Following the Subplots of The Chosen (Season 2, Episode 8: Beyond Mountains)

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 final episode, entitled “Beyond Mountains.”

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***

Jesus and Matthew

In the days leading up the sermon event, Jesus and Matthew meet early in the morning so that Jesus can dictate parts of the sermon to Matthew. Once most of the sermon is written, Jesus asks for Matthew’s opinion, so Matthew says that it seems like that the sermon is full of ominous pronouncements, lending a few examples. As a result, Jesus and Matthew have a dialogue about how Jesus did not come to maintain the status quo or initiate a revolt but to start a revolution so that the Jewish people could participate in the healing of the world. Matthew believes that some of the rules in the sermon are impossible while others are not presented plainly. Jesus says that He’s using metaphor like Solomon did because He wants truly committed followers to peer deeply into His teachings, thus weeding out passive observers.

Throughout their talks, Jesus continues walking over to a cliff that oversees the disciples’ camp. He makes remarks about what His students are doing, and Matthew wonders if the students can get along while they are handing out notices about the upcoming sermon. Jesus says that conflict is expected during the trying times in which they lived, especially since He was building something new that was open to all people from various walks of life.

Previously, Matthew had said that he thought the the opening of the sermon needed more, and Jesus agreed with him. Thus, Jesus said that He needed some time to work out the beginning. After meeting with and praying to the Father, Jesus wakes up Matthew at night, saying that He has the beginning of the sermon, which will be a map. Matthew asks what kind of map, and Jesus says that it’s a map of where His followers can be found. Then, Jesus proceeds to give the Beatitudes to Matthew.

Simon son of Jonah, Andrew, John son of Zebedee, Big James, Philip, Thomas, and Simon son of Zebulon

As Simon son of Jonah, Andrew, John son of Zebedee, and Big James do various tasks around camp, Andrew is still worried about everything, and his brother makes veiled comments about this. Big James is annoyed that Jesus keeps giving Matthew extra attention, but Simon son of Jonah seems to defend Matthew, which frustrates everyone. Simon son of Zebulon says that Jesus and Matthew have been up early every morning. John son of Zebedee takes issue with how Simon son of Zebulon seems to value physical health over spiritual health, but the former zealot is nonplussed about this.

Philip and Thomas stay out of the conflict as they bring food that they had foraged. Thomas makes a point to tell Tamar that he specifically found apricots for Ramah instead of the apples that Philip had gotten. Thomas wants Tamar to tell Ramah this fact.

Later, as the group worries about no one showing up for the sermon, Simon son of Jonah, along with the women, tries to calm everyone down. Thomas think he’s doing everything wrong but is silenced by Ramah praising his work. At the sermon, Philip, Big James, Simon son of Zebulon, and John son of Zebedee help with crowd control. This is where John reunites with his parents.

Nathanael, Thaddeus, and Little James

Jesus’ mission for Nathanael, Thaddeus, and Little James is for these three disciples to secure a location for the sermon. Jesus gave them exact specifications to look for in the prospective land, but when they arrive at where Thaddeus believes the location to be, a goatherder tells them to go away. Thus, the three disciples schedule a meeting with the landowner at a public house.

However, landowner is not enthused about many people coming on his land, and he doesn’t think that Nathanael, Thaddeus or Little James are good at negotiation or have convincing arguments for why he should donate the use of his land. The three disciples appear to be losing their case before the businessman steps in. Later, Nathanael and Thaddeus help design and construct the stage that Jesus would later use to begin the sermon.

Mary Magdalene, Ramah, Mary Mother, Tamar, and Eden

As Mary Magdalene copies notices for the sermon that the disciples would later hand out, she helps Ramah finish reading Psalm 139. When Ramah makes mistakes, Mary corrects the errors from memory, which prompts Ramah to ask Mary how she knows the entire Psalm. Mary says that she has to have tools so that she doesn’t fall back into problems but doesn’t want to talk any further when Ramah tries to console her. As Ramah keeps practicing, Mary seems to sadly contemplate the meaning of the fact that God knew what she was going to do before she was born.

In another tent, Tamar and Mary Mother prepare for the day, and Tamar wants to know if she’s required to learn how to read. Mary Mother explains that it’s optional and that Ramah just wanted to keep up. Later, Tamar takes Thomas’ apricots to Ramah and seems to pick up on the potential romance between Thomas and Ramah.

Just before Jesus is ready to go out onto the stage for the sermon, Mary Magdalene, Ramah, Mary Mother, and Tamar magically produce four different colored sashes and try to convince Jesus to wear one of them even though the Son of Man (and some audience members) couldn’t care less. The four women are split 2-2 on what color Jesus should wear, so Jesus asks Eden to break the tie. Previously, Eden had showed up for the sermon and reunited with her husband.

Just before the sermon, Jesus and Mary Mother have a private moment in which they discuss how they wish that Joseph was there to witness Jesus’ earthly ministry.

Shmuel, Yanni, Shammai, Quintus, Atticus, and Gaius

Using the testimonies of Madai and Lamech, Shmuel and Yanni finally gain an audience with Shammai, the leader of the legalistic sect of Pharisees in the Sanhedrin. Shammai is beside himself with excitement about the opportunity to get back at his rival, Shimon. Shmuel and Yanni share various things that they learned about Jesus’ revolutionary activies, but Shammai wants more than just facts. The elder Pharisee wants to use rumors and conjecture to stir up trouble when the time is right so that Shimon can be politically damaged for not dealing with Jesus sooner. Shammai expects Jesus to become more popular and wants to wait until this happens before exposing the fact that Shimon did nothing when Jesus was still virtually unknown. However, Shammai wants everything documented beforehand and plans to stoke his followers with Shabbat sermons about Jesus.

Throughout the conversation, Shmuel seems uncomfortable with some of Shammai’s methods and comments, such as derogatory remarks about Nicodemus, but Yanni silences Shmuel because Yanni is salivating over the opportunity for political advancement. As such, Yanni fully agrees to Shammai’s terms and plans.

When Quintus receives a notice about Jesus’ sermon event, the praetor is not happy. Atticus seems to be amused at this, and Gaius feigns innocence. In the end, Atticus and Gaius join the sermon crowd to watch and wait.

Judas and the Businessman

Judas is the apprentice of an unnamed businessman, and they begin their day by running a con on an elderly landowner. The businessman discovered that there was a hidden salt mine on the older man’s property, so the businessman and Judas schemed to buy the land for cheaper than it was worth under the guise of digging graves for middle class Jews. However, the elderly man is skeptical of their offer and hesitant to give up the land that has been in his family for many generations because the land is a piece of the promised land. Nonetheless, the businessman is uninterested in sentiment and only increases his offer buy a small amount. When the elderly man continues to probe about why the two men are so desperate for the land, Judas pretends to care about the elderly man, which softens the older man enough to accept the businessman’s low offer.

Later, the businessman celebrates the success of their scam, saying that they will be set up like kings for the rest of their lives. However, Judas is frustrated about how they conned the older man out of valuable land and is disillusioned to what the purpose of money is if one cannot make a lasting difference in the world. The businessman tries to brush Judas’ concerns aside by saying that more money means that they can devote themselves more to God, but Judas is worried about growing scales on his eyes. In the end, the businessman gives Judas an advance on the sale of the land, and this causes Judas to perk up.

While Nathanael, Little James, and Thaddeus are in the public house trying to convince the owner of the land that they want to use for the sermon to let them use the land, the businessman overhears the conversation and decides to show off his negotiating skills. When the land deal is about to fall through, the businessman steps in to convince the landowner that the products that come from his land could be associated with the success of the miracle worker’s ministry, which eventually convinces the landowner to let the disciples use the land.

The businessman and Judas leave the public house before the disciples can thank them for helping, and on the way out, the businessman gloats to Judas about how they can use these negotiating skills to influence many people. The businessman also says that he’s interested in hearing from Jesus of Nazareth, and Judas is excited about the idea of going to the sermon, so the businessman agrees to go.

At the sermon, the businessman salivates over the number of people who are attending the event and immediately tries to assert himself as a helper for the disciples who are directing the crowds. After the businessman leaves, Judas runs into Barnaby, who insists that he can take Judas to see Jesus. However, Judas becomes confused after Barnaby goes a different way from the crowds but follows anyway. Eventually, Barnaby leads Judas right to where the disciples are waiting for Jesus, and Nathanael recognizes Judas. Nathanael thanks Judas for his help in getting the land and introduces Judas to Simon son of Jonah. Later, Judas watches in anticipation as Jesus goes out onto the stage.

Barnaby, Shula, Zebedee, and Salome

Barnaby and Shula attend the sermon event and end up bumping into Judas. Barnaby says that he can take Judas to Jesus and proceeds to go the opposite direction of the others, saying that he wants to meet some old friends. When Barnaby calls the event “a show,” Shula corrects Barnaby, saying that it’s not a show even though this fact is debatable. Barnaby and Shula end up sneaking behind the curtains that are hiding the disciples from the waiting crowds, and the two from Capernaum reunite with their old friends.

Zebedee and Salome also attend the sermon event, which is where they reunite with their younger son. Zebedee pretends to cause trouble while Salome playfully chastises her husband. Salome is concerned that her son John is not eating enough.

Following the Subplots of The Chosen (Season 2, Episode 7: Reckoning)

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 seventh episode, entitled “Reckoning.”

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***

Simon son of Jonah, Andrew, Big James, and John son of Zebedee

After Jesus sends the sons of Jonah and the sons of Zebedee on a quest to catch enough fish to feed the group, the two sets of brothers decide to have a competition to decide who will do the work. Andrew is on edge, but the others want to have some fun. However, Andrew insists that they need to obey Jesus, or bad things will happen. The three other men brush this off and go through with the contest, which leads to the Sons of Thunder winning, leaving the sons of Jonah to fish.

John son of Zebedee and Big James rejoin some of the others who are listening to Jesus as He shares information about the upcoming sermon. As soon as the sons of Zebedee arrive, Jesus asks them if they won a competition, which the Sons of Thunder affirm. Later, when Gauis and Atticus, along with their detachment, come to detain Jesus for questioning, John and Big James try to defend Jesus, but Jesus instructs them to drop their weapons and step back. The two brothers reluctantly do this and helplessly watch as Jesus is taken away.

Previously, Simon son of Jonah and Andrew had been arguing while they were fishing. Their conflict ranged from Jesus drawing too much attention to Himself by angering the Pharisees and Romans to how Mary Magdalene hurt the group with her temporary backslide. Simon is more cool than usual and tries to encourage his brother to embrace what’s happened and to not be so hard on Mary Magdalene. However, Andrew is extremely on edge about everything that’s happened because of the recent arrest of John the Baptizer.

The two brothers put their argument on hold to fish, but their silence is interrupted by Simon noticing Gaius’ detachment of soldiers approaching Jesus on the shoreline. Simon tries to calm Andrew before his brother sees the Roman troops, but it’s too late. Andrew flips out and the sons of Jonah scramble to get back to shore. However, by the time they arrive back at camp, Jesus is already gone. Simon and Andrew accuse the group of not doing enough to stop the detainment, but some of the disciples tell them what Jesus said about coming back. This fact seems to calm Simon son of Jonah, but Andrew is inconsolable as he angrily tells the others that they’re not doing enough. Andrew also goes off on Mary Magdalene, blaming her for the problems of the day, before storming off to find Jesus.

Andrew is joined by Philip in his quest to save Jesus since Andrew could not save John the Baptizer. They make their way to Jotapata to see if Jesus is at the local jail, but Andrew becomes distracted by Tamar and Ethan, who are preaching about Jesus to a crowd of protesters. Andrew freaks out again because he thinks that they are drawing too much attention to Jesus, which is why he drags Tamar and Ethan away from the crowd to tell them this.

While Philip checks out the jail, Andrew explains what’s going on, and Tamar doesn’t want to be silent until Yussif comes to warn Tamar about Shmuel and Yanni looking for her. This prompts Ethan to decide to lay low for awhile and Tamar to ask Andrew if she can follow Jesus, which Andrew reluctantly agrees to.

Later, after Jesus returns to the camp, Simon son of Jonah asks the Rabbi to teach the group to pray like He does, which Jesus agrees to do.

Mary Magdalene, Mary Mother, Ramah, Nathanael, Philip, Simon son of Zebulon, Thomas, Thaddeus, and Little James

When Jesus is detained by the Roman detachment, Mary Mother is visibly affected by this event. Nathanael tries to protect and help her during this. Later, Mary Magdalene and Ramah also provide comfort to Mary Mother. As the group argues about what to do regarding Jesus’ detainment, Mary Magdalene, Ramah, Mary Mother, Nathanael, Thaddeus, and Little James all firmly believe that they need to trust what Jesus said about His coming back. However, Simon son of Zebulon asserts that Jesus could have been speaking in code, trying to let the group know that they needed to break Him out of jail. Nathanael takes issue with this interpretation, saying that zealots are always looking for codes and riddles in plain speech.

Mary Magdalene offers to help Andrew find Jesus. However, when Andrew accuses Mary Magdalene of being responsible, she apologizes for her mistake and insists that she will wait and hold on to what Jesus said. Mary Mother becomes afraid when there’s talk of imprisonment, and Ramah and Matthew come to the defense of Mary Magdalene. After Andrew storms away, Philip tells Mary Magdalene that he will go with Andrew because he has experience waiting for a rabbi outside of jails.

In Jotapata, Philip helps to calm Andrew and checks the jail, finding nothing. Philip returns to find Andrew talking to Tamar, Ethan, and Yussif but is confused about what’s going on.

