MIDLOTHIAN, Texas — The third season of the hit multi-season series "The Chosen" will premiere in theaters Friday and will tackle some of the tensions that come with being a follower of Christ.
The Christian Post visited the set for Season 3 of "The Chosen" — the most successful crowdfunded series of all time with over 400 million views, not counting DVDs — while it was still in production.
The show's creator, Dallas Jenkins, wanted to answer some of the tougher faith questions that many young people have today.
"It's one thing before you follow Jesus to have burdens that you don't know how to bear, and we struggle and were desperately longing to fill that God-shaped hole," Jenkins said in his video interview with The Christian Post. "Then we start following Jesus, and we're like, 'Hey, wait a minute, I still have some problems.' Jesus didn't promise that issues would go away."
Jenkins, son of the respected Christian author Jerry Jenkins of the Left Behind book series, has worked diligently to make "The Chosen" as successful as it is today.
"I think at the end of the day, my responsibility as the leader, the captain of the ship, is to be surrendered and to be a servant leader, but I also have to bring what God has given me," Jenkins said.
"We've got our head down, working very hard and making sure that we justify the faith that our fans have put into us and that God is giving us to steward."
The series focuses on the lives of those who closely followed Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry. The creator wanted to showcase that human tension in the third season.
"Simon Peter, who was Jesus's most passionate follower up until his death and resurrection, was still having many struggles, including even into the Book of Acts, you see him arguing with Paul," he said. "You're still the same human being who struggles after following Jesus."
The new episodes also dig into the personal and emotional struggles other Jesus' followers had in following the Lord's calling on their lives.
The disciple Little James, played by actor Jordan Walker Ross, is portrayed as a disabled follower who has yet to receive his healing. Ross has a real-life battle with cerebral palsy and scoliosis, which has led to a noticeable limp.
"James, who is disabled, we have a big scene in Season 3 where he comes to Jesus and goes, 'I got to ask, you're sending me out to heal others, and I'm not healed, what's the deal there? Why is that?'" Jenkins said.
The characters Simon and Eden have displayed the marriage dynamic of Christ's followers since the first season. Jesus acknowledges Eden and the burden that Simon's ministry with Christ takes on her.
In Season 3, Jenkins said Eden voices her displeasure with her husband being gone for so long.
"What's Jesus going to do for that?' And when they struggle and face some significant marital issues, where's Jesus in that?" Jenkins said.
"This is going to be a season where some of the hard questions, that I think especially young people have, are going to get explored."
Ross said in an earlier interview with CP that his disability made it difficult to book work as an actor until this role came along. He shared some additional details about his character.
"Little James, in 'The Chosen,' is very eager to help, servant-minded. But in Season 3, the honeymoon phase is over, and the frustrations and the reality of their situation is starting to sink in," Ross shared.
"Little James is beginning to feel some frustrations and resentment bubble up in terms of because he hasn't been healed and a lot of other people are being healed. That's something that Little James is going to have to address."
Ross said the tension displayed in the third season comes from the inexperience of the disciples.
"None of the characters at that point in their journeys have a ton of experience in this field in this line of work. They've just been students, so now, all of a sudden, when they're called to be the teachers and to heal, it's scary, and some of the groupings of the two by-twos aren't as compatible as others," he disclosed. "Little James, in particular, the fact that he has been asked to go heal people when he hasn't been healed is another thing that he has to kind of wrestle with."
Jenkins said the show has two missions.
"We do have a ministry and a mission and a calling to bring Jesus to the world. I want to introduce or reinvigorate people's passion for Jesus. But at the same time, I can't be responsible for that. When I sit in front of a blank computer screen or working with my co-writers on the scripts, or when I'm on set and creating a new scene from scratch, I can't be actually thinking about the viewer overseas. I can't be thinking about trying to please viewers or trying to avoid criticism. I have to be focused on making the best show that I possibly can," he told CP.
"The mission part of it, yes, I'm doing this because I have a mission to introduce Jesus to as many people as possible, but the number of people, the number of viewers, the level of criticism or praise that it gets, the impact that it has, I can't be focused on that," Jenkins said.
Jenkins concluded that God is responsible for the people spreading the word about the show.
"While we're writing, we do want whatever we do to result in someone knowing and loving Jesus more," he said.
Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic