Following the Subplots of The Chosen (Season 2, Episode 4: The Perfect Opportunity)

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 to 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 fourth episode, entitled “The Perfect Opportunity.”

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***

Simon son of Jonah, John son of Zebedee, and Matthew

On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Simon son of Jonah, John son of Zebedee, and Matthew all assist Jesus and the disciple group with preparing their tabernacle for the upcoming Feast of Tabernacles. Simon continually wants everything to be organized while Matthew is striving to fit in by lightening up and not focusing so much on semantics. Simon and John seem less hostile toward Matthew after the conflict outside Syria. When asked about why women don’t always go to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, Simon explains that the journey was difficult for the vulnerable but that he had always gone to the holy city with Eden for this feast.

While Nathanael and Thomas are gathering supplies for the Shabbat meal, they see Shmuel preaching in a square, not knowing who he is. Matthew warns the two disciples about the Pharisee and what he had done in Capernaum.

After the Shabbat meal, Simon and John warn Jesus that Shmuel was spotted in Jerusalem preaching about false prophecy. The Lord says that this is a good thing because He’s going to see someone in the city on the following day. Christ invites Simon and John along and tell them to also invite Matthew. Simon and John aren’t thrilled about asking Matthew but do so anyway.

On the way into the city, Jesus reveals that they’ll be going to the Bethesda Pool, which draws skepticism from Simon and John. The group explains to Matthew that this pool is the site of a pagan cult who believes that an angel stirs up the waters such that the first person to touch the bubbling water will be healed of their ailments. After going through the checkpoint, the Lord leads the three disciples to the forum that surrounds the Bethesda Pool. Christ heads straight to where Jesse is lying on the ground, saying that Jesse has been there the longest.

Simon, John, and Matthew watch as Jesus asks Jesse if he wants to be healed. The Lord and the crippled man have a conversation about false hopes and about how the pool is not what Jesse needs. In the end, Jesse agrees that he wants to be healed, and the three disciples witness Christ take away Jesse’s paralysis and tell the man to pick up his mat and walk. John writes down the event, and after Jesus leaves, Simon reminds Jesse to pick up his mat and walk because he won’t be coming back to the pool and because everything is different now. Then, Simon leaves just as Yanni approaches Jesse, accusing the former paralytic of doing work on the Sabbath by picking up his mat. John explains to Matthew that the oral tradition of the Torah adds rules like this to the actual Torah. John berates Yanni for not paying any attention to the miracle before Matthew silently encourages John to leave with him.

As they leave Jerusalem, Simon thanks the Lord for letting him see the healing, and John seems excited about getting under the Pharisees’ skin. Matthew asks Christ why He didn’t wait thirty more minutes for Shabbat to be over to heal Jesse, and Jesus informs the three disciples that sometimes, you have to stir up the water.

Andrew, Mary Magdalene, Big James, Thaddeus, Little James, Thomas, Ramah, Phillip, Nathanael, and Mary Mother

At the Shabbat meal, Andrew remembers one of the Torah passages that was typically read during the Feast of Tabernacles although Simon does not.

While preparing for the Feast of Tabernacles, Mary Magdalene shares that she had never been to the Feast of Tabernacles but that her father had always gone. Mary also wants to know why women weren’t typically invited, and Simon explains that the journey was usually considered to be too difficult. During the Shabbat meal, Mary Magdalene remarks about how the thatched roof of the booth reminds her of her days on the streets and makes her feel protected.

During the Shabbat meal, Big James asks Jesus why the prophet Zechariah prophesied about Gentiles eating at the Feast of Tabernacles. Big James complains that it was the people of God who wandered in the wilderness, so other nations wouldn’t fully appreciate the meaning of the feast. However, the Lord says that everyone wandered in the wilderness from time to time.

Thaddeus assists the group with the construction of the tabernacle and explains a few aspects of the Jewish feast to Matthew.

Little James has no substantial scenes in this episode.