After Jesus returns to the camp, the entire group of disciples is glad to see Him, and He tells them that He had already promised to return. The sons of Zebedee agree that they need to do better and want to know what type of prayer they can pray like John the Baptizer taught his disciples. Jesus congratulates His followers for behaving like true students by asking questions and begins to teach them the Lord’s prayer.

Later, Jesus awakes Matthew early in the morning to begin organizing Jesus’ thoughts for the upcoming sermon.

Shmuel, Yanni, Yussif, Madai, and Lamech

Shmuel returns to Capernaum with Yanni and is greeted by Yussif, who appears excited to hear about Shmuel’s work in Jerusalem. However, Shmuel is more interested in tracking down Tamar to see if he can find the leper who Jesus healed so that Shmuel can determine where this took place on the Sabbath. Yussif is quietly suspicious of this endeavor but tries to conceal this. Yanni seems wary of Yussif because of Yussif’s veiled attitude. Eventually, Yussif tells Shmuel that an informant told him that Tamar was seen preaching in Jotapata, which draws ire from Shmuel.

Before heading to Jotapata, Shmuel and Yanni visit Quintus’ office but are stonewalled by the clerk and attending soldier. Quintus’ office is not interested in outdated intel about Jesus being in Jerusalem because they are more concerned about his affiliation with the Zealot Order of the Fourth Philosophy. In the end, Shmuel and Yanni are run out of the office because Rome has no time for them.

In Jotapata, Shmuel and Yanni are unable to talk to the Pharisees who are standing around on the street praying because these Pharisees will not interrupt their rituals. Thus, Shmuel and Yanni are forced to pay a beggar for information about where Tamar is, which she gives to them. However, Yussif, in disguise, reaches Tamar first to warn her of the plans of his colleagues.

While Shmuel and Yanni are searching for Tamar, they find the group of pilgrims to whom Tamar was preaching. However, Tamar is nowhere to be found, but before they can look for her, Shmuel and Yanni are interrupted by Madai and Lamech, who overheard Shmuel and Yanni discussing Jesus. The two pairs of Pharisees compare notes about what they’ve seen Jesus do.

Atticus, Quintus, and Gaius

Once Atticus enter Capernaum, he sees one of the notices that Quintus had put up regarding reporting the whereabouts of Jesus of Nazareth to Quintus’ office. Atticus takes the notice to Quintus’ office and demands an audience. The clerk gives Atticus trouble at first but admits Atticus when he discovers that Atticus is a member of the Cohortes Urbanae. Once with Quintus, Atticus demands that Quintus do something about Jesus based on the evidence that Atticus provides.

Thus, Quintus instructs Gaius to lead a detachment of Roman soldiers to detain Jesus for questioning. Atticus tags along with a cagey motive that Gaius doesn’t buy. After prodding from Gaius, Atticus reveals that he’s both perplexed and scared by Jesus because Jesus doesn’t seem scary and has seemingly accomplished amazing things. Throughout the course of the conversation, Atticus also convinces Gaius to go around Jotapata because of the potential danger in that town.

Once Gaius, Atticus, and the detachment arrive at the area around Jesus’ camp, Gaius orders Jesus to come peacefully and to have everyone else step back. When asked if anyone was armed, Jesus said that some of His followers were, which draws aggression from the soldiers. After Jesus calms His students and tells Gaius that Matthew was back at the camp. Gaius pretends to be tough when he remarks that many of the followers seemed underfed, and quietly to Jesus, Gaius says that Matthew was used to eating well and asked Jesus what He had to offer Matthew. When Jesus says that they should talk about it later, Gaius leads Him away with his detachment.

When Gaius brings Jesus to Quintus, Quintus orders Gaius to leave, but Atticus stays in the room. Atticus looks on as Quintus and Jesus have a philosophical conversation about how Jesus has both helped and hurt Quintus’ standing with Rome with impossible feats and annoying situations. Jesus remains calm and collected while Quintus tries to get a rise out of Him. In the end, Quintus can’t find anything to punish Jesus for and lets Him go with a warning to stop causing trouble, which Jesus doesn’t agree to. Quintus also leaves a parting swipe by referencing the arrest of John the Baptizer. After Jesus leaves, Quintus smugly says that the experience was fun, but Atticus is confused as to why Quintus sees no issues with Jesus.

Tamar and Ethan

Tamar and Ethan are preaching about Jesus in Jotapata, sharing with a group of pilgrims about how Ethan was healed of paralysis. Tamar also shares what she saw Jesus do for the leper. The pilgrims want to know where Jesus is and why Tamar is sharing about Him when He told the leper not to do so. Tamar is unsure of Jesus’ whereabouts but says that she cannot remain silent because Jesus never told her to be quiet.

After being interrupted by Andrew, Tamar and Ethan retreat to the alley with Andrew. There, Tamar learns of Jesus’ detainment but is confused as to why she cannot speak of His miracles since she is not part of the Jewish religion. At this point, Yussif appears to warn Tamar of those who are looking for her. Ethan says that they need to lay low, and Tamar tells Andrew that she wants to follow Jesus.

Following the Subplots of The Chosen (Season 2, Episode 6: Unlawful)

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 sixth episode, entitled “Unlawful.”

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***

Simon son of Jonah, Matthew, and Mary Magdalene

Simon son of Jonah and Matthew continued their search for Mary Magdalene in Jericho, sleeping in someone’s stable overnight. In the morning, Matthew is intent on making a plan to find Mary and forgot to stay clean while lying in the hay. Simon takes note of this and also realizes that Matthew has an attraction to Mary as Matthew describes Mary to Simon. Simon appears to soften to Matthew as a result of this. The two men are interrupted by a hungover Roman soldier stumbling by the stable, making comments about having quite a night at a bar called The Nomad. Simon tries to help the solider, but the soldier is obviously prejudiced against Jews. However, Matthew infers from one of the soldier’s comments that The Nomad has stairs, implying that Mary could be there based on what Jesus told him about remembering the verse from Psalm 139.

In The Nomad, Mary Magdalene is getting drunk and gambling on knucklebones. She has turned her one shekel into a pile of shekels, but she is being heavily scrutinized by the rough men at the gambling table. When one of the men, Hohj, is angry about losing all his money, he tries to move toward Mary, but Jethro stops him. Nonetheless, after looking around and remembering what her father told her about what to do when she was scared, Mary abruptly exits the bar, leaving her gambling winnings behind.

Matthew and Simon enter The Nomad later, and Matthew awkwardly asks the crowded room if they had seen someone fitting the description of Mary. Hohj recognizes Mary as Lilith and blames her his losing all his money. After leaving The Nomad, Matthew insists that he and Simon need to split up to cover more ground, but Simon is worried about Matthew getting lost. Matthew says that they have to do what they can to find Mary because it’s important to take her back to Jesus. Simon reluctantly agrees, but just as he’s pointing out directions for Matthew to follow, Mary calls to them from an alleyway.

Mary is sitting in an alley, hungover from being drunk. She wasn’t sure as first if seeing Simon and Matthew was a dream, and the two men rush over to her. They want to help her to return to Jesus, but Mary insists that she’s not going anywhere because Jesus fixed her once and probably couldn’t fix her again. Matthew tells Mary that he’s a bad person and used to live only for himself without any faith. Matthew also reminds Mary of what she contributes to the group and encourages Simon to do the same. Simon reminisces about how Mary helped Tamar bring the paralytic to the roof of Zebedee’s house, and Matthew says that Ramah is learning more about Torah because of Mary. At this point, Mary seems convinced but is interrupted by hangover vomiting. Rather than being repulsed, Matthew takes off his handkerchief to help Mary clean up. Matthew directs Simon to go get water, and Simon does, surprised at what Matthew is doing.

Simon and Matthew lead Mary Magdalene back to the camp of disciples where they are greeted by Ramah and Mary Mother. Mary Magdalene is hesitant to see Jesus, but Mary Mother insists that she needs to see Him immediately. Mary Mother leads Mary Magdalene to Jesus’ tent, where He is sad and praying after the news of John the Baptizer’s arrest. Jesus tells Mary Magdalene that He’s not distraught over her but that there’s a lot going on, which is why it’s good for Mary Magdalene to be back. Mary Magdalene is still inconsolable because she feels like there’s no reason why she should have thrown away what Jesus had given to her. Jesus says that redemption can’t be lost in a day and that He knows how painful Mary’s trauma was for her. Jesus explains that no one can be instantly perfect and that these things take time. Mary, although she apologizes, still isn’t convinced that she can be fixed, so Jesus verbally forgives Mary, which prompts Mary to cling to Him and finally accept His forgiveness.

While Jesus talks to Mary Magdalene, Matthew listens outside the tent. When they had first come in, Simon son of Jonah had learned of the arrest of John the Baptizer and gone to find Andrew, who was freaking out about the situation. Later, after leaving the synagogue of Wadi Kelt, Simon begins to subconsciously pick heads of grain while he excitedly recaps for the group what Jesus had just done. However, when the group stares at Simon’s actions, he realizes that he was doing work on Shabbat and spits out what he had eaten. After Simon apologizes to Jesus for this perceived error, Jesus tells the group that they can eat the heads of grain, so everyone does.

After Simon son of Jonah had picked heads of grain, Matthew had asked Philip what the problem was. Matthew had also asked Philip why Madai and Lamech were so concerned about Jesus’ use of the term “Son of Man.”

Ramah and Mary Mother

As Ramah and Mary Mother forage for food by looking for edible plants, Ramah confides in Mary Mother that she is worried about Mary Magdalene and their whole situation in general. Ramah doesn’t understand why Jesus was allowing all of it to happen, especially since He had the power to make things better. Mary Mother says that she didn’t always understand how her Son worked, but she trusts that because the Father always took care of His children and knew what was best for them, Jesus would do the same. Ramah also reveals that she wants to be a teacher and that Mary Magdalene had been a great help to her.

Later, when Simon son of Jonah and Matthew bring back Mary Magdalene, Ramah and Mary Mother rush to greet Mary Magdalene. Ramah is glad to see her, and Mary Mother gives Mary Magdalene a new head covering. Though Mary Magdalene is hesitant, Mary Mother insists that she needs to go see Jesus. Thus, Mary Mother takes Mary Magdalene to Jesus and stays with her the whole time.

Thomas, Andrew, Thaddeus, Little James, Philip, Nathanael, and Simon son of Zebulon

While Simon son of Jonah and Matthew are gone, Thomas counts the group’s remaining food and confides in Andrew that they do not have enough portions left for everyone to eat for the next meal. However, Andrew is mentally distracted because he thinks that Philip has been gone for too long. Andrew absent-mindedly tells Thomas about how he used to follow John the Baptizer and not always have enough food, but sometimes, they would have too much food, depending on the people who had just been baptized. Thomas thinks that John the Baptizer needed better planning, but Andrew says that John never valued money at all.

When Philip returns, he reveals that John the Baptizer had been imprisoned by Herod for life because of what John had told the king. Andrew becomes distraught over this. Simon son of Zebulon confidently says that they could break John out of prison because Simon knew some people. Philip seems to be interested in this idea for a quick second, but he changes his mind and tells Simon that he’s no longer a zealot. Andrew says that nothing could be worse than John being imprisoned for life.

Thomas interjects in this discussion to share that the situation is worse than they know, saying that things like this never used to happen before he met the other disciples. This leads him to interrupt Jesus’ meeting with Mary Magdalene to tell his Rabbi that the group is running out of food. Jesus tells Thomas that this is the perfect time to ask the Father for what they need, especially with Shabbat coming. Jesus suggests that they go to a nearby synagogue in a small town for the Jewish holy day.

Thaddeus, Little James, and Nathanael do not have any substantial scenes in this episode.

Big James and John son of Zebedee

While they chop wood, the two Sons of Thunder talk about the current state of the group. John son of Zebedee tells his brother, in response to watching Simon son of Zebulon perform his zealot exercises, that he once considered joining the zealots. Big James says that he never knew this, and John implies that the thought was short-lived because he liked his comfortable life with Zebedee and Salome.

When discussing Mary Magdalene and feeling sorry for her, Big James discloses to his brother that he really doesn’t understand everything that’s going on because he’s just following. John says that he has a feeling that, for quite awhile, many in the group won’t understand everything that’s happening.

Shmuel and Yanni

Shmuel and Yanni are able to gain an audience with Shimon’s scribe, Dunash, but this higher-ranking Pharisee is dismissive of the claims that Shmuel and Yanni are bringing forth. Dunash loftily explains that Shimon, the current president of the Sanhedrin, is concerned with helping vulnerable populations and alleviating the burden of the Talmud rather than enforcing the rules of Shabbat. Yanni insists that blasphemy is an important matter, but Dunash berates Yanni as being stuck his lower position because he doesn’t listen. Shmuel insists that the law of God is perfect and doesn’t need to be softened, but Dunash, seemingly bored with the complaints, says that Shimon has no time for disputes over doing work on the Jewish holy day.

Later, Yanni rants about Dunash’s arrogant attitude and put-downs. Shmuel seems defeated and resigned to the matter being over. However, Yanni is ready to fight back, insisting that the situation is far from over because they now needed to go to Shimei, the leader of the opposite school of thought in the Sanhedrin. Yanni firmly believes the Shimei will not overlook the Shabbat violations because he is more stringent and will want a chance to one-up Shimon, who ignored the problems. Yanni and Shmuel agree that more testimony is needed before moving forward, and Shmuel wonders aloud why it took all this.

