By now you’ve probably seen (or at least heard of) the multi-episode online series called “The Chosen.” The series is a portrayal of Jesus’ ministry specifically focused on the backstory and calling of his first disciples and the twelve apostles. Each of these men and women are chosen and called by Jesus with a purpose in mind. I think the series is well done, with splendid writing, acting, and production. From what I can tell, the producers of the show have done an outstanding job of reproducing the cultural context of first century Galilee and Judea. Of course it is a work of fiction – most of the conversations, side-characters, internal motivations, and details are invented for entertainment. However, the main characters and plotlines remain remarkably close to the inspired biblical accounts.
After I watch an episode, I like to go read the biblical account of the story that was covered to see what actually happened according to the Word of God. While I do recommend the series, be careful when watching. We can’t confuse a theatrical recreation with what the Bible says. And the actor playing Jesus – while he does a phenomenal job – is not really Jesus! Please don’t picture him when you pray! The written Word of God (note, God left us only words, no pictures or videos) should be our foundational source for understanding Jesus’s life and mission.
What I think is most captivating about the series is the focus on the backstory of each disciple or apostle that follows Jesus (there were many disciples that followed him, but only twelve apostles). It is interesting to speculate about what each apostle’s life might have been like before Jesus chose them and called them to follow him. But what the series doesn’t tell us (or at least not that I’ve seen so far), is why Jesus called his apostles. For that, let’s look at Mark’s Gospel and the inspired account of Jesus appointing his chosen apostles:
“And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. 16 He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”
– Mark 3:13-19
Did you catch what the Word of God said in verses 14-15? Jesus appointed the twelve apostles “so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons.” Two simple purposes for the twelve apostles: to be with Jesus and to be sent out from Jesus. Of course the twelve Apostles had unique authority in the foundation of the Church (note, capital “A” and capital “C”); however, I think the reason Jesus continues to choose each follower, even today, is not all that different.
If you have faith in Christ and are following him, then you too are one of “God’s chosen ones” (Colossians 3:12). There are a variety of ways to think about the Christian life, but consider this simple two-part calling: to be with Jesus and to be sent out from Jesus.
Christian, be with Jesus. Spend time with him. Of course we can’t sit around the fire with him like his earthly disciples did, but through the Holy Spirit we too can have intimate relationship. And then, answer Jesus’ call to be “sent out on mission” (that’s what the word “apostle” meant in the original Greek). Christian, you go out into your school, workplace, and neighborhood with Jesus’ authority to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom and drive out the influence of the devil wherever you go.
Christians have been chosen: chosen to be with Jesus and to be sent out on mission.
“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” – 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5