Jesus in Primetime

Inspiration MinistriesBy Inspiration Ministries9 Minutes

Movie producers have been using the big screen to tell the story of Jesus since 1902, but a fresh vision for sharing the greatest story ever told has introduced millions to the life-changing power of the King of kings. Launching the idea several years ago, producer and director Dallas Jenkins set out to create a TV show in which viewers could get to know the New Testament cast of characters – including Jesus – personally.

The series quickly became an overwhelming success, and The Chosen is now in its third season of taping – well on its way to the goal of seven seasons. Along the way, the show has enjoyed God-sized miracles in funding, casting, writing, and production.

Jenkins recently talked with Inspiration Ministries and explained how the extraordinary financing of the project revealed God’s favor right from the start.

“The all-time crowd-funding record was 5.7 million [dollars], and we needed more than that to do this show well. But God had really pressed upon my heart the feeding of the five thousand. I was kind of in this loaves and fishes moment where I thought, ‘All right, it’s not my job to worry about that. I’m just going to bring the loaves and fishes.’”

And just as in the feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14), God took care of the rest!

As Jenkins moved forward with producing the early episodes, people were blown away by the powerful storytelling and humanity of the characters, donating in record numbers to see the first season completed.

“So we ended up shattering the all-time crowd-funding record, raising over ten million dollars from 15,000 investors around the world … It’s been a crazy ride. The feedback we’re getting from people has been huge. It’s been a really overwhelming and exciting journey,” shared Jenkins.

Although the series has been watched by over 50 million people, Jenkins remains grounded in humility when it comes to the show’s success. He remembers coping with the frustrations of failure after experiencing a difficult setback in his career just a few years ago. So he knows trusting God is a never-ending process:

“I was in a position spiritually where I was open to anything. I didn’t really have a certain future … so I said, ‘Lord, I’m just going to be open to what comes.’”

Jenkins used this time of waiting to pour himself into a Christmas video production for his local church. Intent on sharing a fresh look at Jesus’ birth, Jenkins told the story through the eyes of a lowly, despised shepherd. What was supposed to be a short film production ended up going viral online and provided the catalyst that would eventually become The Chosen series.

Jenkins said, “There have been movies, and there have been mini-series, but there has never actually been a multi-season video series where you can really dig into the characters and binge-watch it like you would binge-watch any other thing. I thought, ‘What a cool way to tell these stories and really enrich the experience of the life of Christ.’”

When it came to casting, Jenkins said that God’s hand was clear in every part of the process. “All of these actors were surprises. We didn’t know any of them. All of them are young. All of them are new – these diamonds in the rough. It was like God wasn’t going to make it a difficult decision for us. Each person who was cast for the project was cast within minutes of seeing them.”

Throughout production, the significance of telling Jesus’ story – and the difficulty of doing it well – has presented unique challenges. The weight of portraying Jesus’ humanity while conveying His divinity is felt deeply by both Jenkins and Jonathan Roumie, who was selected to play Jesus.

The first preaching scene so overwhelmed Roumie, in fact, that he went to Jenkins and said, “I need you to know how hard this is for me. I’m struggling to feel worthy.” Jenkins replied, “Me too. This is the story of this project. You’re not worthy. I’m not worthy. Now, we need to embrace that, trust He chose us for this, and won’t let us mess it up.”

Today, The Chosen’s determined, intense effort to walk on the holy ground of Christ’s life is changing lives – on set and around the world. As Jenkins shared with us, “It’s been truly unbelievable. I’ve been in the business for twenty years, and I haven’t experienced anything like this. We’ve heard from hundreds of people who have watched all the episodes multiple times.”

Testimonies from the web also speak volumes about the show’s lasting impact. Comments like, “For the first time, I feel like Jesus wants to be around me.” And “Last year I was about to commit suicide, but I watched how Jesus came to Mary Magdalene, and it literally saved my life.” Jenkins is quick to emphasize that The Chosen is not meant to be a replacement for the Bible. He encourages viewers to let the program be a catalyst for their self-discovery in the Word. However, the team does give great care to be biblically, historically, and culturally accurate. All scripts are reviewed by a Protestant scholar, a Catholic priest, and a Messianic rabbi. The writers then develop authentic personalities for the cast from scriptural accounts and cultural context.

Throughout the series, the writers use creative license to portray the beautiful, complex reality of flawed individuals interacting with Jesus. For example, when Mary falls back into sin and sobs, “I can’t go back to Him. He fixed me once, and I broke again,” we can see ourselves in her place, desperate for healing through His forgiveness.

And that’s where The Chosen series excels – tackling the issues of faith by revealing people’s vulnerabilities. Peter’s candid conversation with Jesus clarifies a common struggle: “We all agree on You, and we have a goal and your instructions. But getting there – sometimes there’s a lot of noise.” As believers, we all experience that noise. But by seeing Jesus walk out the Father’s will through the difficulties of real life, we get a glimpse of God’s desire to love us despite our sins and flaws, to heal us and draw us near.

And that’s the heart of The Chosen – to prepare souls to open up to God and receive His supernatural touch. It’s not just a simple message or plotline, but the experience of the show itself. The miracles of a man who lived two thousand years ago are just a side story to the real goal of the show’s creators. Their passion is to speak to a new generation about the power of our living Savior – bringing hearts to the Father and transforming lives through His love.