Once in awhile I think things happen for a reason.

The other day, a fellow blogger I follow just happened to write a post about The Chosen, a new fictionalized series about the early days of Jesus’ ministry. I glanced at the trailer, went “later,” and continued on with my week. Then, another blogger (a pastor) talked about how it’s the best series about Jesus he has ever seen, so I decided to watch the first free episode.

I liked it so much, I bought the BluRay of the first season to share with my family. And it has done its work. We watched episode two the other night, and my dad, afterward, said, “Thank you. That was just what I needed, to remind myself… we will be okay.”

Most of you remember how much I enjoyed the short-lived, cancelled CBS series A.D. The Bible Continues. Well, this one is… different but just as good in terms of acting and scripts, and way better from a mainstream Christian perspective, since it’s not super violent. In the first episode, we meet Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, a couple of fishermen hard up on their luck. Simon wants to make a few bucks off cheating in a fight. Andrew is fretting about losing his boat since he can’t pay his taxes to the Matthew (who is my favorite character, outside Jesus; though Nicodemus is also awesome). The Romans tell a visiting rabbinic theologian, Nicodemus, to get his butt into the Red District and do something about a demon possessed woman there, who has no hope.

She finds her hope in Jesus, a man who mysteriously knows her true name, calls it… and changes her life forever. I have since blitzed my way through the remaining 7 episodes, grateful to have contributed to crowd-funding season two with my purchase, and… there is so much to love about this series. It is earthy. These people feel real. Simon and his friends drink at a tavern. Rich Jewish women get their hair done. They tease each other. They trade jokes. They parry insults. It’s funny. Very, very witty, but reverent.

My precious, ultra-logical Matthew… Mary Magdalene and Jesus.

“So,” one of Mary Magdalene’s friends says upon meeting Jesus, “Something good can come out of Nazareth.” Nobody laughs. A beaming Jesus, however, winks at him. Where did they meet? Mary’s first time hosting the Sabbath meal. Her first, of her new life. Who shows up to support her? Jesus. I cried.

I also cried when passing the tax collector’s iron-clad booth (since Matthew is hated, has dog poop thrown at him, and rocks leveled at his head, all off screen), Jesus asks him to come along. Matthew looks thunderstruck. His own parents won’t talk to him, and the man of miracles wants him? Simon goes, “Woah, Jesus, you don’t want that guy, you don’t know what he’s done.” And Jesus says, “You didn’t understand it when I called you, either.” Simon protests, “He’s too different.” Jesus replies, “Get used to different.”

SO MUCH LOVE. It’s touching. It’s meaningful. It’s crowd-sourced and written by believers. It’s nonviolent and something the entire family can watch. And its final episode of the first season ends in a beautiful place.

Maybe like me, you are sad to be stuck at home during Holy Week. Maybe you want to believe there are no coincidences “because the universe doesn’t get that sloppy.” Maybe you’d like to believe, as I do, that the first season being finished and made available mere weeks ago after a long time stuck in the crowdfunding, is because God knew we would need a mental ‘pick me up’ during this pandemic. That’s what I choose to believe. And I think if you watch it, you may feel a little more hopeful over the next few days, too.

You can support them and crowd-fund season two by watching the first episode here and purchasing the rest with a donation (a mere $15 gets you streaming rights to the season), or you cannot afford that, you can watch it for free on Vid Angel through the month of April – as their pandemic gift to you. I wish you a blessed and joyful Easter, my friends.