Madai and Lamech

In the small town of Wadi Kelt, Madai is the synagogue priest while Lamech is the teacher. When Jesus and His disciples come into the synagogue, Lamech is reading regulations from the Torah about who can and cannot enter the assembly of the Lord. Madai immediately notices the large group of people entering the building and stops Lamech from his reading. Lamech demands that Jesus tell them what He’s doing, but Jesus focuses on Elam, a man with a withered hand. Jesus highlights Elam’s infirmity for Madai and Lamech, but they insist that it’s not lawful to heal on Shabbat, which visibly frustrates Jesus. Jesus asks the general room if it was lawful for someone to take care of a lost animal on Shabbat, but Madai and Lamech order for Jesus to be silent and warn Elam that Jesus could be a shaman. Jesus ignores them and once again asks the room if it was lawful to save lives on Shabbat before telling Elam to stretch out his hand. Madai and Lamech insist that Elam’s affliction doesn’t impact his life or health, but Elam’s hand stretching out of his hand leads to its healing as the hand returns to full health. This lights Lamech’s fuse as he screams that God could have healed Elam if the healing was meant to happen. Madai angrily tells Jesus to leave before asking what was wrong with Him. Jesus says that apparently everything is wrong with Him as He and His disciples leave. However, Madai and Lamech suddenly call after them to come back.

Madai and Lamech catch up with the disciple group as they are eating heads of grain, complaining about Jesus making a mockery of their synagogue. They demand to know Jesus’ lineage before getting distracted by the disciples breaking off heads of grain on Shabbat and accusing Jesus of this transgression as well. Jesus reminds them of the time that King David ate the showbread, but Madai asserts that this event was an emergency. When Jesus says that the Levites also do work on shabbat, Lamech challenges Jesus to reveal his lineage to see if He’s from the tribe of Levi, but Jesus ignores this, instead telling the two Pharisees that something greater than the temple had come to them. Jesus chastised the two men for not showing mercy and thus condemning the innocent before telling them that Shabbat was made for man not man for Shabbat, for the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. This statement shocks Madai and Lamech, who are speechless as they watch Jesus and His disciples leave.

Later, Madai and Lamech are beside themselves as they breathlessly pen a report for Jerusalem about the events of the day. Madai laments that Jerusalem never gives them attention since their attention was divided by other matters but that this might might be their chance to be noticed even though they are a small town. Madai says that the best thing thing to do is to file the report, but because it might get lost in the paperwork shuffle, they also should see if they can find any fellow Pharisees to talk to in Jotapata, a nearby town. Lamech agrees that this is a good plan and that they also need to pray for justice.

Ahimalech, Yafa, Abiathar, and David

During the Old Testament period, Ahimalech was a priest in Nob. As his wife Yafa helps him get ready one morning, they discuss an ill family member with Yafa being a pessimist and Ahimalech being an optimist. Later, Ahimalech trains his son Abiathar in the practice of changing out the showbread, replacing the old bread with hot bread. As they do this, Ahimlaech explains to his son that God does not eat the bread, but it is a portion for the priests. The father and son are interrupted by David bursting through the door, so Ahimalech tells Abiathar to run home and tell his eema that all was well.

After Abiathar leaves, Ahimalech asks David why he came alone, and David explained that he was on an errand for the King and needed provision for his men, who were in hiding. David wants the showbread, but Ahimalech says that it’s for the priests, so David invokes a Jewish rule regarding emergency situations. Ahimalech relents, warning David that the men could not eat unless they were pure, and David insisted that they were. Before David leaves, Ahimalech says he doesn’t mind putting himself in danger to help the young man because something great would come through David.

Following the Subplots of The Chosen (Season 2, Episode 5: Spirit)

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 fifth episode, entitled “Spirit.”

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***

Simon son of Jonah, Matthew, and Thomas

While others have gone outside the camp to complete various tasks, Matthew and Thomas are stuck helping each other prepare the meal for the group. Thomas voices his complaints, and Matthew tries to defend himself by saying that Thomas is only frustrated because Matthew was a tax collector. Thomas is sarcastic while Matthew believes himself to be a very humble person. During their spat, the two men are watching Mary Magdalene teach Ramah how to read as the two women sit in a tent. Matthew can tell that Mary is distracted and frustrated, but Thomas is jealous, thinking that Matthew is watching Ramah, which Matthew doesn’t refute.

Matthew and Thomas both hear Caleb, the demon-possessed man, outside the camp. Thomas grabs a knife for defense, so Matthew copies him, grabbing a nearby spoon. The two men rush to Mary Magdalene and Ramah as the two women come out of the tent, having also heard Caleb’s noise. When Caleb jumps out from behind a tent, Thomas and Matthew try to make a show of force, but Mary steps forward, trying to help Caleb get free of his demon. As Mary talks with Caleb, Matthew and Thomas hang back. After Jesus frees Caleb from the demon, Thomas prepares food for the victimized man.

Simon son of Jonah seems wary at the arrival of John the Baptizer but keeps quiet about the situation. After Simon son of Zebulon talks with Jesus, Simon son of Jonah introduces the new disciple to the other disciples. During this exchange, they discover that Mary Magdalene has been missing, so Simon son of Jonah goes to Christ, Who is practicing the Sermon on the Mount. Simon son of Jonah informs his Rabbi about Mary’s disappearance, and Matthew joins them. Simon accuses Matthew of spying, but the Lord tells Simon that Matthew needs to go with Simon to find Mary. Seeing a greater need, Simon relents and agrees. Before they leave, Jesus tells Matthew to keep the verse from Psalm 139 in his thoughts.

Ramah and Mary Magdalene

While picking persimmons for the group, Mary Magdalene is trying to memorize several Jewish prayers as well as the verse that Matthew had given to her and Ramah. However, Mary is distracted by two Roman soldiers who ride up to talk to each other on a nearby path. Mary drops the fruit and accidentally crumples her parchments as she tries to hide in fear.

Later, while trying to teach Ramah how to read, Mary is distracted and frustrated, which she takes out on Ramah when Ramah makes mistakes. After taking a break, Mary apologizes and admits that Ramah was doing fine. Ramah is accepting of Mary’s apology. Mary confesses that she has been frustrated about how she ignored the prayers that she had been holding and chose to hide from the Roman soldiers. Ramah implies that she has been frustrated with the nature of the group’s travels thus far.

As Caleb approaches the camp, Mary is able to sense the presence of demonic activity. She and Ramah go outside the tent to join Thomas and Matthew, and Caleb jumps out from behind the tent. Belial, the demon that’s possessing Caleb, says that it can smell something vile on all of them. After the standstill between Caleb and Matthew, Mary steps forward, trying to help Caleb by asking his real name. Belial remains in control of Caleb, calling Mary Lilith and reminding her of her past. Belial says that the seven demons that once possessed Mary told it stories about what Lilith was like. Mary insists that Caleb needs to say the name that his mother gave him, and Caleb tries, but Belial prevents him from doing this.

After Jesus casts Belial out of Caleb, Mary quietly leaves the camp, taking her bag with her. Along the road to Jericho, Mary is still distraught about the events of the day, but as a Roman soldier passes her without doing anything to her, Mary regains some of her old confidence. With a new outlook, Mary enters Jericho and goes to a questionable establishment where she asks for a man named Jethro. The man at the front of the business is hesitant to do this at first, calling her a nice girl. However, when Mary takes off her head covering and tells the man to pass along a message about a girl from The Hammer wanting to win back her money, the front man is more eager to find Jethro.

The front man takes Mary to a back room to meet Jethro, who immediately recognizes Mary as Lilith, thinking that she was dead. Mary says that she was sort-of dead and says that she brought her own money to pay for the gambling game.

Andrew, Thaddeus, Little James, Phillip, and Nathanael

When John the Baptizer comes to see the disciple group, Andrew is confused as to why his former rabbi is going back to Jerusalem until John the Baptizer explains his rationale.

Thaddeus and Little James, after witnessing Jesus cast Belial out of Caleb, assist Caleb with his recovery.

Phillip and Nathanael have no substantial scenes in this episode.

Simon son of Zebulon, Jesse, and Atticus

After Jesus had met with Jesse a second time to tell Jesse to go and sin no more, Jesse was questioned by Shmuel and Yanni. Jesse told the two Pharisees that he hadn’t heard much of what Jesus and His disciples had said because Jesse was more focused on his healed legs. Jesse is still excited about his ability to walk, and he ends up disclosing to Shmuel and Yanni that one of Jesus’ disciples had mentioned going to see Jesus’ cousin. When Jesse hears that Jesus is from Nazareth, Jesse is surprised.

After leaving the interrogation, Jesse encounters Atticus, who was spying on the healed man. Atticus pretends to be a friend who just heard about the miracle and wanted to know more because he allegedly believed in the miracle. Jesse is hesitant to share much but reveals that he had encountered his brother soon after the healing. Jesse also reluctantly disclosed to Atticus that Jesse’s brother believed the healer to be the Messiah. Atticus pretends to be excited about this fact.

Simon son of Zebulun is searching for Jesus in the wilderness, which is where Simon encounters Caleb. Trying to remain hidden from the demon-possessed man doesn’t work because Belial can smell Simon following Caleb. Caleb begs for Simon to kill him, but Simon decides against this since Caleb was neither a Roman nor a tax collector and because the demons would go somewhere else. Simon reasoned that Caleb was strong enough to have lucid moments and would be fine. When Belial takes control again, the demon says that Simon has a vile smell on him, and Simon thinks that it’s because he hugged Jesse, who had not taken care of personal hygiene in a while. However, Belial insists that the smell is of a holy person, but Simon says that Jesse had not been holy for quite a long time.

Simon leaves Caleb and finds the camp of the disciples, watching them from a tree. However, Caleb follows Simon to the camp and startles Thomas, Matthew, Ramah, and Mary Magdalene. After the exchange between Belial and Mary, the demon forces Caleb forward to attack her, but Simon jumps out to stop the demon-possessed man. Nonetheless, Belial has allowed Caleb to be very strong, and after knocking Simon’s sica dagger away while Simon wasn’t looking, Caleb forces Simon to the ground and begins to strangle Simon to death.

Simon is only rescued by Jesus ordering Belial to get out of Caleb. Afterward, Simon tries to recover, and John the Baptizer recognizes that Simon was a zealot. Jesus tells the group that the newcomer is also Simon before directing the disciples to help Caleb. Then, the Lord takes Simon aside to discuss Simon’s future with the group. As Simon and Christ walk alone along the river, Simon conveys that he wants to do whatever he can to use his skills for Jesus. However, the Lord isn’t interested in Simon’s training, and after holding Simon’s sica dagger, Christ throws it into the river. Jesus tells Simon that He needs no one but wants Simon for specific reasons. Christ says that no one buys their way into the disciple group because of special skills, and Simon says that he’s concerned about people coming after Jesus due to the healing of Jesse. The Lord asks what Simon will do about this, and Simon says that he would be more likely to protect Christ if he still had his dagger. In response, Jesus says that Simon will have to wait and simply accept walking with the Lord for now.

Later, Simon son of Zebulun watches Christ say goodbye to John the Baptizer. Atticus had been following Simon through the wilderness, finding the remains of Simon’s campfire. As the Lord bids farewell to John the Baptizer with Simon looking on, Atticus watches the three men from a tree. Atticus had retrieved Simon’s sica dagger from the river, and Atticus begins making a connection between Jesus and John the Baptizer.

Shmuel and Yanni

After finding Jesse talking with Christ, Shmuel and Yanni bring in the healed man for questioning. It’s implied that the two Pharisees bribe Jesse with a pair of sandals. Shmuel attempts to extract information from Jesse, wanting the healed man to stop pacing and paying more attention to his legs than to the two Pharisees. From the interrogation, Shmuel and Yanni are able to derive that the mysterious Healer told Jesse to go and sin no more, which Shmuel thought matched what he had seen Jesus do in Capernaum. Yanni says that there were too many people named Jesus in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles.

After the questioning, Yanni and Shmuel go to a records clerk, demanding that the formal inquiry about the paralytic being healed in Capernaum be updated with new information about a second healing. The clerk is perturbed at this disturbance, taking his time to examine the archives. He eventually reveals that the formal inquiry was opened and then closed before it even advanced to the Sanhedrin. Yanni wants to know why, but the clerk is cagey, citing confidentiality. The clerk only discloses that a powerful member of the Sanhedrin used his influence to close the case, saying that it was a one-off incident by a rogue. Thus, the clerk insists that the inquiry would never be questioned or reopened.

After leaving the clerk’s office, Shmuel and Yanni fume about what they infer were Nicodemus’ actions to shut down the formal inquiry into Jesus before the investigation could even begin. Shmuel is ready to give up, believing that Nicodemus has too much power, but Yanni isn’t ready to relent. He tells Shmuel that he may have a contact who can help.

Later, Yanni is writing a letter to his friend, who is a personal scribe of a powerful member of the Sanhedrin. While writing, Yanni explains his plan to Shmuel: use the situation of healing on the Sabbath as a divisive political issue to split the Sanhedrin in half since either side held different beliefs about the interpretation of the Torah. Shmuel dislikes politics but agrees that this is the best way to either circumvent Nicodemus or convert him. Additionally, Yanni shares that he wants to recreate the events of the healings, possibly returning to Capernaum for investigation. Yanni says that they might be able to find the Ethiopian woman who took the first paralytic to Jesus, and Shmuel says that they can search the census records for Jesus’ cousin.

John the Baptizer

After meeting the Lord and His disciples in Jericho, John the Baptizer wants to meet them outside the city. John the Baptizer startles Jesus, Andrew, Simon son of Jonah, and Phillip, and Christ wants to meet with his cousin alone. The two men sit beside a lake in privacy as John insists that Jesus needs to be moving faster with His earthly ministry and doing more than He currently is. John the Baptizer intends to call out Herod for marrying his brother’s ex-wife. The Lord insists that it’s not His job to deal with the romantic lives of royalty. John wants to know why his Cousin is always going to desolate places, and Jesus says that He’s working on a big sermon and that He’s always ready to do the will of His Father.

