The Chosen - Faith and You

Nate Abrahamson (Cottage Grove, Wisconsin USA)

About the presenter

Since graduating from Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary in 2012, Nate Abrahamson has been the Associate Pastor at Abiding Shepherd, a multi-campus church in Cottage Grove and Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and a Christian community that makes extensive use of visual media and technology for studying and sharing the Good News. Nate, his wife Stella and daughter Ruthie live in Cottage Grove.

The Chosen, Faith & You

Why The Chosen is more than just bingeworthy tv.

Some might wonder, "Can a hit tv show that has become so popular that it's even available on local antenna tv, really be good for your faith?" In my experience, the answer is a resounding "YES!" As a matter of fact, I have found that watching The Chosen has been one of the most spiritually uplifting experiences for me in recent years. It has made an incredible impact on my personal faith, how I study God's Word and how I minister to others. Before I get into how this has taken place, let's take a moment to talk about what exactly The Chosen is.

What is The Chosen Exactly?

The Chosen is a tv show BASED ON the life of Jesus. I emphasized BASED ON because this detail will significantly impact expectations when it comes to the show. As with any show that is BASED ON actual events, the show does not limit its content to what actually happened. Rather, the actual events serve as the basis for a show that will be fleshed out and developed by the writers.

As a result, The Chosen, while based on the life of Jesus, includes a great deal of storyline that is developed by the writers of the show and not found in Scripture. Also, the timing, context and details of events that are drawn from Scripture may be tweaked or adapted to fit the overall direction of the show. With these given realities of a show that is only BASED ON actual events, some might wonder, "Why watch a show that goes beyond what is recorded in Scripture and modifies the biblical accounts?

Seeing Scripture In Real Life

Part of why The Chosen functions as a show that is BASED ON the life of Jesus, is that the writers have developed the social contexts of biblical events as well as the personalities and backstories of the characters. While the idea of developing a fictional backstory to a non-fictional character may make some uncomfortable at first, it is really a helpful exercise and beneficial experience. Afterall, when Scripture tells us that Peter had a mother-in-law, Simon was a Zealot and Matther was a tax collector, doesn't that indicate that there is a whole context and backstory to each of these characters? These details given in Scripture are significant and worthy of pondering. The Chosen, as it develops these contexts and backstories, helps us to take note of these details and to see these biblical characters as real people, living in a real place at a real point in history.

The Humanity of Jesus

It's difficult for the limited human mind to grasp the fact that Jesus is both fully God and fully human. This is evidenced by the numerous theological debates in the early church as well as the resulting creeds. Interestingly, however, the challenge for many has seemed to shift. Initially, it was difficult for many to understand that Jesus wasn't just a man, but also fully God. As Christians, living now more than 2,000 years after Jesus' earthly ministry, it seems that it is more difficult for us to embrace how He is not just fully God, but also fully human.

The Chosen does a fantastic job of showcasing the humanity of Jesus. While many movies about Jesus feature an actor that has a unique look or portray Jesus as always acting in a stoic, serious way, different than the average person, The Chosen has taken a different route. Jesus cracks jokes. Sometimes His jokes are even received with a groan like so many "dad jokes" today. He dances, sometimes awkwardly. He laughs. He cries. He gets tired. He enjoys food. He looks, across the board, like a man. He is portrayed in every way as we are, yet without sin. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? The Chosen is helping us visualize the God-man described to us in Hebrews 4:15 and throughout Scripture.

Prompted to Ponder & Discuss

The Chosen often prompts viewers to ask questions like, "How does the way this event is portrayed in 'The Chosen' fit with how it is described in Scripture?" I've asked this myself numerous times and have had many congregants ask me the same question. Sometimes the answer is, "The portrayal in 'The Chosen' very much fits with the biblical account." Other times the answer is, "Based on the biblical account, I don't think I would have betrayed this event the way they did in 'The Chosen.'"

Regardless of the answer, however, this prompting to ponder and discuss is very beneficial. It pushes us to think deeply about the events of Scripture. It sparks lively discussion with others who have watched the show. It drives us back to God's Word to look for answers. This prompt to ponder and discuss leads the viewer to more actively engage with Jesus, His life and ministry as recorded for us in the Gospels.

The Impact

The way The Chosen has helped me see Scripture in real life, brings out the humanity of Jesus and has prompted pondering and discussion has impacted me in an incredibly positive way. Honestly, there is a point in almost every episode where I tear up at what is taking place, even if it's an episode I've watched numerous times. As a side note, I've watched season 1 no less than 12 times and I'm not exaggerating.

