Has anyone out there watched The Chosen?
I admit when I first heard about it, I was somewhat skeptical. I thought it was another show about a stern and pious Jesus walking around quoting scripture and having a little personality. I was wrong. It is so much more.
Growing up, Jesus never laughed, smiled, or danced at a wedding. Those things were heresy because Jesus was the Son of God, and all I knew was a stern, judgmental God. Yes, He loved me, but He loved me from far away, and He was always ready to send me to hell for messing up, and somewhere out there in the heavens was a lightning bolt with my name on it.
That perception changed as I grew in my faith, and I began to realize that God loved me more than I could ever imagine, but I kept messing up, and in my mind, still, was that image of the judgmental and disappointed God that could never fully love me after all I had done.
Late last year and early this year, I began to watch The Chosen, and it surprised me. This story about Jesus and how He chose His disciples, and how people were drawn to Him made me rethink that image that had been burned into my brain throughout my life.
I saw Jesus smile and laugh and dance. He was often weary and needed to rest. He was hungry, and He was thirsty- He was almost human. I say that lightly because He took human form to be with us, to show us the road to salvation, but He was, and is, and always will be, God.
One of the pivotal scenes in The Chosen made me ugly cry. It changed something in my heart. Let me try to set the scene for you- briefly, if possible.
Mary Magdalene, as we know from the Bible, was a follower of Christ. Jesus delivered her from the possession of devils, and she was considered a prostitute. Perhaps she gambled and drank with men in the dark rooms of Galilee- she was a fallen woman, and Jesus turned her life around. He offered her salvation, and she followed Him faithfully upon her acceptance of this tremendous gift.
Something happens to Mary Magdalene when a stranger, possessed by demons, enters the camp of Jesus and the disciples, and she walks away from the base back into the city, where she resumes her old life. Two disciples are sent by Jesus to find Mary and bring her back. When the disciples find her, she is broken in her spirit because she walked away from the love of God and returned to sin.
How many times do we do that?
Jesus asks the disciples to bring Mary to His tent, and instead of scolding her and preaching to her, He welcomes her back with love, mercy, and grace. Of course, she is ashamed and unworthy to even be in His presence. She says she has nothing to give Him, no reason or explanation for her sin. But Jesus tells her to look at Him, His face full of love- and says to her that all His Father wants is her heart.
So different from the Jesus I grew up with- so different from the parents and friends I grew up with. So different in how I treat myself after doing stupid things and making mind-blowing mistakes. I still expect thunderbolts.
If I could ask Mary Magdalene one question would be ‘how did you feel in that moment?”
She would probably say she felt loved more than she had ever had in her entire life.
I don’t know if this moment ever really happened, and it does not matter.
What matters is I saw Jesus forgive and Jesus love- not condemn.
How would you feel at that moment?