Nancy Kennedy Column, June 6

I may be a bit late to the party, but I’ve started watching “The Chosen,” the gritty TV series about the life of Christ as seen through the eyes of those who encountered him when he walked on Earth. So far I’m on episode five of eight in season one -- and I’m hooked.

“The Chosen” is about the people Jesus chose to follow him. Spoiler alert: Not one of them we would describe as “choice.” We have a tendency to elevate the characters in the Bible. Think of Charleton Heston as Moses in “The Ten Commandments” or Sunday school stories of brave little David and his slingshot taking down the giant Goliath and then going on to become king.

But God’s people have always been sinners and scoundrels. Mary Magdalene was possessed by demons until she encountered Jesus. The apostle Paul hunted down and ordered the deaths of Christians until Jesus knocked him down and temporarily blinded him (and then restored and redeemed him).

Peter was a hothead. Matthew was a hated tax collector. God chooses the nobodies and the not-good and the failures to carry his message of hope and redemption to other nobodies, not-goods and failures.

At my church, we just finished a sermon series, “Encounters with Jesus,” with each message emphasizing that none of us are choice, but because of Jesus, we can be counted among those who are his chosen. “But you are a chosen people...that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light,” wrote the apostle Peter (1 Peter 2:9).

In “The Chosen,” the writers take the gospel characters and flesh them out to portray them as imperfect and affected by the prevailing darkness of the world -- they were as we are in the 21st century. And one by one, as they encounter Jesus, they’re transformed -- just as we, too, are when we encounter him. Jesus told a religious leader, Nicodemus, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).

We who have encountered Jesus carry this same message in our feeble, earthly bodies, “jars of clay,” as the apostle Paul describes. “That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us,” Paul writes. “As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at” (2 Corinthians 4:7 The Message).

This is the power of Christ in us, the hope of glory. The character Mary Magdalene in “The Chosen” says to Nicodemus, “I was one way and now I am completely different. And the thing that happened in between was Him (Jesus).” Jesus came to seek and save, to choose the “unchoosables.”

He still does that, encountering people who are lost in their darkness, changing them from the inside out and then sending them out as his chosen to change the world with the message of transforming grace for all who want it.

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria — I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing” and “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927 or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.