• Thomas Bonifield

Dallas Jenkins Discusses the Most Controversial Moment from "The Chosen"

Updated: Jan 10

The creator/director of this series about the life of Christ once again addresses the scene that depicts Jesus' rehearsing The Sermon on the Mount.

Jonathan Roumie who portrays Jesus in the series, appears in a scene from Season Two.
Jonathan Roumie, who portrays Jesus in the series, appears in a scene from Season Two. Image: "The Chosen"/Instagram.

If you are a dedicated fan of The Chosen, then you almost certainly remember this hotly contested moment from Season Two. It appeared in episode five and shows the Jesus character - played by actor Jonathan Roumie - alone at night at the water's edge practicing what he will say in The Sermon on the Mount.


Though on screen for just a matter of seconds, the scene touched off a firestorm of criticism, as we wrote after its release last May. The vociferous response from viewers prompted an at-times heated 45-minute livestream answer from show creator and director Dallas Jenkins, who endeavored to address the controversy when it happened (you can watch it here on the program's Facebook page).


Dallas Jenkins (second from left) takes part in a discussion about the controversial sermon rehearsal scene.
Dallas Jenkins (second from left) takes part in a discussion about the controversial sermon rehearsal scene. Image: "The Chosen"/Instagram.

Seven months later, in much more measured tones, Jenkins is revisiting the rationale behind that sermon rehearsal scene. He does so in a roundtable discussion with the three Bible consultants who go over all scripts for The Chosen: messianic rabbi Jason Sobel, New Testament scholar Dr. Doug Huffman and Bishop Robert Barron, a Catholic theologian.


Their interaction, appropriately entitled "Did Jesus Practice His Sermons," is on social media and features the scene itself, followed by a nine-minute breakdown of the matter at hand. Jenkins says the scene was meant to bring up the issue of Jesus' being "fully God, fully man," and how that played out in His daily life, which the director adds has "been debated for centuries."


The three experts seem to agree that it was at least a plausible possibility that the Savior may have engaged in such preparation for a sermon. Jenkins has previously stated that The Chosen is not meant to be "a verse-by-verse reenactment of the Biblical narrative" - and the scene in question is most definitely extra-Biblical - but rather a "historical, character drama" inspired by The Bible. In the roundtable, he makes clear that artistic license was at play when he wrote and directed the scene.

"It's not fact. I don't know that He needed to prepare a sermon...I'm not claiming I know it for sure."

Jenkins' distinguished interlocutors add much erudition and elucidation to the discussion and are worth listening to, which you can do via this link to the social media post. Judging by the heated debate in the comment section of our original article about this matter, however, we suspect opponents of the rehearsal scene are unlikely to be won over.


As for what's on the horizon for the show, season three is now fully financed and Jenkins and his team plan to start production in the spring. There is no word yet on when those eight episodes will be released, but Christian Film Blog will update you when the information becomes available.