Eventually, John the Baptizer becomes more serious as he realizes that everything that was prophesied about him and his Cousin was becoming real, which was heavy. Jesus agrees with this, and John apologizes for being pushy, reiterating his commitment to the Lord and John’s purpose in life.

Later, after witnessing Christ cast the demon out of Caleb, John the Baptizer thanks his Cousin for allowing him to see the miracle. As John leaves, a saddened Jesus tells His cousin that John is doing what he was supposed to be doing and that he only needed to listen to God. As he leaves, John says that he always does this, and the Lord fights back tears as he watches His cousin leave.

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.

Following the Subplots of The Chosen (Season 2, Episode 3: Matthew 4:24)

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 third episode, entitled “Matthew 4:24.”

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***

Simon, Andrew, and Thomas

After Little James finishes his shift helping Jesus with those being healed, Thomas awkwardly asks Little James what the latter’s malady is, and Little James reveals that he has a disability. Thomas wants to know why Little James doesn’t ask the Lord to heal him, which makes Thomas realize that he wants to ask Christ more questions.

While they are resting from helping Jesus as He healed local people, Simon, Andrew, and Thomas set up shelters and rest by the campfire. Simon asks Andrew to ask open-ended questions since Simon was too tired to think. Andrew asks the group what un-sinful things they would do to get money. The disciples offer various responses. During a discussion about education, Thomas says that he never did well in school and was working for the family business as soon as he had graduated.

When Mary Mother mentions that Jesus’ father died, Thomas says that he wants to asked the Lord more about this.

Eventually, the conversation turns to the Roman occupation and the nature of their Jewish culture. After others talk back and forth about this topic, Simon sarcastically asks Matthew how Matthew feels about the Roman impact on Jewish culture. When Matthew doesn’t respond, Simon lays into Matthew, accusing Matthew of what he used to do for Rome, oppressing his fellow Jews. Andrew agrees that Matthew needs to apologize for what he did to his fellow countrymen, and Thomas resents all tax collectors for making him struggle as a business owner. Simon doesn’t let up, saying that he wouldn’t accept Matthew’s apology even if there was one because Simon feels like Matthew forsook everything Jewish just to make more money while Simon remained faithful to the Jewish traditions and had to struggle for everything he had. Simon’s tirade is interrupted by Jesus coming into the campsite.

Big James and John

Big James and John assist Christ with the healing before helping set up the shelters. The brothers have a discussion with the others about why the Lord was choosing to heal people instead of get ready for war. Big James always believed in the rabbinic tradition that the Messiah would be a military leader who would conquer the Romans.

Then, they take a break for the night, sitting around the campfire. The two brothers participate in the various discussions about education and Jewish culture. John seems to take a particular interest in Mary Mother’s stories. John says that he didn’t do very well in school, but his brother did. Big James shares a time when he had to finish cleaning up the fishing supplies just before Shabbat, and he barely got done in time.

Although John asked Matthew about money during the earlier part of the conversation, John defends Matthew from Simon’s later attacks. Big James also steps in to try to stop the conflict, which gets interrupted with the Jesus’ arrival at the campsite.

Matthew

After Phillip gives him a passage to memorize from Psalm 139, Matthew thinks that it’s not enough. However, Matthew agrees to follow Phillip’s advice to mediate on the passage and write it down to help commit it to memory. Then, Matthew shares the same passage with Mary Magdalene and Ramah, helping them learn it as well.

While Christ was healing people, Matthew tried to keep track of what each individual’s ailment is so that he can write it down, but he’s unable to keep up as the people are excited and quickly leave after being healed.

Matthew did not participate very much in the discussions around the campfire, and he didn’t seem to know how to respond when Simon attacked him.

Mary Magdalene, Ramah, and Mary Mother

When the disciples are discussing why the Messiah came during their time and did not wait for people to become holy, Mary Magdalene asserted that the Lord came to make people holy rather than to wait for them to be holy. Later, during the campfire discussions, Mary Magdalene shares a modified version of her backstory for those who had not previously heard it, saying that she had temporarily left Judaism and forgotten most of the tenets of the religion. Mary Magdalene seems reluctant to talk about this and speaks awkwardly about her past. Later, Mary Magdalene is visibly uncomfortable during the heated arguments but stays out of the conflicts.

As the group talks about their expectations for the Messiah, Ramah shares that she always imagined that the Messiah would rescue her from the Romans. Later, during the discussion about Jewish regulations, Ramah shares that it was always easy for her to follow the rules. Ramah stays out of the arguments among Matthew, the sons of Jonah, and the sons of Zebedee.

Once Mary Mother joins the group, she assists in preparing the evening meal. As the disciples sit around the campfire, after being prompted by the others, Mary Mother shares some of her perspective on the birth of her Son as well as His childhood. When the Lord was younger, Mary Mother said that she was surprised at how much He needed her help as He grew up, but now, she felt like Christ didn’t need her help anymore.

Mary Mother left the group before the arguments broke out but came back as things were getting heated. She stays silent during the conflicts until she notices her Son coming back from the healing, looking exhausted. When no one else assists the Messiah, Mary Mother rushes to His side to wipe the blood from His hands and wash His feet. Then, Mary Mother helps her Son get ready to sleep even though no one else assists her.

Thaddeus and Little James

When Thomas inquires about Little James’ malady, Little James tells Thomas that he’s unsure if he’s supposed to ask Jesus to heal him of his disability, and Little James wonders if some of the people who are being healed only believed in the Lord because they were being healed by Him.

Thaddeus spends most of the episode helping Christ with the healing. At one point, Thaddeus reveals that he once ate pork at a Gentile marketplace. Thaddeus also reiterates that he’s learning to pray more.

Phillip and Nathanael

Phillip tells Matthew to memorize a portion of Psalm 139. When Matthew wants more, Phillip tells him to only focus on the small part for now by meditating on it and writing it down. Then, Phillip told Matthew to get back to him later.

For a majority of this episode, both Phillip and Nathanael were with Jesus, assisting with the healing of the crowds.

Nathanael did not have any substantial scenes in this episode.

Following the Subplots of The Chosen (Season 2, Episode 2: I Saw You)

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 second episode, entitled “I Saw You.”

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***

Simon and Andrew

The two sons of Jonah continue a quiet competition with the Sons of Thunder, but the four men are mostly cordial in this episode. When Phillip arrives, Simon is wary of the stranger but surprised when his brother Andrew welcomes Phillip with open arms. Andrew tells his brother that he has a life outside of Simon. Simon still doesn’t fully accept Phillip, especially when the new disciple quickly takes a liking to Matthew and defends the former tax collector from the others’ mistreatment. However, Simon has begun to like Thomas more than the other disciples. Later, Andrew is glad to hear from Phillip that John the Baptizer remembers Andrew. When he discovers Matthew writing down recent events again, Simon chastises Matthew for doing this.

On their way to Caesarea Philippi, Simon makes sure that he has a one-on-one conversation with Jesus because Simon wants to ask the Lord about how the leadership structure should work when Christ is away. Simon is also concerned about Matthew writing everything down, but Jesus is nonplussed by this fact. Simon suggests how he thinks things should go, but the Lord says that Simon’s leadership skills will be needed in the future when things will have to be more structured due to Christ being absent. Simon wants to know what this means, but Jesus says that it’s another conversation for another time and warns Simon that he needs to be kinder to every member of the group and possibly slow down if it helps someone else. Throughout this episode, Simon continues to try to assert himself as the leader of the group while also being threatened by the leadership skills of Phillip.

Big James and John

The Sons of Thunder, after the others find out about their new moniker, settle into their position within the group as manual laborers. After the initial shock, the sons of Zebedee are indifferent to Phillip’s arrival and mostly keep to themselves in this episode.

Matthew

After Matthew can’t find any dry wood, Simon criticizes Matthew for his lack of skills. However, Phillip uses this opportunity to take Matthew under his wing by showing him that they can dry the wet wood that Matthew found. Phillip treats Matthew differently than the others do, so this prompts Matthew to open up to Phillip about how Matthew feels different from the rest of the world. Phillip says that he also feels different from others but believes that someone’s past doesn’t matter anymore after Jesus calls them. Phillip tells Matthew to remind Simon of this the next time that Simon criticized Matthew about something. Matthew does this when Simon chastises Matthew for writing down all the events that happen to them. Matthew tells Thaddeus that he has to have a good record because the disciples were already disagreeing about how things occurred.

Later, Matthew agrees to assist Mary Magdalene and Ramah by copying portions of the Torah for the women to learn. Matthew tells the women that he will ask Phillip what the most important passages are. Phillip tells Matthew that he will think this over and tell Matthew as soon as possible.

Mary Magdalene, Thaddeus, and Little James

After hearing some of the men recite from the prophecies of Ezekiel, Mary Magdalene is motivated to learn more. In this episode, she seems distracted by something but doesn’t want to talk about it. Thus, Mary throws herself into helping Ramah learn how to read and write, enlisting Matthew’s help by asking for his tablet and help with learning the Torah.

Thaddeus shares with Matthew his newfound love for praying and tries to encourage Matthew even though others do not treat Matthew the same way. Thaddeus attempts to keep the peace between Simon and Matthew during their feud over Matthew’s writing.

Little James has no notable scenes in this episode.

Thomas and Ramah

In this episode, Thomas is still trying to find his place among the group. He becomes slightly jealous of Matthew helping Ramah learn how to read and offers his assistance in her endeavors.

Ramah realizes that following Jesus was harder than she thought and is glad for Mary Magdalene helping her learn how to read and write. When Thomas offers to tell Ramah what she needs to know, Ramah is noncommittal.

Phillip and Nathanael

Phillip visits the main disciple group because John the Baptizer told him to do so. Phillip immediately makes his presence known among the group because he doesn’t immediately conform to their expectations. Phillip makes waves by quickly taking Matthew under his wing to mentor him. As a disciple with two years of experience in the wilderness, Phillip decides to help Matthew collect the wet wood so that they can dry it for later use. During this task, Phillip tells Matthew that the Messiah defines people by who they are rather than who they used to be.

Later, Phillip tells Jesus that he will follow Christ as his new rabbi, and the two men discuss John the Baptizer and the Lord’s future work. Phillip and Jesus agree that the Messiah’s work is unconventional, much like the work of His cousin John the Baptizer. Phillip also asks if they can stop to see a friend in Caesarea Philippi before they continue on, and Christ agrees.

As an architect, Nathanael is proud that he’s a Jew working among Romans, but he also grows impatient with the lack of progress on one of his current projects. While arguing with the foreman about these delays, the unfinished construction collapses, dooming Nathanael’s career. This sends the former architect into a depression as he sits under a fig tree and asks God why He let Nathanael’s projects fail when they were meant to be for Yahweh. Nathanael recites passages from the Psalms, burns his blueprints, and pours the ashes on his head.

Afterward, Nathanael bars himself in his house, which forces Phillip to climb in through the window to see him. The two of them are old friends, and Nathanael recounts his woes. Phillip is sorry for his friend but insists that Nathanael needs to be come and see the Man Who is the Messiah. Nathanael is skeptical because Jesus is from Nazareth, but Phillip insists that He is the Messiah, which is why Nathanael has to come and see him. Nathanael agrees, realizing that he does not have anything else to do, and he admits that he’s never seen Phillip act like this.

As soon as Phillip and Nathanael come to Christ, the Lord calls Nathanael a true Israelite in whom there is no deceit. Jesus informs Nathanael that He saw Nathanael while he was under the fig tree at his lowest point, which prompts Nathanael to immediately call the Lord his rabbi. Phillip is glad about this development. Christ tells Nathanael that he will see even greater things, such as the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man, but for now, the work in Syria will begin the following day.

Following the Subplots of The Chosen (Season 2, Episode 1: Thunder)

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

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.

Movies/Series to Watch With Your Kids

As we draw near to what is hopefully the last month or so of quarantine (depending on what state you’re in), I’m sure everyone is getting a little stir crazy. This being said, we thought there was no time like the present to post some clean, enjoyable entertainment options you can watch with the whole family. In this post we will provide a list of family-friendly Christian movies, where you can find them, and the links to our reviews of each film. Without further ado, here’s something to kill the boredom and inspire some great family conversations.

wdlwn

Our Review: Woodlawn (10 points)

Where you can find it: https://www.pureflix.com/

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Our Review:   Voyage of the Dawn Treader [2010] (9.5 points)

Where you can find it: https://www.amazon.com/Chronicles-Narnia-Voyage-Dawn-Treader/dp/B004PIRE5W

Our review: I Still Believe (9.5 points)

Where you can find it: Available soon on streaming

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Our review: Nativity Story [2006] (9.5 points)

Where you can find it: https://www.amazon.com/Nativity-Story-Keisha-Castle-Hughes/dp/B003UOQ0LQ

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Our review: The Ultimate Gift (8.5 points)

Where you can find it: https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Gift-James-Garner/dp/B004CQ3HTE

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Our review: Beyond the Mask (7.5 points)

Where you can find it: https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Mask-Andrew-Cheney/dp/B083FL5PS6/ref=tmm_aiv_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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Our review: Courageous (7.5 points)

Where you can find it: https://www.amazon.com/Courageous-Alex-Kendrick/dp/B006P96PAO

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Our review: Heaven Bound [2016] (7.5 points)

Where you can find it: https://www.pureflix.com/

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Our review: Summer Snow (7.5 points)

Where you can find it: https://www.amazon.com/Summer-Snow-David-Chisum/dp/B07G8P1G1L

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Our review: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe [2005] (7.5 points)

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Our review: Mom’s Night Out (7.5 points)

Where you can find it: https://www.amazon.com/Moms-Night-Out-Sean-Astin/dp/B00M39CKMC or Pureflix


Our review: War Room (7.5 points)

Where you can find it: https://www.amazon.com/War-Room-Alex-Kendrick/dp/B014Q77YJW

whtif

Our review: What If… (7.5 points)

Where you can find it: https://www.pureflix.com/

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Our review: Christmas Princess (7 points)

Where you can find it: https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Princess-Nicole-Mu%C3%B1oz/dp/B07QD7RJYJ

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Our review: Facing the Giants (7 points)

Where you can find it: https://www.amazon.com/Facing-Giants-Alex-Kendrick/dp/B000N2KM4O

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Image result for the world we make

Our review: The World We Make (7 points)

Where you can find it: https://www.amazon.com/World-We-Make-Caleb-Castille/dp/B07S651KWK

Our review: The Chosen, Season 1 (13.5 points)

Where you can find it: https://www.pureflix.com/

We hope you and your family enjoy these titles as much as we have over the years!