I think it hits me so deeply because, as one other viewer of The Chosen put it, it's now like I'm reading God's Word "in color." The Chosen has helped me to see Jesus as a real person who ministered to real people in our real world. This means, then, that everything in God's Word makes a real difference in our lives today and for eternity. It has helped me to better embrace the reality of Jesus and what He came to do in my everyday life. It has helped me to think more deeply about what we read in God's Word, coming to a better understanding and appreciation of the context and characters. It has equipped me to better help the people I serve to get into God's Word and get God's Word into their lives. My goal, when preaching and teaching, is to bring a message that has accessible depth. The Chosen has helped me to do just that.

If The Chosen has had this kind of positive impact on me, what kind of impact might it have on you? If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to give it a try. As you do so, approach the show with proper expectations, remembering what exactly The Chosen is. If you're looking for a show that sticks only to what is recorded in the Bible, you will be severely disappointed. If you're not interested in exploring potential backstories and contexts for biblical events, then you won't be interested in The Chosen. However, if you'd like to see the Scriptures in real life, embrace the humanity of Jesus along with being prompted to ponder and discuss God's Word, you may find yourself tearing up along with me at just what an amazing, real Savior we have in Jesus.


*All Images Used By Permission from Angel Studios/The Chosen


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Kathy Schreiner 2023-10-16 10:44:40am
I am now into Season Three of The Chosen. Along with several other Christian women, we follow a study for each season developed by Angel studios. These study guides, while pointing to Jesus as the only was to heave also provide opportunity for personal reflection. I think all of us have grown in our faith and found new ways to minister to each other and those around us.
Seeing how the personalities of the disciples may have been has been wonderful. To be able to visualize what their struggles may have been our own, how their daily lives were turned upside down by Jesus entering them is so inspiring to me.
This series also shows what Jesus could have been like in His interactions with others. I especially appreciate how He shows why some of us may have to endure physical ailments while others are healed.
Do yourself a favor and watch if you are not doing so now.
Nate Abrahamson (Presenter) 2023-10-18 9:34:11am
Kathy, thank you so much for sharing your experience with the Chosen! I'm so glad it has been uplifting for you as well!
Titus Doletzky (MLC) 2023-10-17 3:55:31pm
Pastor Abrahamson,

I have got to say when you wrote about this series doing a great job at showing the humanity of Jesus, my mind opened up. After watching "The Chosen" and reading the Bible, the series gave me a deeper sense of understanding of Jesus as both human and fully God. Your emphasis on that idea really helped me realize that, so thank you for sharing that.

After reading your article, I noticed in the introduction that you mention that it changed the way that you minister to others as a pastor. This point fascinates me, and I was wondering in what ways did "The Chosen" shift your work with other people? Does it help speak a certain message? Or does it simply help you phrase things in a way that is more understandable to people? I do see that later in the article, you mention the benefits of seeing in real life, but to those who have not seen "The Chosen" how does this show help you minister to them?

Thank you for your time spent writing this article. It showed what an impact this show has on people, and it really helped me realize why I would watch this even though it is not completely based on verses of the Bible when it comes to the interactions that take place during the series. God’s Blessings on your ministry!
Nate Abrahamson (Presenter) 2023-10-18 9:57:35am
Titus, you're welcome and thank you also for your comments! While there are certainly more than 2 ways that "The Chosen" has affected how I minister, here are 2 main examples that come to mind.

1) Helping People See God at work as they go about their lives.
Because "The Chosen" has given me a deeper understanding of how Jesus is both fully God and fully human, it has helped me to see how God is fully at work right here in my fully human life. In "The Chosen," Jesus looks very average. He even is shown as thinking through and rehearsing His sermon on the mount before sharing it. Yet, He's fully God. This has helped me see that even though my day looks very average and I'm going through things in a very normal, human way, God is still right there working in it. I've been able to encourage people this way. Yes, your life as a Christian looks much like any other life. Yet, the God is at work with you. Jesus is in you. The Spirit is empowering and guiding you. This depper understanding of Jesus being fully God and fully human has even helped me better explain the sacraments. The water in baptism along with the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper look completely normal, yet when used with the Word there is so much more going on in Baptism and Jesus' actual body and blood are present in the Lord's Supper.

