The Chosen is a multi-season TV series about the life of Jesus and His disciples. It’s the # 1 crowd funded media project of all time with 10s of thousands of people donating more than 20 million dollars to date. By June 2021 the first season had 150 million views world-wide with views increasing exponentially across 2021.
My experience of watching The Chosen , as well as that of others I know, is being moved to tears by nearly every episode. At the end of each there’s joy and an ache for more. It really is binge worthy TV. But why?
I believe there's one simple reason: The series is all about the beauty of Jesus (and God). The Chosen is about the beauty of Jesus’ heart and personality. Jesus is ‘The Desire of the Nations’ (Haggai 2:7) and this series touches on that truth written on the hearts of people across cultures. It’s so popular because, as Sam Storms, writes in One Thing: Developing a passion for the beauty of God :
"God created you for something better, for the heart-pounding joy and mind bending fascination and white-hot happiness that comes from relishing and rejoicing in the beauty of Jesus Christ."
John Piper echoes this,
"The more I ponder the source and ground of all our lasting joy, the more convinced I become...It's the Beauty of God. In all his gifts we are to see him. Especially in the gospel we are to see him. In all our seeing of the natural world we are to let our eyes run up the beam of beauty to the Original."
The greats of faith across history knew this (Jonathan Edwards):
"God is glorified not only by his glory's being seen but by it's being rejoiced in...He that testifies his having an idea of God's glory doesn't glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation [ie his heartfelt commendation or praise] of it and his delight in it."
King David, the man after God's own heart, made the beauty of God his life consuming passion.
People all over the world understand this intuitively as Christian books about the beauty of God regularly become bestsellers and, in time, classics. Here’s one flying off shelves right now:
Truly, this is, the foundation of our faith,
"Now this is eternal life: that they know (experientially) you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."
- John 17:3
Yet as Mike Bickle puts it,
"The most neglected subject in the church today is God - the nature and personality of God."
From my viewpoint (a relatively small one I admit), I would concur with this preacher. The messages I hear most often from Sunday pulpits are of how God can fix your life and rules to follow to be a good Christian. Not wrong but not subjects, on their own, to satisfy the human heart and produce joy and fullness of life in the long term. People can experience a miracle and still not meet the Man behind the miracle. (Eg the children of Israel in Exodus.) Yet others can never see a miracle and be full of joy and passion for Jesus because they know the Man. It’s like the old saying,
In our context,
"Give a person a miracle and He has to come back each week for a new one. But teach a person to gaze upon (meditate), delight in and know the Man with the beautiful heart - the all-powerful, unchanging One who uses His power for kindness - and you introduce a person to a spring of life that never runs dry."
Jesus is the most fascinating, kind, joyful, full-of-life, understanding, strong, powerful Man there ever was, is and will be. He does miracles out of who He is. He calls us to obey Him out of experiencing the abundant life He offers. Encountering and knowing Him in His beauty is the secret to life, the secret to joy, the secret to a strong and vibrant faith. The popularity of The Chosen points to this and to the hunger of people across the world for more.