Looking for a Way to Entertain Your Kids…and Yourself?

Author’s Note: This is not a paid advertisement of the AIO Club, just a friendly recommendation.

Hey all! If you’re looking for a way to entertain your kids and yourself with clean, quality content, look no further than Adventures in Odyssey! The online Adventures in Odyssey Club (AIO Club) has a free 30-day trial available that gives you access to all of their audio drama albums, exclusive bonus content, and their animated videos. The website is easy for kids and adults to navigate and has a fun layout.

Insider’s tip: Use Firefox to listen to episodes, not Google Chrome. The website acts buggy on the latter.

All you have to do to get access to loads of free, family-friendly entertainment is make an account and start listening! A pro here is that the account doesn’t require a credit card number, so an older kid could make one on their own. The avatar choices are a bit limiting, but that’s just my opinion.

Here’s the link to the AIO site: https://www.oaclub.org/

We have loved listening to Adventures in Odyssey since childhood, and recently started listening again when the pandemic struck. It’s a great way to use your afternoon free time wisely! Here are some tips from a veteran Odyssey fan on the best selection of AIO episodes:

  • The first ten albums or so have simple plotlines, but there’s nothing really wrong with them.
  • Albums 11-13 are forgettable, but may appeal to some audiences.
  • Album 14 has some priceless comedy, especially the License to Drive episode.
  • Albums 19 and 21 are good.
  • Albums 22-25 are very good, even if Blackgaard is a strawman villian.
  • Pretty much everything else is very good as well after album 25 (except for Back on the Air), until you finish album 57.
  • The most recent albums after 57 are very politically motivated and not especially memorable.

With so many hours of clean, quality content at your fingertips, there’s something here for everyone! We hope you and your family come to love Odyssey as much as we have over the years, and that it leads to some great discussions between you and yours.

Stay strong,

BOSs (Box Office Sass)

Jesus is in This Pandemic

Three weeks ago (give or take) all our lives changed to some extent. For many of us, circumstances that are out of our control have changed our day-to-day lives dramatically. Many people have lost their jobs, have sick loved ones, or are struggling to find someplace to stay because they were previously living on a college campus. For the rest of us, while we have only experienced a change in our daily routines, we are beginning to miss the one-on-one time we previously enjoyed with friends, co-workers, our church families, etc. Regardless of how you have been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, everyone has had to give up something – some more than others. But in the midst of it all, there is hope, there is joy. We can go on.

Those of us on the Box Office Revolutionary team have observed many ways that this pandemic is drawing people closer together. Families are spending quality time together and strangers are trading much-needed supplies with one another via social media. Church families are finding new ways to worship Jesus together and are reaching out to others in atypical ways. That’s right! Jesus is here is this pandemic, and He has a purpose for everything we are going through right now. I don’t know what it is, but I can tell you that He has been very near these days, giving me the strength I need moment by moment. Hmmm, maybe His purpose for some of us is to use this time at home wisely.

For example, what if we turned off the news channel and used our time at home to have one of those long heart-to-hearts (or more than one) with our spouse that we never had time for while we were driving the the kids to and from one hundred extracurricular activities and working full-time jobs? What if we put down the smartphone and played with our kids for an hour? If you live alone (or with only one or two other people) and are feeling lonely, how about looking outside yourself and finding some ways to reach out to others who are feeling the same way. If you do, you just might find that your anxiety is gone.

All of this may sound like corn-pone wisdom, but it really does work. With texting, emails, video chatting, Google hangouts, and a host of other e-communication tools, we really have no excuse. Not even social distancing can stop us from reaching out! It’s time to fight back! Don’t lie down and accept a bleak future, fight for a better tomorrow! Spread the love of Jesus in any way you possibly can!

14 Best Amazing Grace images | Amazing grace, Romola garai ...
Us to COVID-19

Sorry, I got a little excited. Any-who, the coronavirus pandemic is not the end. Jesus still has a purpose for your life. It may look a little (or a lot) different than you thought, but it’s for your good.

Food for thought:

(1) As followers of Jesus, are we going to be just as afraid as those who do not know Him?

(2) Or are we going to take this opportunity to show unbelievers the difference He can make in their lives?

They will know Jesus by His love that overflows through us and spills over onto them. They will not know Jesus by the way we squabble over toilet paper (ahhh, Charmin, those good ol’ days!) and Lysol. Ok, so I admit that Angel Soft is a piece of junk none of us want, but it’s better than nuthin’! So go forth and invest in your kids lives, in your spouse’s life, in your parents’ and siblings’ lives, in your friends’ lives, and in the lives of people you don’t even know!

Remember:

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” ~ James 1:12 NLT

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

~ Romans 5:3-5 NLT

“And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.” ~ Hebrews 13:16 NLT

Never give up!👊😎

Box Office Sass (BOSs)

Following the Subplots of The Chosen (Season 1, Episodes 5-8)

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The Chosen has certainly already been a transformational series, and it’s barely gotten off the ground. It has grassroots appeal and will likely grow into a larger and larger movement as time goes on. 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’ve seen through episode eight of the first season.

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***

Simon, Andrew, Eden, and Dasha

In the second half of Season 1, we saw Simon and his family taking more center-stage than they previously were. Simon consistently tried to assert himself as a protector of Jesus and a leader of the other disciples, including trying to be gatekeeper for who could and could not have access to his Rabbi. At the same time, Simon tried to hide the illness of Dasha, his mother-in-law, from Jesus. However, despite her mother’s sickness, Eden was glad for the turn of events in her husband’s life and formed a special connection with Jesus. Simon and Eden appear to have rekindled their romance with each other. Andrew continued to play a background role for his brother, his sister-in-law, and his new teacher; he wanted to protect Jesus as much as Simon did, but Andrew showed he was a faster learner than his brother was. In the end, Jesus healed Dasha’s malady, and Simon was forced to accept new things that were previously foreign to his culture, such as interacting with tax collectors and Samaritans.

Thus far, Simon, Andrew, Eden, and Dasha have either directly or indirectly crossed paths with Jesus and with all of the other current disciples and their families, with the exception of Matthew’s family. Simon and Andrew have additionally interacted with Jesus’ mother Mary and some of her close friends. Thus far, Eden and Dasha have only been seen in Galilee while the brothers have been seen there as well as Samaria.

Matthew, Gauis, Quintus, and Matthew’s parents

Matthew’s storyline and his related characters, including his parents, Gaius, and Quintus, have also been given more focus than before. Throughout the latter four episodes of Season 1, Matthew was consistently distracted and confused by the fish miracle he witnessed at the end of Episode 4, which was something that defied reality and could not be explained by his logical way of thinking. Thus, this drove him to seek answers from anyone who would listen; when his superiors passed it off as a trick, Matthew tried to get closer to Jesus and His disciples but had difficulty doing so. However, after witnessing the miracle of the walking paralytic and not receiving answers from a visit to his mother, Matthew made his decision and followed Jesus when the Messiah passed by his tax collector’s booth. The new disciple left his affluent lifestyle behind and began chronicling what he saw. Gaius, his former bodyguard, was stunned at this decision because he had developed an attachment to Matthew and had previously been awarded a military promotion due to the tax collector’s work. Gaius relayed Matthew’s desertion to his superior, Quintus; Gaius also took Matthew’s dog to Matthew’s parents since the former tax collector had asked that he take the pet there to protect his parents’ business from thieves. Upon hearing of Matthew’s resignation, Quintus became angry and made it his goal to find Jesus, especially since Quintus was already frustrated about Jesus drawing a crowd at Zebedee’s and Salome’s house, which disrupted the arrival of an important Roman official who was Quintus’ childhood rival. Before this, Quintus had assigned Nicodemus to meet with Jesus to find out His angle.

At this point, Matthew has encountered Jesus and all the current disciples besides interacting with his parents, Gaius, and Quintus. Gaius has also crossed paths with Matthew, Matthew’s parents, Quintus, and Jesus for a brief moment. Quintus has had contact with Matthew, Gaius, Nicodemus, and Zohora. Gaius and Quintus have only been seen around Galilee while Matthew has been in both Galilee and Samaria.

Nicodemus, Zohara, Shmuel, and Yussef

Nicodemus’ and Zohara’s subplot remained relatively stable throughout the second half of Season 1. Zohara consistently wanted to return home to Jerusalem in order to once again live their affluent lifestyle and to meet their new grandchild. However, Nicodemus was intent on remaining in Galilee until he had solved the mystery of Mary Magdalene’s transformation. In pursuit of this goal, he interviewed John the Baptizer and went to the areas around Zebedee’s and Salome’s house just in time to see Mary Magdalene and to witness the healing of the paralytic. This led to Nicodemus begging Mary for an audience with her Rabbi. Mary agreed to ask Jesus, and later, Quintus demanded that Nicodemus seek a meeting with the mysterious teacher. Jesus agreed to the rendezvous and gave Nicodemus earth-shattering teaching about being born again and about saving the world from sin rather than from Rome. Nicodemus appeared to be converted to Jesus’ cause, and the Rabbi told Nicodemus to follow Him by meeting Him at a designated well before they departed on their journey. However, as Nicodemus gave it some thought and as Zohara convinced him, the esteemed Pharisee decided against publicly aligning himself with the controversial teacher and instead provided money for their expedition. Elsewhere, Shmuel played a much larger role in the second half of this inaugural season as he developed a very legalistic stance on the enforcement of Jewish law in response to his mentor’s (Nicodemus) possible openness to seemingly new ideas espoused by Jesus. As the season progressed, Shmuel became a more extreme character who may play a larger role in future seasons, especially since he has already directly interacted with Jesus at the healing of the paralytic. After using Old Testament passages to argue that John the Baptizer and Jesus were advocating heresy, Shmuel informed Nicodemus that he intended to make his mark on Pharisaical history by specializing in studying false prophecy, possibly in Jerusalem. Further, Yussef continued to be a minor character throughout this season as he remained in the background during major events like the healing of the paralytic. His most major contribution was discovering that Jesus was having a dinner party at Matthew’s house.

Up to this point, Nicodemus has only interacted with Quintus, Shmuel, Yussef, John the Baptizer, Mary Magdalene, Andrew, and Jesus. Zohara has only had contact with Quintus and her husband. Shmuel has been seen with Nicodemus, Yussef, and Jesus. Yussef has interacted with Nicodemus, Shmuel, and Jesus. All of these characters have only been seen around Galilee up to this point.

James, John, Zebedee, and Salome

The second half of Season 1 also saw the expansion of focus on the Zebedee clan. James and John became more main characters, and the audience saw a new side of Zebedee, along with the introduction of his wife, Salome. James and John went with Jesus and the other disciples to the Cana wedding, where they witnessed Jesus’ first public miracle. Then, they returned to their own home to watch the miracle of the paralytic unfold before them. Later, John accompanied Andrew to protect Jesus while their Rabbi met with Nicodemus under the cover of darkness. Further, James and John accompanied Jesus and the other disciples on the journey to Samaria, where they witnessed the Lord’s interaction with Fortina at the well. Zebedee and Salome only interacted with Jesus and His disciples in their own home prior to seeing the paralyzed man healed after he was let down through their roof. Zebedee appears to have mended his relationship with Simon, which was previously tenuous after Simon’s underhanded plans. Also, Salome has already developed a special attachment to Jesus.

Zebedee, Salome, James, and John have interconnected with Jesus and all His current disciples. Zebedee and Salome have only been seen in Galilee while their sons have been seen in both Galilee and Samaria.

Mary Magdalene, Thaddeus, and James son of Alphaeus

After being set free by Jesus, Mary Magdalene became a slightly secondary character as she began following the Messiah along with two other secondary characters, Thaddeus and James son of Alphaeus (“Little James”). They all attended the wedding at Cana, where Mary revealed a little bit about her past while Thaddeus disclosed that he had met Jesus while working on a construction project. In a private conversation, Thaddeus told Mary that he became a stonemason even though his father was a smith because Thaddeus liked the fact that chiseling stone was more final and once the first cut was made, the block would never be the same. Later, Little James disclosed to Simon that he was originally going to sing in a temple choir before Jesus called him.

Thus far, Mary’s, Thaddeus’, and Little James’ storylines have all intersected with Jesus and with the other disciples. Mary has had personal contact with Nicodemus. Mary, Thaddeus, and Young James have all been seen in both Galilee and Samaria.

