The Chosen has been a transformational series, and it’s now in its second season Its audience has exploded in the past year and only has more potential to grow. As the first multi-season Bible series to be created, it has the potential reach beyond traditional Christian audiences and transform the culture both inside and outside the church. The series’ connections with real people in a Jewish cultural context as they encounter the Messiah are its biggest assets, so here’s a helpful guide to help keep up with the core subplots we saw in the second season’s first episode, entitled “Thunder.”
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***
Simon and Andrew
Continuing his trend from the second half of Season 1, Simon tries to assert himself as an authority over the other disciples, insisting that he cares the most about protecting Jesus. This attitude prompts jealously toward and competition with the sons of Zebedee, especially when Jesus seems to give Big James and John special privileges. Andrew vacillates between supporting his brother in the “competition” with Zebedee’s sons and trying to mediate a truce between the two parties. Simon believes that Jesus needs to set the agenda for the group while Big James and John want to decide how things will go. Also, Andrew tries to make Matthew feel more welcome in the group.
Big James and John
When Jesus gives the two brothers special assignments to plow a field and lead the other disciples in purchasing supplies for a meal, Big James and John become overconfident in their abilities and their seemingly new position in the disciple group. Maintaining their hatred of Samaritans, the sons of Zebedee believe that they should have more power in the group of followers and want to organize a detailed itinerary for their Rabbi. However, Big James and John are disappointed when they discover that they plowed the field and gathered food for a disabled Samaritan and his family.
Additionally, Zebedee’s sons are infuriated when they are mistreated by some Samaritan passersby. The two brothers, emboldened by a statement from Jesus about being given power, demand that the Lord allow Big James and John to call down fire on the people who had mistreated them. Christ reprimands the two brothers by reminding them that they are not better than the Samaritans and that the work they were accomplishing in Sychar would last generations. Jesus told the sons of Zebedee that the people of Sychar were believing in the message of the kingdom of heaven without even seeing miracles and that it was important for Big James and John to be leaders among the disciples by not allowing their tempers to carry them away. After the two brothers admit their wrongdoing, the Lord called them the Sons of Thunder because of their high-strung attitudes that could be used for good but would need to be controlled before they received powerful authority from heaven.
Later, Christ has a private meeting with John in the Torah Room of the Sychar synagogue, asking for John’s opinion on what passage to read. John says that he always liked the very beginning of Genesis when God made the heavens and the earth, so Jesus choose this passage to read to the people.
Matthew continues to be socially isolated from the other disciples, with the exceptions of Mary Magdalene and Andrew. However, Matthew tries to assert himself as useful by calculating how long it would take to reach every person in Sychar. Matthew also keeps careful track of the disciples’ monetary funds, worrying that they will not have enough for the future. Further, Matthew sides with Big James and John, although they do not particularly like him, supporting their proposal to have a detailed schedule for Jesus’ ministry. In their first encounter, Matthew and Thomas do not hit it off very well.
Mary Magdalene, Thaddeus, and Little James
Mary Magdalene disliked the the conflict between the sons of Jonah and the sons of Zebedee, purposely staying out of their discussions. Thaddeus and Little James were mostly quiet about the tension but tried to find simple solutions for it. Mary Magdalene did her best to make Matthew feel welcome in the group and also tried to help Thomas and Ramah settle in comfortably.
Thomas and Ramah
Thomas and Ramah made their way to Sychar with Ramah’s reluctant father, Kaphni, to join the main disciple group. Thomas and Ramah tried to awkwardly accommodate Kaphni as he consistently criticized the two of them for their decision to leave their jobs behind and follow Jesus. Once in Sychar, Kaphni demanded an audience with the Lord, and Thomas began posturing for an important position among the disciples. However, despite wanting to make a schedule for Christ to follow, Thomas chose to stay out of the conflict between the sons of Jonah and the sons of Zebedee.
After continuing to reprimand Thomas and Ramah for wanting to follow Jesus into the unknown, Kaphni tells the Lord that he only came because of the wedding miracle that Thomas and Ramah had described to him. Although Kaphni believed that talk of miracles was blasphemy, he was still grateful for what Christ had done but refused to acknowledge anything further. Jesus told Kaphni that He understood why Kaphni was concerned and wouldn’t ask anything of him. After giving Ramah some money and telling Thomas that he wasn’t sure if he would agree with Thomas and Ramah marrying in the future, Kaphni left them on uncertain terms. After Kaphni’s departure, Thomas and Ramah were more subdued in group settings.
Photina, Neriah, and the Citizens of Sychar
Photina continues to gather the Samaritans who live in Sychar so that they can hear Jesus preach. Many citizens are opening to and excited about the teaching. Neriah listens to the Lord tell how God will leave ninety-nine righteous people to find one lost sinner, and this changes Neriah’s heart. As a result, Photina and Neriah later invite Christ and His disciples to stay in their large house. Later, Photina and Neriah go to the local synagogue to hear Jesus read from Genesis.
Photina also introduces the Lord to Melech, whose field the Sons of Thunder plowed. Christ and His disciples bring food to share a meal with Melech and his family, who are very poor. Melech’s leg is paralyzed from an unhealed broken bone, and after some conversation, Jesus encourages Melech to share the story behind the injury. Melech reveals that he broke it while trying to rob a Jewish traveler who was passing through the area. Melech is ashamed of this and doesn’t understand why the Lord would help him, but Christ says that God leaves ninety-nine righteous people behind to find one lost sinner. Before leaving, Jesus encourages Melech to regularly visit the synagogue and learn what he can. That night, the Lord heals Melech’s leg while Melech was sleeping. The next day, Melech and his family come to the synagogue to hear Christ’s reading.
The Disciples in the Future
Simon, Andrew, Thomas, Nathanael, Thaddeus, Little James, Matthew, Mary Magdalene, and Mary Mother are shown at a future point in time, right after the martyrdom of Big James. John son of Zebedee is interviewing these disciples to get their accounts of when they first met Jesus. However, John is struggling with how to begin his gospel, which he dialogues with Mary Mother about. Mary Mother wants John to wait and mourn his brother’s death, but John insists on writing it down before everyone gets too old. Matthew says that he will write a precise gospel. In the end, John decides to introduce his gospel with a writing based on the opening words of Genesis, which he was reminded of by his memory of the Lord’s reading in the Sychar synagogue.
My wife Patricia and I started season 1 (episodes 1-3) on Wednesday night! We loved it! Last night we watched 1:4-1:8 and even though it was 2am we watched the first episode of Season 2.
This brings the Gospels to life as no other media representation ever has! We joined the Catholic Church in 2002 and have just restarted Mass since Covid. Thank you very much for taking on this marvelous effort!