, etc.  Why is it meaningful to tie what Jesus is doing to the Old Testament?  

  • What is the question over whether Jesus’ “time” has come?  Time for what? 

  • How does Jesus “save” the wedding family?  

Episode 4 Questions for Reflection

  • Quintas tells Matthew, “You people want to be ruled.  You people want an excuse to complain.”  What is easier about being ruled than being responsible?  

  • What do family relationships look like in this episode?  Consider those of Simon, Andrew, Eden (Simon’s wife), Eden’s ima (mother), Zebedee and his sons James and John...

  • Eden accuses Simon of trying to fix everything himself.  What’s so wrong with that?  Isn’t he just trying to take responsibility?

  • Before the catch, why isn’t Simon as excited about the Messiah as Andrew is?  Why doesn’t he want to hear about it?

  • What do you think of Simon’s accusations of God?  What is his beef with God?  

  • Would you have been able to drop things and follow Jesus like Peter, Andrew, James, and John did?  What kind of miracle would you have needed to see?  What did Jesus offer them that is more than just a miracle?   

Episode 3 Questions for Reflection

  • What do you think of Jesus’ interactions with the children?  His silliness? His laughter?  His answering their questions?  Why do that for kids (and adults), when they haven’t given him any good reason to give his time and care to them? 

  • Why do the kids seem interested in Jesus from the start? Why do they do work for him?  What is it about him? 

  • Jesus invites the kids not only to watch, but to help him. How is that like God’s invitation to humanity to partner with God in creation? 

  • Jesus says, “Everyone has a much larger job than just their trade.  And you are more than just students.  You are at school to show love to one another.  And to take God’s Word and share it.  And at home to honor your father and mother.  And most important, from the Law of Moses, to love, who...?”  Joshua finishes, “The Lord your God, with all your heart.”  What is your larger job (or jobs)? 

  • If you had to name what Jesus’ job is, what would you say?

  • Jesus calls one of the kids “Joshua the brave.”  What name would Jesus give to you? 

  • Why does Jesus mean when he says, “Adults need the faith of children”?

Episode 2 Questions for Reflection

  • Several of the characters make distinct choices in this episode (Peter to turn in merchants, lie to wife; Matthew to keep talking to Quintas, not go in to his family; Mary to host Shabbat; Nicodemus to investigate Mary's healing instead of just celebrating the win).  What guides your decision-making?  How do you know what's "right" and "wrong"?

  • What do you learn about the Sabbath (Shabbat) from this episode?  Why do they observe it, and how? 

  • Why do we observe the Sabbath, and how?  Are we doing it well?  What would an ideal Sabbath (according to the purpose you learned in the episode) look like to you? 

  • What is the purpose of ritual?  What is the problem with ritual? 

  • What activity is most renewing for you?  In other words, what activity brings you to life? 

Episode 1 Questions for Reflection

  • How do the portrayals (so far) of Simon (Peter) and Mary Magdalene (Lilith) track with your past perceptions of them?  What is challenging about the differences?  What is thought-provoking about the differences? 

  • Fear is a common theme in Episode 1.  Considering the characters as portrayed, life in Bible times, and life in general as an actual human person... what do each of the following people have to be afraid of:  Mary Magdalene, Simon and Andrew, Matthew (and his cart driver), Nicodemus, and the Roman soldiers?  Why should they be afraid?  Deep down, what are you afraid of?  Why?

  • Where do characters seek hope (whether "right" and "wrong")?  Consider especially, but not exclusively, Peter's schemes, Nicodemus' teachings, and Mary's conversations with her father.  

  • What questions do you hear the characters asking?  

  • What questions, insights, or thoughts come to you while watching or afterwards?  What does the episode move in you?