Thomas and Ramah

Thomas and Ramah were hired by Raphi and Dinah to oversee the preparation and distribution of food and wine at the Cana wedding. It seems to be implied that Thomas and Ramah are a couple and are running a business together. Once they arrived at the wedding, they discovered that there were far more guests than they had planned for and were soon running out of food and wine to keep everyone supplied. Thomas was extremely distraught at the situation since it would make him look bad. After dilution of the wine was a failed venture, Jesus’ mother Mary alerted the Messiah to the plight, and He came to the aid of Thomas and Ramah. Jesus told Thomas to follow him so that He could show Thomas a new way to count and a new way to view time. Jesus wanted Thomas to meet Him in Samaria in twelve days. Thomas was very skeptical until he saw the result of Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine. Thomas did not think Jesus’ directions would work, but Ramah was more than willing to supply the water for the miracle. When it was all over, Thomas told Ramah that he didn’t know what to think about Jesus’ offer, but Ramah told Thomas to not think for once.

Thomas and Ramah have only been seen in Galilee and have only directly interacted with Jesus, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Mary’s friends.

Mary the mother of Jesus and her friends

Raphi and Dinah were implied to be longtime friends of Mary the mother of Jesus, which is why Mary agreed to assist them with their son’s wedding in Cana. Mary had been previously introduced in the the Christmas pilot episode, and a flashback at the beginning of the Season 1’s second half revealed a special connection Mary had with her Son. After inviting Jesus and His disciples to be her guests at the Cana wedding, Mary asked her Son to prevent her friends’ embarrassment after the wine ran out.

Thus far, Mary and her friends have only been seen in Galilee, and they have only been seen with Jesus, Jesus’ current disciples, and Thomas and Rama.

Other Characters and Notes

Blind man in the Red Quarter: Although we never saw the blind man from the Red Quarter in the second half of Season 1, but he may still appear again when Jesus and His disciples return to the area in later seasons.

Barnaby, Shula, Rivka, and Mary Magdalene’s other friends: Barnaby, Shula, and Rivka had very small parts in Season 1’s latter half as they asked Jesus questions while He was at Zebedee’s and Salome’s house and appeared at Matthew’s dinner party. Abigail’s parents (Mara and Eliel) also brought questions to the Rabbi. They will likely all return for more seasons, with Shula and Rivka possibly playing larger roles in the future.

Photina, Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well: Photina was introduced right at the end of Season 1 as Jesus and His disciples came to her Samaritan village. Jesus revealed to her that He was the Messiah, which prompted her to go tell others even though she was a social outcast due to living with a man who was not her husband and due to having multiple marriages and relationships throughout her life. It’s implied that her story is not over yet, so she may be seen again in Season 2.

Abigail and friends: Abigail and her friend Joshua were seen outside of Zebedee’s and Salome’s home when they offered Matthew a front row seat to witnessing the miracle of the paralytic. It’s likely that they will return in future seasons.

Tamar of Heliopolis and her friends: Tamar witnessed Jesus healing the leper, which prompted her to bring her paralyzed friend to Him at Zebedee’s and Salome’s house. She and her friends fought to get to the Teacher and let him down through the roof so that Jesus could heal the paralytic. Jesus commended her for her faith and her perseverance. It’s highly possible that some people from this group of friends will be seen in other seasons.

Old Testament flashbacks: One of the arguably best elements of Season 1’s second half was the use of Old Testament flashbacks to enhance storytelling. Thus far, the viewers have been shown Moses and Joshua as Moses fashioned the bronze serpent on the pole and Jacob and some of his sons as they dug what was later known as Jacob’s Well. It’s highly likely that this Old Testament flashback trend will continue in all seasons of The Chosen.

Following the Subplots of The Chosen (Season 1, Mid-Season Update)

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The Chosen has certainly been a transformative series already, and it’s barely gotten off the ground. It has grassroots appeal and will likely grow into a larger and larger movement as time goes on. 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’ve seen through episode four of the first season.

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***

Mary Magdalene

The series started off with a bang as Mary’s demonic bondage was explored from multiple angles while at the same time providing key flashbacks to her character’s core motivations. Her father taught her Isaiah 43:1, which she clung to during her darkest hours. After neglecting suicide to follow a bird to her only friend’s (Sol) eating establishment, Mary encountered the Messiah, Who quoted her favorite Scripture to her before setting her free. She then set her mind to helping her friend at the hairdresser shop and re-adapting Jewish customs in her new life, including preparing Shabbat for local outcasts. It was there that she encountered Jesus again and first learned His Name.

Thus far, Mary’s storyline has intersected with Jesus and Nicodemus. She has primarily been in Capernaum.

Nicodemus

Nicodemus’ opening scene–the journey to Capernaum with his wife Zohara–was interrupted by Quintus, a recurring magistrate character, who wanted the rabbi to assist the Roman Empire’s effort to stop fishermen who worked on Shabbat in order to avoid Roman taxes. Nicodemus is a very staunch interpreter of the Torah, which is why another Roman official asked him to cast demons out of Mary Magdalene, who was causing havoc in the Red Quarter, where she worked as a prostitute. Nicodemus reluctantly went, but his exorcism was unsuccessful. Nonetheless, Yussef, a local Pharisee, later informed Nicodemus that he witnessed Mary in her right mind, so Nicodemus paid her visit again to see for himself. He learned her true name and discovered that his work had nothing to do with her freedom. Mary told him of Jesus’ words to her, which prompted Nicodemus to wonder if his work as a rabbi was even honoring God anymore. After receiving word from the priests and rabbis of Capernaum that the radical preacher called John the Baptizer was speaking against the Pharisees and had been imprisoned by Herod, Nicodemus determined to ask the crazy man questions about the miracles he had heard about.

Up to this point, Nicodemus’ subplot has crossed over with Mary alone. He has primarily been seen in Capernaum.

Matthew

As an outcast Jewish tax collector, Matthew’s closest human companion is his Roman bodyguard Gaius; he also has a stray dog for company. Matthew was shunned by his family for supporting the Roman enemy, but he appears to be nonplussed by this. He is a very conscientious accountant who challenged Quintus’ scheme to relieve Simon’s family’s taxes in exchange for his turning in fishermen who worked on Shabbat to avoid taxes. Gaius advised against Matthew’s resistance to Quintus, but Matthew ignored the social cues and faced the powerful official anyway. Quintus was impressed by his courage and ordered Matthew to follow Simon to see if the fisherman was going back on his word. As Matthew spied on Simon, he was able to witness Jesus’ massive fish miracle from afar.

At this point, Matthew has also encountered Simon and Andrew; he has seen Jesus work from a distance. Matthew’s work has primarily been in Galilee so far.

Simon, Andrew, and Eden

Simon made a deal with Roman magistrate Quintus to turn in any Jewish fishermen who fished or Shabbat to avoid paying Roman taxes in exchange for his family’s taxes being cancelled, but Simon’s brother Andrew disagreed with this plan. Simon hid his secret source of income and covert tax evasion from his wife, Eden, but she was suspicious of his unusual work hours, including his work on Shabbat. Andrew has been continually trying to keep his brother from getting into trouble with his in-laws and from using schemes to get ahead in life. However, when he was assisting the Romans one night with patrolling for Shabbat fishers, Simon changed his mind when he saw remnants of Zebedee’s work since he and his sons were friends. Later, Simon confessed to Zebedee, James, and John what he had done and begged for their help to pay off his tax debts, but they refused. In midst of the turmoil, Simon had to tell Eden what was going on after her ill mother had unexpectedly moved in with them. Eden and Simon both agreed they needed a miracle to settle their financial situation, so he set out to fish all night. Eden asked Zebedee and his sons to help, so they brought Andrew as well to assist the colorful Simon with his bind. However, after catching nothing all night, the fishermen encountered Jesus on the shore, whom Andrew had already told Simon about. Jesus used Simon’s boat to briefly teach before telling people to put out the nets one more time. This led to the miraculous catch of fish, which gave enough revenue to settle the debts. Jesus promptly called Simon, Andrew, James, and John to follow Him from there on out.

Simon and Andrew have interacted with Matthew, Zebedee, James, John, and Jesus. Eden and the brothers have only been seen in Galilee thus far.

Abigail and friends

Abigail is a young, assertive girl who accidentally discovered Jesus’ makeshift carpentry shop in a clearing of the woods near her house. During the events of the first two episodes, Abigail took her friends to see Jesus each day, and He taught them rudimentary wood-working skills and reinforced His lessons for their lives. He shared with them some of His future teachings before letting them know it was time for His work to begin.

Abigail and her friends have only crossed paths with Jesus in the outskirts of Capernaum.

James, John, and Zebedee

Zebedee and his sons James and John are fellow fishermen with Simon and Andrew who heard of the Roman scheme to arrest fishermen who worked on Shabbat to avoid tax laws when Simon confessed to his part in it. At first, they refused to help Simon, but at the pleadings of Eden, they decided to help Simon bail out his debts. In doing so, they witnessed Jesus’ miracle of the massive catch of fish, after which James and John were called to be His disciples.

Zebedee, James, and John have interconnected with Simon, Andrew, and Jesus and have only been seen in Galilee.

Other Characters and Notes

Blind man in Red Quarter: In the first two episodes, we saw other characters run into a blind man in the Red Quarter who is waiting for the Messiah to pass by, so we are likely to see this previewed storyline in a later episode.

Quintus: Quintus has been a recurring character who’s crossed paths with Nicodemus and Matthew already, so it’s possible we will see a larger role from him as the series progresses.

Gaius: Matthew’s bodyguard has the same name as the recipient of 3 John, so we may continue to see his character developed as more seasons are released.

Shmuel and Yussef: These two Capernaum Pharisees have thus far been in the background of Nicodemus’ main storyline, but it’s possible that we will continue to see more of them as their subplots break off from Nicodemus’ to play the roles of future Pharisee characters who challenge Jesus.

What Mainstream Period Dramas Got Right

Many Christian audiences love period dramas, so why hasn’t a Christian filmmaker made one yet? In the past decade, budding and established screenwriters have proven that a a period drama doesn’t need sensationalism to be good. In other words, a tasteful storyline with superior character development is the name of the game. Instead of only creating movies for niche audiences or confining stories to certain genres, Christian filmmakers need to branch out and dare to be different. Here at BOR, it is our opinion that this is the only way Christian movies can breach the secular/inspirational divide and be just as good as the competition – while promoting an important message. To start off, let’s take a look at a few exceptional period dramas that got it right.

Little Dorrit (2008)

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Andrew Davies’ depiction of Charles Dickens’ little known story, Little Dorrit, is a nearly perfect series on all counts. Davies brought the semi-boring original storyline to life by writing character-driven story that held the audience’s attention. From the first episode to the last, the story holds the viewer’s attention and causes the audience to fall in love with – or dislike – each character as they are, for neither group is all good or bad. Arthur and Amy’s complexly interwoven story is well-established through the use of flashbacks and engaging dialogue. Finally, while the ending is somewhat predictable, it is done in the best way through a healthy serving of ironic humor. Therefore, there are two main things Christian filmmakers can learn from this series.

Make your characters the first priority!

As a screenwriter, your characters should come alive on the page or they will never be engaging on-screen. From here, the screenplay should add further depth to already well-crafted characters. Throughout the remainder of the work, casting, filming, editing, etc., the characters should be give the first priority at all time. If your characters are good, then in this case, a pre-established storyline will follow their lead.

Please, don’t waste time on ‘filler’ dialogue.

Every conversation between the characters needs to be meaningful. Audiences are smart and will become easily bored with generic dialogue between characters. Make your dialogue count – the audience will recognize the difference.

Emma (2009)

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Sandy Welch’s depiction of Jane Austen’s posthumous work, Emma, is unsurpassed. Welch brings the characters to life by crafting excellent dialogue and clear personalities. Additionally, her humorous characters drive the plot and make this adaption stand out from it’s counterparts. There are not many good British comedies, but this is one of them. While Emma has many lessons for filmmakers everywhere, there is one big statement that Welch and company make in this series:

Devote ample time to discerning/crafting the personality of each character.
Each character in a story needs a clearly defined personality, even down to the minor characters. There should be no such thing as a one-dimensional character. Emma proves that developing a character’s personality brings a new level of depth and meaning to everything that happens in a story. There is much that goes into developing multi-dimensional characters, but developing a clear personality is a good start for any filmmaker.

Commit to finding a cast member that is perfect for each role

For every well-written story, there are actors out there who are perfect for the corresponding roles. In Emma, it is clear that time was devoted to finding cast members who were perfect for each role. Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller are strong leads because their portrayals of Emma and Mr. Knightley drive the plot. Because of the strong cast, this depiction of Austen’s novel is the best to date. In Christian film, there is a need for stronger casting. If your cast is bad, your movie will not be successful and will reach no one. If Christian filmmakers ever hope to one-up their competition, they must be devoted to their characters from start to finish.

Doctor Thorne (2016)

Julian Fellowes’ depiction of Anthony Trollope’s little-known book Doctor Thorne is both brilliant and engaging. Fellowes’ combination of excellent character development and witty dialogue makes for a clean, enjoyable comedy/drama that is palatable for all ages. Additionally, his subtle parody of social politics in high society adds much to the simple storyline. While there are many lessons to be learned from Fellowes’ screenwriting, he makes two main statements in this series.

Self-awareness is the key.

Fellowes demonstrates through this series that a simple storyline does not limit a film’s potential. Today’s audiences appreciate subtle parody and self-aware humor, both of which are found here. Gone are the days of stiff and awkward theatrical acting and vanilla storylines – so please, stop using them. Recent Christian films have raised the bar higher than ever on acting skills and dialogue expectations. A perfect story has both joy and sadness, pain and peace, humor and lasting lessons – and a really good ending.:)

Respect the intelligence of your audience.