2) Helping People See Details or Realize Connections to Scripture
After watching "The Chosen," I'm noticing details or even humor within Scripture that I did not see before. For instance, consider this back and forth between Jesus and His disciples after the feeding of the 4,000.
Matthew 16
When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” 8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? 9 Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

After "The Chosen" I now read this and imagine Jesus shaking His head in disbelief, almost comically when He says, "do you not yet perceive?" It's like Jesus is saying, "Don't you get it yet?!?! I just fed 4,000 people with practically nothing! I'm not worried about having no bread!" This scene has come to life for me and as such, I can help it come to life for others.

One other example of this comes to mind as I think about my sermons from the past 2 weekends. Last weekend I preached about the sinful woman who came to Jesus when He was eating at a pharisee's home. The week before I preached on the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. In both cases, I spent a considerable amount of time pondering what was going on mentally and emotionally with both of these woman. The Samaritan woman who had 5 husbands had again and again experienced the potential for love but then had been sent away in divorce. Her backstory was one of broken love and separation. But Jesus met her there at the well. The sinful woman had a backstory of shame and guilt, but Jesus spoke to her the message of forgiveness, deliverance from a debt she could never afford and granted her peace. "The Chosen" helped me think more deeply about these characters and in doing so, helped me share the message with others.
Jared Schlittenhart (MLC) 2023-10-17 8:12:56pm
Pastor Abrahamson,

As a college student studying to become a pastor and minister of the gospel, I found your article very interesting and insightful. I enjoyed your stories of how The Chosen affected your ministry and your view of Jesus as our Savior and true man.

However, after reading your article, I have a question that is bothering me, and I wonder if you could give some insight. I noticed near the end of your article, you write how there may be some reasons why someone would not want to watch The Chosen. Do you recommend using The Chosen as an introduction to the story of Jesus and the Gospels? Many things in the show seem wonderful for introducing the gospel message, but I struggle with the fact that the show is not entirely Scripture-based. Should we value Scripture more when evangelizing or show this softer side of Christ to introduce the Gospel?

Thank you again for your insights into The Chosen and for the time you devoted to sharing your thoughts. I hope God continues to bless you as you continue in your calling as a minister of the gospel!
Nate Abrahamson (Presenter) 2023-10-18 10:03:06am
Jared, thank you for comments! Yes, I actually think it's a great way to introduce someone to the story of Jesus and the Gospels! Very rarely when we introduce someone to Jesus do we do so by word for word quoting from Scripture. We typically summarize the Gospel message to them and share with them the hope that we have. When the opportunity arises we then give them Scripture itself but most of our conversation with them will be based on Scripture, not only Scripture. The one thing though to keep in mind, and I sense this may be part of what is behind your question, is that you don't want to give them the impression that everything that happens in "The Chosen" is straight out of the Bible. You would just want to be clear with them about the fact that "The Chosen" is based on the Bible, not the Bible itself. A subtle fear I've had throughout watching "The Chosen" is that people would fall more in love with the backstories or side stories rather than the actual events that come from Scripture itself. As great as the side stories have been, I can honestly say that the best parts for me have again and again been what has come right out of Scripture. The side stories have not detracted from Scripture but given me a greater appreciation for it.
Katie Kutz (MLC) 2023-10-18 3:22:00pm
Pastor Abrahamson,

I always enjoy reading articles or hearing presentations that include thoughtful and personal insights. I really appreciated the fact that you expanded on your personal reaction to watching The Chosen and how you felt it uplifted your spiritual experiences. By hearing about your own exposure to the show, I am much more likely to watch beyond the three episodes I’ve seen so far and enjoy television with the knowledge that this has the opportunity to strengthen my faith and adjust the way I see Jesus.

Despite the numerous positive and faith-strengthening reasons described in your article, some Christians suspect that watching a dramatized version of the Bible can bring nothing them harm. They feel that the only way to get the true words of God is by strictly reading the Bible. They worry that any other means of displaying the Bible could be full of false messages and pose dangers to their faith. Reading your article, I wondered if you’ve encountered such skepticism in personal conversations about “The Chosen.” I’m assuming you’d share the ideas related here with such skeptics, so I was also curious what kind of response a person with (sometimes understandable) concerns about adapting Scripture had to your thoughtful arguments here.

