“People must know”
Christmas With The Chosen: The Messengers departs from the show’s usual recipe but does it well
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Christmas With The Chosen: The Messengers isn’t what I was expecting—not a bad thing—but don’t walk into the theater primed to see two hours of Biblical storytelling.
The episode itself is only about 35 minutes long, showing Jesus’ mother, Mary, as an old woman, with flashbacks to the first Christmas.
Most of the first 75 minutes and the last 10 showcase Christian artists singing powerful, modern arrangements of Christmas and worship songs. Between songs, performers make observations about Christmas. Others give monologues explaining the names of God, like Jehovah Shalom.
The singing and commentary initially surprised me, as I was eager to see the Biblical characters and reenactments. Authentic-feeling recreations are what have made The Chosen a smash hit, engaging audiences worldwide.
But as musicians like Phil Wickham, For King and Country, and Maverick City Music sang—and as other performers explained why God sent Jesus—I found my Christmas spirit rising. The Bonner Family’s powerful rendition of “How Great Thou Art” nails the film’s sentiments.
For several songs, enthusiastic children sing alongside artists, standing on stone steps and strolling cobbled streets. Most scenes—including these musical performances—were filmed on a football-field-sized set of Jerusalem located in Goshen, Utah.
The authentic landscape includes a stand of cedar trees designated the Garden of Gethsemane set where both cast and crew can get away for “prayer and alone time with God.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owns the set (The Chosen’s distributor, Angel Studios, was founded by Mormons).
When the account of Jesus’ birth begins, we hear realistic conversations between a calm, grateful Mary and a responsible, protective Joseph as they are about to enter Bethlehem. As Mary’s birth pangs increase, Joseph reassures Mary and reminds her of what the angel told each of them including, “Don’t be afraid.”
If possible, watch The Chosen’s pilot episode, “The Shepherd,” prior to this special. Both depict the first Christmas from different viewpoints and blend well together, heightening our wonder of those miraculous moments. But the new episode stands just fine on its own and is good for inviting someone who’s curious to learn what Christmas is really about.
The short dramatization begins by introducing a plausible storyline and adding a bit of tension.
We see a man guiding a horse-drawn wagon full of goods as he smuggles someone into an undisclosed city protected by Roman guards. He’s brought a special, secret visitor to see Jesus’ aging mother, Mary. Before she dies, she wants a message carried to Luke, who’s in Rome recording Jesus’ story through eyewitness accounts.
As scenes flash between Mary as an old woman, then back to her giving birth, she recites the Magnificat, including: “My soul magnifies the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God, my Savior.” She shares these treasures because “people must know.”
And that’s also the motivation behind Christmas With The Chosen.
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