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How to use ‘The Chosen’ as you teach the New Testament

The Chosen

My first memory of watching a film about Jesus was as a 19-year-old in the Missionary Training Center. A large group of missionaries gathered to watch the Church’s video The Lamb of God. Sitting there, I felt something inside me shift as I watched its portrayal of Jesus Christ being crucified. I changed as the Holy Ghost testified to me of the power of Christ’s Atonement. Since then, I’ve watched many films about Jesus that have affected me deeply. There’s something about video portrayals that can help understand scripture.

It’s true that there can be drawbacks to watching depictions of historical events—because of their visual impact, these films can shape the way we picture events, sometimes in ways that aren’t historically accurate. For example, in The Lamb of God, the crucifiers used a complicated pulley system to hoist Jesus up on the cross. But the historical reality is that on some days, the Romans crucified hundreds of people. They didn’t build scaffolds and pulleys for all of them—this was an idea that came from a movie director, not historical sources.

My experience with The Lamb of God demonstrates some of the pros and cons of seeking Jesus by watching films. Yes, we may be able to feel the Holy Ghost, but we might also get incorrect ideas about the Savior. For me personally, and as a religious educator, the benefits of using video clips about Jesus far outweigh the drawbacks, particularly as we help learners become aware of the differences between scriptural text and video portrayal.

As my colleague Matt Grey has shared, movies can be a catalyst for learning about the Savior. He finds that by comparing films about Jesus with the New Testament text and historical sources, new questions and insights come to his mind. Grey says, “Often these questions come as I find myself wondering why film directors made certain decisions, how I might have presented things differently as a believing historian, and what the implications of those decisions might be for the spiritual experience of the viewers.”

▶ You may also like: How the hit television series The Chosen ended up being filmed on the Church’s Goshen film set

Such an approach to watching video depictions of the Savior can help us be informed viewers—an important skill to learn in our media-saturated culture.

Using The Chosen in Gospel Teaching

In recent years, many Christians—myself included—have been excited about the new video series The Chosen. One of the secrets of The Chosen’s success is the color it adds to historical events without deviating widely from what is known from the Bible.

Dallas Jenkins, director of The Chosen, said, “Movie Bible projects are usually stiff, formal—they go from bible verse to bible verse, … and everything is very, very black and white. I think we have to round the edges a little bit, making this show feel a lot more human [by adding backstories, humor, and human interactions].”

▶ You may also like: ‘He was born to play this role’: Director of The Chosen discusses the process of casting the role of the Savior

Because The Chosen has become so beloved, Latter-day Saint parents and teachers may want to use clips from the show as they teach the New Testament in Come, Follow Me this year. But tracking down the right clip might be difficult. For example, in John 1 Jesus calls Nathanael to follow him. A parent might vaguely recall that this scene is depicted in The Chosen but not remember which season or episode it came from.

That’s why I’ve created a resource to help parents and teachers find short, scripturally relevant clips from The Chosen. On this page, you’ll find links to short clips from The Chosen organized by the week in which they appear in Come, Follow Me. I’ll continue to update this page as clips from season 3 and beyond come available. For now, here’s the list of relevant videos for the first six weeks of the 2023 year of Come, Follow Me.

How to Use Video Clips from The Chosen

One of my favorite ways to use any video clip, including those from The Chosen, is as an activity to prepare people to engage with the scriptures. For example, you could show a video clip and then have people read the associated verses and answer questions such as the following:

  • What parts of the scripture and video clip were the same?
  • Which parts were different?
  • Why do you think the movie directors made the decisions they did?
  • How would you film this scene differently?
  • What does the video add to your feelings and understanding about this scene?

Another approach is to have learners read the scripture passage first and then watch the video. This allows learners to be thinking about the types of questions above as they watch the video. In some cases, I think the best thing to do after a video clip is to have a thought-provoking question for people to discuss.

For example, after showing students a video clip of Jesus healing the man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5) you could invite students to write down an answer to this question: “When have you, or somebody you know, experienced the healing power of Jesus Christ?”

President Russell M. Nelson taught, “Nothing invites the Spirit more than fixing your focus on Jesus Christ.” While watching video clips about the Savior certainly doesn’t replace scripture study, it is one avenue that can help us fix our focus on him. For me personally, short, scripturally relevant clips from The Chosen have been spiritually moving. I hope they will be for you as well.

▶ You may also like: Is there a Book of Mormon quote in The Chosen season 3?

Seeking Jesus

Check out John Hilton’s free online course, “Seeking Jesus,” for more ideas to help you learn all you can about Christ from the scriptures and other sources, such as modern prophets, music, artwork, movies, and modern scholarship.

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