Thomas accompanies Nathanael into Jerusalem to gather supplies for the Shabbat meal. However, Thomas clashes with Nathanael as Thomas doesn’t like Nathanael’s direct nature. Thomas is also annoyed by Matthew’s behavior and Nathanael’s assessment that Thomas and Matthew are almost the same person. Further, Thomas resents Nathanael for exposing Thomas’ desire to impress Ramah.

Ramah has no substantial scenes in this episode.

Phillip works alongside Matthew as they assist with building the tabernacle. Phillip silently encourages Matthew when he sees that Matthew is trying to avoid being overly analytical about everything.

Nathanael takes the lead with the construction of the tabernacle since he drew up the plans for it. While in the city, Nathanael informs Thomas that Thomas shouldn’t eat a pomegranate without washing his hands, especially if Thomas wants to impress Ramah. Nathanael also points out that Thomas and Matthew are both very analytical. Nathanael does not seem bothered by Matthew like others are. During the Shabbat meal, Christ congratulates Nathanael for his craftsmanship in designing the tabernacle.

During the Shabbat meal, Mary Mother shares with the disciples group that the thatched roofs of the tabernacles were to remind the Hebrews of their dependence on God. Mary also asserts, in response to the collective belief that prophecies about Jews and Gentiles coexisting were impossible, that she knew a thing or two about impossible prophecies.

Simon son of Zebulon, Jesse, and the Order of Zealots

Simon and Jesse, sons of Zebulun, grew up as very close brothers. After Jesse was injured from falling out of a tree, his parents were unsuccessful in helping Jesse to walk again. Jesse’s biological mother died giving birth to Simon, and Jesse took care of his younger brother when Simon was an infant. However, their father, Zebulon, eventually remarried. When Simon was older, he switched roles with his paralyzed brother, taking care of Jesse. One day, Simon, angered by the cruelty of Rome, joined a group of zealots who were bent on bringing down the Roman rule and instituting pure Judaism. After leaving a note, Simon began training with the zealots at a remote location.

Later, Jesse began living by the Pool of Bethesda, which was the property of a pagan cult made up of adherents who believed that whoever touched the fountain first when the water bubbled would be healed of their ailment. However, Jesse was never able to get to the water when it stirred because others always pushed ahead of him. For twenty-five years, during which Zebulon died, Simon lived and worked with the zealots while Jesse languished by the poolside, eventually giving up on a chance to be healed.

In the present timeline, Simon son of Zebulon prepares to join zealots in Jerusalem, collaborating with them in an assassination attempt of Rufus, a Roman magistrate in the Jerusalem area. By this time, Simon has received great honor from the zealot leaders and established a strong reputation among the group. However, if Simon was to either succeed with the assassination attempt or die.

The leader of the zealot order had told the zealot rabbi that someone had to assassinate Rufus because of the magistrate’s connection to Caiaphas, the high priest, who the zealots believed to be corrupted by Rome. The rabbi had recommended Simon for the job.

On the way out of the zealot catacombs, Simon son of Zebulon is reminded of a prophecy from Zephaniah about the day when Israel would be purified and when the lame would walk. Along the path leading to the entrance of Jerusalem, Simon sees men being crucified by Roman soldiers and becomes uneasy when he’s searched at the city gate. Simon tells Linus, the soldier who’s questioning him, that he’s early for the Feast of Tabernacles because he’s visiting family. After Simon inquires, Linus informs Simon that the men were being crucified for murder.

Later, after going over the plans for the assassination attempt with the Jerusalem zealots, on the temple steps Simon son of Zebulon hears someone reading the prophecy of Zephaniah about Israel being purified and the lame walking. Looking out at the dead bodies on the crosses outside the city walls, Simon ponders his pending crime. This seems to prompt Simon to visit his brother at the Pool of Bethesda.

Jesse had previously indicated to one of his fellow invalids that he wasn’t sure why he still was by the pool, and when Simon visits his brother, Jesse can’t believe it’s actually Simon. The two brothers discuss their justifications for their chosen paths in life with each brother criticizing the other’s choices. Simon thinks that Jesse has given up and is following a cult while Jesse believes that Simon is breaking the law by working with the zealots. Simon is discouraged the Jesse seems so hopeless now and informs his older brother that he’ll be in the upper city on a mission for the zealots. Jesse, visibly frustrated and distraught, produces the notes that Simon had left him when Simon joined the zealots. This note includes the prophecy from Zephaniah that Simon previously heard at the zealot headquarters and on the temple steps. Simon’s note concluded with a statement that he would know that the Messiah had come when he saw Jesse walking, and as Simon leaves, he tells his brother that he stands by this statement.