Audiences do not need obvious cues and product placements to understand the message of your story. Once again, subtlety is the name of the game. However, subtlety and loss of meaning should not go hand in hand, rather, subtlety should be used to establish meaning. For instance, in Doctor Thorne, much of the run-time is devoted to developing a real romance between Mary and Frank. Additionally, there is no Pureflix-style message-pushing. Preachy dialogue and a forced agenda disrespects your audience and isolates people that could have been reached by the heart of your message (if it had one). The Erwin brothers have proven that a real message reaches everyone instead of a select group.

In light of all this, what can we conclude? Simply this: mainstream content is more far-reaching and influential than most Christian films because, for the most part, good mainstream screenwriters adhere to these guidelines and others. If Christian movies start respecting their audiences and portraying real people in their storylines, then their love for others will prove to the world that they are Jesus’ disciples (John 13:35, New Living Translation).

How to Lose Someone in 60 Seconds: Hallmark-Style

It’s that time again…Witty Wednesday!

This edition’s scenario:Let’s say that you’re a big business guru in the inspirational card-making, trinket-selling, and all around entertainment industry. Let’s say that someone who works for you is suddenly caught in the midst of a massive scandal. Someone…..someone….like this:

Who did something like this:

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As a big public figure, you can’t very well condone their actions, even though you may agree with some or all of them. So, what is one to do? Oh, I don’t know, the first thing that comes to mind is to put them in a box, then put that box inside of another box, and mail it to yourself. And when it arrives:

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You’re right! We must consider other options…I know! You could BANISH them from the face of the earth!

A third option, just for the sake of variety, would involve you stripping away all social/personal/any remote connections you had with said person and exposing their personal life to public criticism! HAHAHAHAHAHA….

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NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
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Her reaction: ^

However, if none of these options are appealing, you could start them on the path through a knock-down, drag-out, long, over-complicated, and never-ending court case!

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But wait, I know! The best thing to do here is combine all of these ideas into one for the ultimate showdown/elimination of said person from the face of the earth.

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Well, that pretty much sums up how to lose someone in 60 seconds…Hallmark-style.;)

Disclaimer: Please consult your lawyer or another legal authority before trying any of the above suggestions, we are not a legal representative and the above strategies are not to be considered as legal counsel.

Classifying B-grade Christian Movies

It’s that time again – Funny Friday! Anyone who has spent a considerable amount of time searching for quality Christian entertainment knows that B-grade Christian movies exist in abundance…and continue to be released! We here at BOR are well aware that many filmmakers struggle to raise money to support their dreams, however, we have also observed that some movies never needed to be made. It is these movies that are parodied below. Most or all of the following films can be found in the bowels of streaming services, on Pureflix.com, or for free on various websites (if you know what I mean). Enjoy!

The Cliffs of Insanity

Two words. Love Different. No one has made a movie like this to date. Let me break it down for those of you who haven’t watched it. There’s this single ‘white’ girl see, and she has a son. She applies for a job at a ‘black’ company who only has ‘black’ employees. This leads to many new experiences for white girl. From zany grocery store trips ending in her being carried out by her new black friend, to many scenes of awkward characters dancing and singing to their bathroom mirror while balancing toiletries on various appendages, this movie has a little something for everyone. Here’s the viewing experience you can expect while watching Love Different:

Jenn Gotzon is dancing in the bathroom mirror, audience’s response:

Anthony Hackett is rapping a song about lotion while looking in the bathroom mirror, audience’s response:

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Pan to Jenn Gotzon ranting about food stamps in a very awkwardly expressive manner at the grocery store, Anthony Hackett is busy laughing and making off-color racial jokes and bumps into her at the counter (panicky breaths):

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But we can’t forget another big category of Christian movies – end times movies. Oh yes, we’re going there. Perhaps the most unusual one we’ve ever reviewed here to date is Sunday Morning Rapture. Basically you go from your average introduction to multiple characters to complete and utter mayhem…you guessed it, the RAPTURE. Pan to shaking furniture, explosions, car crashes, and people watching news on every possible channel available in the universal cable TV package especially made for this film. And then…the cliffs of insanity. Pan to people in church rolling in the isles (literally) and throwing themselves at the altar in some attempt to bring back those who were RAPTURED, viewer’s response:

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Inconceivable

These films are easily recognized and can be identified by their zany, unusual, off-color, or just plain weird qualities. Obviously the most inconceivable movie in this category is yours truly, The Rev, we have honestly seen nothing like this film to date. Basically it goes from: Yo, three old guys are sittin’ on a bench reminiscing about the good ol’ days. Oh hey! Remember that one time…awkward thirty/forty-something white man appears on screen in a Walmart Elvis suit and eventually starts driving the movie donor’s convertible around (where is that music coming from?). Then he starts picking up random people off the road, including a suicidal has-been singer and a ‘prostitute’ in a Party City costume. Somewhere in there we have singing and dancing sequences I’ve wiped from my memory. This movie is like used chewing gum in your hair – you can cut it out, but you’ll never forget it.

Another movie that really deserves to be here is Tommy Blaze’s finest work, Me Again. If you want to watch a movie where the most insecure white man ever goes on a zany psychological journey in which he becomes an old chain restaurant owner with a bad heart, this same guy’s female housekeeper, an anorexic female model addicted to drugs, (it gets better) his own wife, a female baby, a goldfish, and his daughter’s boyfriend (perhaps his most fitting role)….

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…..then this one is for you.

What in the world can that be? 

These movies usually feature a random appearance of an unexpected feature that in no way fits with the rest of the film.

You know when you’re watching a Christian movie that is either totes boring, mediocre, pushing an agenda, or average with some obvious production errors, when all of the sudden….is that a PEZ dispenser?

(radio silence)

If you don’t know which movie that generic gray-haired man was on, then I’ll leave it for you to search out on your own. Let’s just say he’s from a movie that is so bad it made it into two categories in this post.

As if the chicken man isn’t enough, there’s one more finalist here that we couldn’t resist featuring. The Adventures of Chris Fable . In some way, this film is trying to portray John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress….but we’re not sure how or why. You see, Chris is just a downtrodden boy….who suddenly is called to go on a journey that will change his life forever! “On their way to freedom,” he and his companions “encounter weird looking bugs, loud noises, shaking trees, a freaky CGI city, and a giant stomping robot.” (our founder, 2017). While watching, you will soon ask: “Will I ever make it out of this movie?”

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Yes, you’re very smart. Shut up.

Recent evidence has shown that this category extends to both movies and series. For instance, Peculiar season 1. What in the name of wet sandwich bread is going on here? This one has it all: Oh I’m just the average Christian kid who wants to protect himself from the big bad world by going to a Christian university…but can’t get in. This sticks me with going to a secular school who….has. no. sports. Oh no, now I have a sports-related injury and an evil atheist professor out to persecute me! What do I do? Why, sing, dance, and make weird jokes of course (in-between staged debates in front of the entire class with said professor). These parts of the movie will lead anyone with sanity to ask “Are you finished?” To which the professor will respond:

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And when the student finally defeats the atheist professor, a fellow college student on a campus far, far, away will suddenly turn around and say to the camera:

Its obvious which movies fit in this category. For instance, A Matter of Faith, God’s Not Dead, and End of the Harvest .

I don’t think it means what you think it means

This post wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t take a look at the very best that B-grade Christian films have to offer: human trafficking, pro-life, and time travel films. First up, what do you get when you mix a few big-name Christian actors with an agenda-pushing storyline? Answer: Caged No More! Oh my word, this one is a real doozy. If you don’t get tired fast enough of Kevin Sorbo playing twin brothers (one with a fake British/Australian accent), trumped up action scenes, or pass out from boredom, Aggie’s voice will do the trick.

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If you finish watching Caged No More, you are really committed to the cause and deserve to watch Alison’s Choice! Otherwise known as the worst pro-life film to date. Here’s what you’ve got: Bruce Marchiano playing himself a janitor with a Jesus impersonation complex, a pregnant teen who sees visions of her CGI unborn child at the touch of said janitor’s hand, off-color racial ‘comedy’, and the ‘black female’ character. This agenda-pushing plotline is frequently punctuated with the phrase “choose life!”

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We’ve saved the best for last: Time Changer. If ever there were a time travel movie that would go down as the absolute worst, this is it. Let’s start out with a freeze frame from the film:

My time machine is far too complex for you to understand

‘Nuff said. Here’s the skinny: a seminary professor writes a textbook that doesn’t align with the morals displayed by Christ. His punishment? Travel into the future and be horrified at every turn by how terrible the world has become! Women wearing provocative clothing! Teenagers flushing their lives down the toilet! Matriarchy! Immorality! Card playing! Dancing…in church!!!

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Somewhere in there he jumps around from past, present, and future, and somehow gets back to the present in the pursuit of finding the end of time. How did he get here, there, and everywhere?

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That pretty much sums it up!

No more rhymes, I mean it!

You know when you’re watching a Christian ‘comedy’ and it either turns out to be completely weird, funny for all the wrong reasons, or so stupid that you can’t finish it? Well, this movie takes it to a whole ‘nother level: Spent The best summation I can come up with for this film without giving too much away is this: Dad’s dying, let’s get his money (evil laugh). Oh wait, he’s not actually dying….

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Ok, so since he’s not going to die naturally, time to come up with a backup plan! Hehehehehehehe. Hey Dad, guess what’s for dinner? Your favorite! Pizza pie! (waits while he eats it) Did you like it? Yeah it was (interruption) Well good, cause it was your LAST MEAL

But we haven’t even talked about Malibu Dan the Family Man Season 1 (it has two seasons!) or Hitting the Breaks! If you don’t know what this is, all you need to know is this. In the gif below, the protagonist in these absurd series is Buzz, and the audience is Woody.

Image result for it's the chicken man toy story gif

To conclude, to anyone reading this who is offended in any way, please know that this post is meant in fun and is not intended to shame or humiliate anyone. Current Christian filmmakers, if God was in the movie you were making, and you were not just doing it to please someone else or yourself, the audience and us will know. See our Hall of Fame for movies fitting this criteria.:)

When Calls The Heart: Lip Reading Part 1

Welcome back to Funny Friday here at BoxOfficeRevolution featuring even more WCTH parodies! Never fear for we have found more clever spoofs of everyone’s favorite show! This series features yet another ingenious video creator on YouTube. Hilariously reading what the characters in WCTH appear to be saying according to their lip movements. As always we hope you enjoy these video’s and if so remember go over to the creators channel and give them a thumbs up!

When Calls The Heart Crack/Song Spoof #2

Well it’s “Funny Friday” again. You know what time it is? It’s time for more When Calls The Heart Parodies! This is the second installment in this epic series of WCTH spoofs as before feel free to check out the rest on their channel. Also don’t forget to beg them to make more of these please!. (P.S don’t forget to laugh:)!

When Calls the Heart Crack/Song Spoof #1

This is an epic parody of everybody’s favorite show When Calls the Heart, that a pure genius created on YouTube. The creator ingeniously makes a hilariously funny spoof of this show using only songs, sorry “hearties” but i believe that even you will be joining in on the laughter as well. Without further introduction see below this epic artistry and check out the rest on their channel.

Movies That Are So Bad They’re Not Even Worth Our Time, Part 5 (MTASBTNEWOT 5)

In our vast Christian entertainment viewing experience, we sometimes come upon films that we can hardly justify writing a full review for.  Therefore, for your convenience, so you don’t have to go watch those free films that invade your suggested watch list in on-demand video services, we’ve provided a quick overview here.  Someday we might post more, if we’re fortunate enough to find more.

 

Strange….

For Such a Time

Why do we need so many Esther films?  This one looks like it was recorded with a handheld camera for a church play.  They obviously purchased all of their costumes and props at Walmart and decided to film a historical story in a modern house full of white people with too much makeup.  Production is terrible in all aspects and nothing these people are doing resembles acting.  This is so low quality that it doesn’t even warrant creation.

 

Just taking some pictures of flowers

The Bouquet

One of the wonders produced by Nasser Film Group, this one portrays Kristy Swanson and a whole bunch of other awkward cast members in a knockoff Hallmark movie about a group of people all hanging around the same property together trying to rehabilitate a dying flower business.  With laughable references to the internet and technology and the most juvenile forced romances ever, only watch this one if you need a good laugh.

 

Enough said

Midnight Stallion

In another face-palmer from Nasser, Kris Kristofferson attempts to portray a fifty-year-old man with a teenage daughter, although he was close to eighty years old at the time of this movie’s filming.  Hardly anything can be focused on at all in this formulaic, stereotypical, and predictable horse-saves-the-farm story except for Kristofferson’s terrible plastic surgery, constant grunting, and scenes of him pretending to ride a horse.  Whoever keeps casting old coots like Kristofferson needs to quit film making.

 

Well that’s all for now!  Maybe we’ll post another one someday…maybe not…

Movies That Are So Bad They’re Not Even Worth Our Time, Part 4 (MTASBTNEWOT 4)

In our vast Christian entertainment viewing experience, we sometimes come upon films that we can hardly justify writing a full review for.  Therefore, for your convenience, so you don’t have to go watch those free films that invade your suggested watch list in on-demand video services, we’ve provided a quick overview here.  Someday we might post more, if we’re fortunate enough to find more.

 

Living Water [2006]

From the obnoxious blaring harpsicord soundtrack to the generally terrible production quality, Living Water is possibly one of the worst films on record.  Based entirely off of borderline offensive racial stereotypes, there is really no pot here to speak of except for a save the church concept and a bunch of heavy-handed radio preaching that drives the so-called story.  As the movie goes from one juvenile drama to the next, the viewer (if they last through it) finds themselves either laughing or crying from embarrassment.  A word of advice: steer clear of this one unless you’re really bored.