I want to thank you for your thoughtful insights and personal relation to The Chosen. I appreciated your thoughts about how this dramatized version of Jesus and his followers' lives can impact faith in a very positive way.
Nate Abrahamson (Presenter) 2023-10-19 4:08:05pm
Katie, you're welcome & thank you for your comments! Interestingly enough, in my many conversations about "The Chosen," I have not had anyone speak strongly against it. There are some who haven't loved the idea but they did not press the issue. I do know, however, that there are some strong feelings out there. I've heard of one situation in particular where a member at another church has caused quite the stir in his congregation because they chose to watch and discuss "The Chosen" as a church group. So strong opposition to "The Chosen" does definitely exist. While I can't speak from experience, I would anticipate that I would share much of what I've written in the article. Before doing so, however, I would likely ask them to further explain their concern about "The Chosen." I would ask, "What exactly are you concerned is going to happen?" I would ask this for 3 main reasons:
1) Beginning with a question assumes a posture of humility rather than opposition.
2) They may have an insight or perspective that I have not yet considered.
3) Their answer may actually reveal that their concern is unfounded. We are natually emotion based decision makers. We often make decisions first because we don't like something or it doesn't feel right. We then think through evidence to support our decision afterwards. Sometimes when we ask someone to further explain their concern, it will turn out that they themselves have not yet truly thought through their concern. Even if they have thought through their reasoning, better understanding their concern will better equip me to respond.

Thank you again for your comments!
Nate Abrahamson (Presenter) 2023-10-20 9:12:29pm
Greta, your question was accidentally deleted along with my response. Sorry about that! Your question was regarding the statement in my bio about how Abiding Shepherd makes "Extensive use of media and technology." You wanted to know more about that. The most significant way we use media and technology at Abiding Shepherd is in the presentation of our sermons. While it's common for many churches to now display the sermon text and other Scripture references on a projection screen, an average Abiding Shepherd sermon uses 25-30 slides. In addition to text, these slides contain pictures, maps, and insights into the original languages that help the worshippers really dig into the lesson. We also commonly use videos to help introduce a lesson or idea, dig into a concept or emphasize a point. You can check out some examples by going to

Another notable way we use technology is through devotional shorts. Most weeks I share 2-3 devotional shorts (less than 60 seconds in length) on tik tok, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Vimeo and Snapchat. These messages offer encouragement to members and friends of Abiding Shepherd throughout the week but also spread the message to a much wider audience. You can find examples of these devotional shorts by following Abiding Shepherd @abidingshepherd on Facebook or Instagram or by following me on tik tok @nabrahamson.

We also embrace media and techonology in a variety of other ways such as our church mobile app and congregation-wide Bible reading plans on the Youversion Bible app. Our sermons are also shared in a podcast format on Spotify & Iheartradio but I'd like to pursue sharing more content in the podcast format.

Thank you again for your question!
Christian Koelpin (MLC) 2023-10-26 4:19:32pm
Rev. Abrahamson,

I found your ideas and thoughts on The Chosen very similar to mine. I found it refreshing that the director was able to breathe life into characters with limited personalities from the Bible. Jesus' humanity makes the audience able to relate to him more, rather than being a stoic figure. I think the biggest thing that you mentioned was The Chosen sparking conversation between people on how it portrays biblical stories.

After reading this article I was pleased to read someone has all the same emotions and feelings I have while watching the show. It’s such a treat to watch something I’ve known all my life is such vivid imagery. Thank you for your outlook on this topic.
Nate Abrahamson (Presenter) 2023-11-01 3:09:20pm
Christian, you're welcome! Thank you fro sharing your reflections on "The Chosen" as well. God's blessings to you!
Noah Kelly (MLC) 2023-10-26 4:23:01pm
Nate Abrahamson:

I enjoyed seeing your appreciation for the series and the impact it had on your life and faith. I started watching the show as an assignment, and I, too, enjoyed seeing Jesus and the Bible in a more realistic setting. I agree with your statement about the show bringing you back to God’s Word and asking questions. I definitely see this being used for either a devotion/bible class setting or an evangelism.

You talked about the positives of making Jesus more like a human to emphasize his becoming a man. While this could be used to introduce Jesus, I wonder if this could take away your perception of Jesus as God. Some religions see Jesus as a normal man and not as God, so while it is interesting to see this more human side of God, do you think it is dangerous to portray Jesus like this?

Thanks again for the rich viewpoint you provided on the show.
Nate Abrahamson (Presenter) 2023-11-01 3:15:54pm
Noah, thank you for your comments and your question! I do not think it is dangerous to portray Jesus this way. I say that because it's important for us not to be too reactionary in how we portray Jesus or let fear dictate how we spread the message. To portray Jesus as less human than the rest of us would be to portray Jesus inaccurately. "The Chosen" does a wonderful job of portraying Jesus as He actually is, both fully God and fully human.

Thank you again!