The Chosen’s 4th episode, “The Rock On Which It Is Built” may be the worst episode yet, not from an entertainment standpoint but from a biblical standard for sure. After episode 3 which appears to be the high water mark of the series, depicting a noncanonical event in what I saw as a faithful attempt, the next episode strays into the realm of false teaching being depicted by their version of Jesus.
The episode follows two main plots: Simon the failed fisherman and investigator Nicodemus. Simon the snitch fails to deliver on his previous promises to the Romans and then attempts to extort Zebedee. He then confesses his financial situation to his wife. Matthew is appointed by Quintus to spy on Simon but is obvious in doing so. He tries to convince Simon to turn himself in, but Simon insists he has one more day.
It’s worth noting that this entire plotline of a massive tax debt is made to make the show seem relatable as the Roman taxation system was far less of an encumbrance than what we pay in taxes today. Income tax which Simon owed would have ranged from 1-3%, less than Social Security, which can hardly accumulate to a boat repo and a home foreclosure, especially as the show did not establish Matthew as a Zacchaeus like thief.
The plot climaxes after Simon goes fishing all nigh and catches nothing, with Andrew, James, and John joining Simon midnight to fish. Jesus is teaching a crowd on the shore in the morning in parables and insists that Simon partake in the parable by lending his boat.
The parable that Jesus teaches then contains false teaching. The Chosen’s Jesus speaks of a fisherman who casts his net and gathers. He then states that the fisherman with gather his net and sort out the good fish from the bad fish. Jesus explains the parable as that in the day of judgement the “angels will come and separate the evil from the righteous.”
The Chosen tries to fabricate a parable using Matthew 13:37-43, only The Chosen conflates the God character of the parable with the angel characters of the parable. Moreover, it ignores the grand plan and spiritual warfare of the parable they were attempting to emulate. The message that the viewer easily could have gotten for the The Chosen’s parable is that good people go to Heaven. This stands in contrast to the sower in the Bible who plants wheat in which tares are sown by Satan. This may be a Mormon influence on the show.
After Jesus calls Simon, the other new disciples are treated as tagalongs. He says that they will be catchers of men and that this means they will catch the men and Jesus will sort them out. This is a megachurch mentality of putting butts in seats and letting Jesus sort them out when they die. The church is not called to gather men and let God do the sorting. We have a Great Commission. We are called to preach the gospel and disciple new believers. We are called to enact church discipline on the unrepentant not simply let God do the sorting after death.
The Nicodemus plot with John the Baptist is a glaring missed opportunity for the show. John the Baptist would be an interesting character to depict in television given his lifestyle and preaching. But the show chooses not to depict him until he is in a jail cell after the baptism of Jesus. This is a bad writing decision, as John the Baptist was a major figure at the time.
Overall, from a television standpoint, the writing and historical errors are glaring. The miracle with the fish was depicted in knee-deep water, undermining previously lofty production value. Most importantly, this was not a faithful depiction of Jesus in Luke 5. They portray Jesus teaching error as it relates to angels and setting up a false mission for the church.