 

Running [2015]

Made by a ministry of some sort, it’s unclear whether or not the creation of this film was justified.  The production money was spent on the wrong things, such as fancy vehicles, instead of spending it on practical things, such as better audio and video equipment.  The story is very thin and empty—it seems like nothing is really happening except characters pretending like they’re doing stuff.  Finally, the acting is deplorable, rounding out a very uninspiring movie you probably won’t ever get around to watching.

 

Only Once [1998]

Only watch this barely-one-hour Mormon movie if you like to laugh at extremely awkward and wooden teenage cast members trying to convey an otherwise important message.  There is an unbelievable amount of silence in this film as mindless and empty characters just stare at each other and as useless montages go by.  This story is overall childish and overly simplistic.  There is no way to understand the end, much less what we’re really supposed to get out of this.  But if you want a laugh, have a go at it.

 

Well that’s all for now!  Maybe we’ll post another one someday…maybe not…

Movies That Are So Bad They’re Not Even Worth Our Time, Christmas Edition (MTASBTNEWOT Christmas)

In our vast Christian entertainment viewing experience, we sometimes come upon films that we can hardly justify writing a full review for.  Therefore, for your convenience, so you don’t have to go watch those free films that invade your suggested watch list in on-demand video services, we’ve provided a quick overview here.  For now, here’s a collection of Christmas films that fall into this category.

 

It’s very hard to explain

Beverly Hills Christmas

This is barely a Christmas movie at all except that it’s based on the typically bizarre magic premise you find in many knockoff holiday films.  Dean Cain and a Meryl Streep lookalike star in this movie that’s filled with wacko works-based theology and abstract vague fantasy lingo and concepts.  Apparently some dead woman has to get into heaven by making her spoiled brat daughter act good, so she decides to bring a nice kid back to life by shooting lightning into his skull even though Dean Cain told her not to touch people.  It’s a shame this off-the-wall movie wasted a decent character arc and a remotely interesting idea.

 

Look, a rose!

Natalie’s Rose

Also barely a Christmas film (or a Christian one), this time about a horse named—guess what—Rose.  Basically, this movie wastes an hour of your time on farm footage and sitting around talking before coming to the shocking conclusion: the horse is a “special” horse that turns into a rose.  [ENTER GIANT FACEPALM HERE].  No joke.  The production is terrible and most people won’t even make through the entire slogfest to see the main character having hallucinations about glowing horseback riders at night.  How this garbage gets made is beyond us.

 

DAX!

The Heart of Christmas

When you use kids with cancer as props and parade vain Christian actors and actresses in front of the camera in some kind of lame attempt to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in a shameless commercial soliciting you for money, we don’t have much respect for you.  Sure, St’ Jude’s does some great things and helps families in need, but can’t we just have a normal movie without all the advertising, drama, and pageantry?  They didn’t even try to make this true story a realistic plot.  It’s really shameful when you have characters telling you to make donations.

Movies That Are So Bad They’re Not Even Worth Our Time, Part 3 (MTASBTNEWOT 3)

In our vast Christian entertainment viewing experience, we sometimes come upon films that we can hardly justify writing a full review for.  Therefore, for your convenience, so you don’t have to go watch those free films that invade your suggested watch list in on-demand video services, we’ve provided a quick overview here.  Someday we might post more, if we’re fortunate enough to find more.

 

We're drowning in a sea of Mormonism
We’re drowning in a sea of Mormonism

Rescued [2008]

In this special edition of MTASBTNWOT, we examine the three WisenQuest movies that were reproduced by Candlelight Media Group to put a Mormon spin on them.  That’s right: Island of Grace has a twin!  All they had to do was change some of the evangelical themes to Mormon themes.  But also for some bizarre reason, they changed all the names of the cast members, even though they are the same people.  Apparently they thought that by changing the names, you would never know this was the same movie.  How stupid do they think people are?

 

I'm totes converting to Mormonism now
I’m totes converting to Mormonism now

Turn Around [2007]

It’s just like Overcome, but with ‘different’ cast members and Mormon bishops!  Instead of Jaycee Lynn, it’s Jaci Twiss!  Instead of Aaron Brown, it’s Jordon Sorensen!  It’s also based on some kind of Mormon story about Alma the Younger (whoever that is) instead of loosely based on the Apostle Paul.  But does anybody really care?

 

I'm Mormon now!
I’m Mormon now!

Beauty and the Beast: A Latter Day Tale

Once again, Matthew Reese replaces Matthew Davis (not really, they’re the same guy).  This fairytale now has a latter day spin on it!  Seriously people, why would you pretend that it’s a different movie by changing the title and the cast member names but not the character names (oh look at that: they didn’t change Caitlyn E. J. Meyer’s name)?  What’s the point of copying on top of another film just so you can have a version that suits your section of beliefs?  Might as well copy all other Christian films and Mormon-ize them while you’re at it.

 

Well that’s all for now!  Maybe we’ll post another one someday…maybe not…

Movies That Are So Bad They’re Not Even Worth Our Time, Part 2 (MTASBTNEWOT 2)

In our vast Christian entertainment viewing experience, we sometimes come upon films that we can hardly justify writing a full review for.  Therefore, for your convenience, so you don’t have to go watch those free films that invade your suggested watch list in on-demand video services, we’ve provided a quick overview here.  Someday we might post more, if we’re fortunate enough to find more.

 

Our reaction to this film
Our reaction to this film

Heaven’s Door

Travel to a magical fantasy land where Dean Cain, that odd girl from Your Love Never Fails, and some other C-grade cast members discover the truth about the afterlife.  When the kid from the previously mentioned Hallmark movie accidentally kicks a soccer ball into a tree, she discovers that the tree actually holds a portal into the heavenly dimension.  If you don’t believe her, then shame on you.  Anyways, one thing leads to another and the girl’s psychic grandmother reveals to her that she talks to the girl’s unborn sibling (who died in a miscarriage) about how the portal will save her family from splitting apart or something.  It’s sort of like the teenage David A. R. White from Second Glance trying to save his family, but not really.  In the end, they all have to learn that talking to the dead will tell you the future and that this is somehow a Christian movie[/sarcasm].  If you don’t agree with this movie’s message, then you’re the Grinch who stole Hallmark cards.

 

Who knows what this cover is trying to convey
Who knows what this cover is trying to convey

This is the Day

With films like these, we can see why garbage like Princess Cut wins awards at film festivals.  If you can watch this film for five minutes without going batty from the incessant banging background ‘soundtrack’ and the constant fidgeting of several cast members, you can learn that the poor dying man lying in the bed with the trophy has cancer and he needs some seaweed to cure him.  Also, he needs his friend to find his daughter for him.  Any other dialogue was totally lost on us as we could not understand it due to the ‘soundtrack’.  God only knows what this nonsense is trying to convey.

 

Crosspoint

Most readers will probably never even find this ‘lost’ film as it was exclusively sold at a local church (we reserve the right to not disclose how we came upon a copy).  Basically, some lawyer guy likes to ride motorcycles with the ‘guys’ and his wife wants him to go to church and spend time with their son.  But he decides to ride one last time and his son goes out on a dangerous bike and crashes (offscreen) and ends up in the church hallway hospital under the care of a local mafia leader rich guy pretending to be a doctor[/insidejoke].  There’s not really much to be learned here since it’s so short and shallow; the acting is so bad that this can barely be classified as a movie.  We just had to include here for reasons.

 

Well that’s all for now!  Maybe we’ll post another one someday…maybe not…

Unexpected Places [2012] (Movie Review)

Is that another Christian film group calling?

Plot Summary

Pam likes to control her life.  She likes to persuade her boss to give her more power in the workplace and she likes to control the lives of her sons, even though she doesn’t agree with all their choices.  One son, a delinquent druggie, is sent to live with her and her husband so that he can begin to turn his life around.  The other son is living with his girlfriend and their child, with another on the way.  Pam wants her life to look nice and neat on the outside, so she takes steps in her own strength to make this a reality.  However, she quickly discovers that she cannot do everything and that she needs to look to God for her strength.

 

Production Quality (0 points)

Unfortunately, there is nothing positive to point out in this film.  From low quality video to terrible audio quality to shaky camera work, this one is a doozy.  Lighting is bad in a majority of the scenes, and the sets are very cheap-looking.  An annoying Hallmark soundtrack clanks the entire time, sometimes louder than the dialogue.  Transitions between scenes are very abrupt and some scenes appear to be missing.  This horrid editing job is basically just cut and paste—even if it means key information is cut off or left out.  It really seems like this crew had no idea what they were doing.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

We’re at a loss as to what this movie is even about.  With confusing dialogue filled with abstract figures and workplace lingo, it’s like the characters are malfunctioning robots.  The protagonist herself comes off a very dense and not connected to reality, even though she’s very serious about what she does.  The subplots are disjointed and appear pasted together from multiple different movie ideas.  The conflict therein is mindless and isolating; audiences are not able to connect with the struggles of the characters.  With no focus or main point, the storyline comes down to an empty ending that teaches a dangerous half-truth, which will be discussed at the end of this review.  Essentially, there was little reason for this idea to be approved for filming, let alone release.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Crystal Creek Media has a penchant for casting very wooden actors and actresses.  There is nothing wrong with using amateurs and they can certainly be coached, but coaching does not exist in Crystal Creek Media’s budget.  Cast members are emotionless throughout the film, delivering uninspiring monotone lines, like they’re reading from cue cards.  I’m sure they meant well, but it doesn’t show.

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, Unexpected Places simply does not properly deliver whatever message it is trying to convey.  What’s worse, the ending preaches a very dangerous idea: that when someone becomes a Christian, their life is automatically turned around in every aspect.  There is no question that when someone is saved by surrendering to Jesus, their life is totally transformed.  Yet this film appears to suggest that salvation takes away all of a person’s sin struggles; this is something that may confuse and frustrate those new to the faith.  In the end, few will find this film even fully watchable, which is just another testament to the sad state of Christian film.

 

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

 

Movies That Are So Bad They’re Not Even Worth Our Time, Part 1 (MTASBTNEWOT 1)

In our vast Christian entertainment viewing experience, we sometimes come upon films that we can hardly justify writing a full review for.  Therefore, for your convenience, so you don’t have to go watch those free films that invade your suggested watch list in on-demand video services, we’ve provided a quick overview here.  Someday we might post more, if we’re fortunate enough to find more.

 

The Young Believers

If you want to see the cheapest church skit ever, view this gem.  Starring less than fifteen cast members, a majority of the scenes consist of the four main characters awkwardly standing in front of a wall or a fence.  They spit out preprogrammed lines that demonstrate an isolationist Christian view of the world, as well as the world record for the usage of the word ‘dude’.  There are more production errors that can be counted and the acting is just horrific.  With no real plot to speak of, we decided that it didn’t warrant a full review.

 

Our thoughts exactly
Our thoughts exactly

Raising Izzie

Borderline Christian films are the worst.  Are they trying to be Christian or are they trying to make fun of it?  Who knows.  Regardless, this film depicts one of the most bizarre versions of Christianity we have ever seen, complete with magic blankets.  Characters scream at each other in the most annoying ways and you really never know what’s coming next.  The plot is based on such weird pretzel logic regarding child custody that we don’t even know who to believe on this one.  Anyways, just steer clear.

 

What you see is what you get
What you see is what you get

On Angel’s Wings

This one escaped from the Disney channel for sure.  Featuring a teenage girl with first world problems conversing with the reincarnation of Peter Pan (yes, there is an actual flying scene in this film), this one is a real drug trip doozy sprinkled with Christian themes.  Replete with music videos to the tune of free background music, this film is obviously disingenuous and one big joke, boasting one of the most half-hearted casts ever.  Only watch this one if you feel like a laugh.

What Audiences Want

Per the Calgary Herald, When Calls the Heart fans, also known as #Hearties, are very much in love with the Hallmark series because it’s family friendly and wholesome.  At the beginning of the show, there was an attempt to craft meaningful characters, and fans still hold on to this, even though character quality has significantly decreased since the inaugural season.  Michael Landon Jr. right hand man Brian Bird has said before that their show fills a deep desire in fans for wholesome entertainment.

So what does this mean?  It means that however cheesy and disappointing WCTH may become, they still have a devoted fan base because there’s nothing else. WCTH exists in a vacuum.  They were obviously trying harder at first because they had to, but now they don’t have to try because there’s no competition in their genre.  This is a sad reality, because there is so much potential in WCTH alone, but we firmly believe that this genre of TV series is largely untapped.  What if there were even better family-friendly weekly series on television and on-demand services?

Christian and inspirational viewers may like certain aspects of non-family-friendly entertainment (this definition is very broad and subjective), they still desperately want wholesome entertainment.  So where are the Christian creative geniuses?  Entertainment still remains to be another area where western Christians have allowed other ideas to fill the vacuum.  The inspirational genre is starved for quality creations.  Hallmark, despite their flaws, would likely approve any series that marketed well and was crafted for their target audience.  The vast world of on-demand entertainment remains untapped by Christians.

What we need is a generation of creative Christians to rise up and redeem entertainment by making better entertainment.  Due to financial constraints, they would obviously have to start out small, but it’s better to start somewhere than nowhere.  If God wants you to create redemptive entertainment, then He will provide.  We must be open to what God wants us to create, because as we have seen, entertainment has a profound effect on western culture and even the entire world.  Christian entertainment has too long been dominated by low-quality and propaganda-ridden sediment, and it’s time for that to change.