Jesse falls into a depression after Simon’s visit, so when Jesus arrives at the pool, Jesse doesn’t really want to talk. However, Jesse agrees to answer the Lord’s questions, thinking that He will help Jesse to get into the pool. When Christ says that Jesse needs Him rather than the pool, Jesse is ambivalent but silently agrees that he wants to be healed. Thus, Jesse stands up when Jesus tells him to do so and picks up his mat when Simon son of Jonah reminds Jesse to do so. When Yanni challenges Jesse for doing work on the Sabbath, Jesse is too excited to care and simply says that he’s standing on two feet. After the Lord and His disciples leave, Jesse tells Yanni that he needs to leave to find his brother. On the way to the upper city, Jesse runs into someone as he seems unsure of walking.

In the upper city, Simon son of Zebulon is preparing to execute the assassination attempt along with several other zealots. The distractions are put in place, but as Simon is about to pull out his knife, he sees Jesse pass by out of the corner of his eye. Distracted by this, Simon abandons the plan and follows his brother, prompting the other zealots to scatter. Simon finds Jesse around another alleyway, and Jesse dances as Simon looks in wonder at his brother’s healing. The two brothers embrace, and Jesse points Simon in the direction of where he thought Jesus had gone.

Shmuel and Yanni

In Jerusalem, Shmuel is being trained by Yanni to speak about Pharisaic teachings in a poor district. Yanni, however, doesn’t want to be around the poor and quickly leaves once Shmuel has found something to stand on during his speech. Shmuel eventually teaches a crowd of people about how many false prophets would be coming to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, which was why they needed to be on alert.

At the Pool of Bethesda with other Pharisees, Yanni witnesses the Lord heal Jesse. After Christ leaves, Yanni accuses Jesse of picking up his mat on Shabbat, which constituted as doing work on the holy day. Yanni then interrogates Jesse about Jesus, and when Jesse says that he doesn’t know the Lord’s name, Yanni says that this was very typical of a false prophet who performed magic tricks on Shabbat, thus causing people to sin.

Later, Yanni rushes to tell Shmuel what he witnessed, and Shmuel appears to understand what’s happening.

Atticus, Pretorius, and the Romans

Atticus, a member of the Cohortes Urbanae, the Roman secret police, begins watching Simon son of Zebulun while Simon practices an assassination attempt. Atticus goes ahead of Simon to Jerusalem and sees Simon check in at the city gate. Recognizing Simon’s ruse, Atticus reprimands Linus for not being more suspicious of Simon before beginning to follow Simon through the city. Atticus watches Simon as Simon uses secret passageways to meet with zealots in Jerusalem, but Atticus frequently loses track of Simon due to the confusing alleyways.

Later, Atticus meets with Pretorius, an associate of Rufus, a Roman magistrate of Jerusalem. Pretorius seems unwilling to meet in public, and Atticus chastises the official for being dressed so conspicuously. Then, Atticus reveals that he suspects that a trained zealot assassin was planning to attempt to assassinate Rufus on Shabbat due to the predictable nature of Rufus’ schedule. Pretorius insists that the scheduling is out of his hands, so Atticus decides to present a plan to Rufus: Atticus should pose as Rufus on Shabbat so that Simon would attempt to kill Atticus, who could use his skills to turn the tables and kill Simon instead. Pretorius doesn’t think that Rufus or Rufus’ wife will agree with the plan, but Atticus is confident that the government official will.

Atticus proves to be right, so he disguises himself as Rufus on Shabbat, keeping his eyes pealed for Simon. However, when Simon is distracted by Jesse, Atticus takes notice and watches the two brothers embrace. Atticus is ready to kill Simon, but the zealot leaves before anything can happen.

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