MIDLOTHIAN, Texas — Sometimes putting Jesus on stained-glass windows or making paintings of him can get in the way of who he is, Dallas Jenkins told the Deseret News after a long day of filming in June under the Texas sun.

While Jenkins said he thinks these depictions of Jesus are “lovely,” when it comes to his work as creator and director of “The Chosen,” he said, “What I try to do in the show is I try to remove the veil that we sometimes have and just say, this is what it would have looked like first century.”

“The Chosen” is a streaming series portraying the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s expected to run for seven seasons.

Since creating the show, Jenkins has sometimes said in interviews he’s trying to portray an “authentic Jesus.” While the Deseret News visited the set of “The Chosen” at Camp Hoblitzelle in Midlothian, Texas, Jenkins sat down for an interview to give more insight into who he thinks the authentic, real Jesus was.

“I believe that the authentic Jesus is first and foremost, of course, found in scripture,” Jenkins said. When it comes to scripture, there are different factors involved like the Jewish context, the historical context, what the ancient world he lived in was like and the relationships he had.

Related
‘The Chosen’ director Dallas Jenkins says, ‘We’ve got other Bible stories to tell’

Depictions of Jesus, personal vices or views “can get in the way of who Jesus is and the personal, intimate, direct relationship that he wants to have with us,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said since he and others who work on “The Chosen” weren’t there in first-century Israel, they can’t perfectly portray it. “But as much as possible, we want to portray accurately and authentically the cultural, historical and biblical context of his time,” he said.

As Jenkins has said in a video on “The Chosen” YouTube channel, he’s a self-described “conservative evangelical” and believes scripture is inerrant. Jenkins said he’s focused on “being authentic to the character and intentions of Jesus and the gospels,” but he’s not trying to appeal to a particular group.

“The fact that there are multiple faith traditions who either identify with or who are moved by our portrayal is not because I’m trying to appeal to Buddhists or people of no faith or evangelicals — I’m an evangelical — or Latter-day Saints, I’m just trying to tell the story accurately.”

The response to the series has excited Jenkins, who said people of faith or of no faith have been “moved by” the series. Some appreciate it because it’s “a good historical drama” or because they identify with the series. “But either way, I don’t go into it thinking I want to appeal to as many people as possible,” he said. “If that happens, that’s great. I go into it thinking I want to tell the story authentically.”

“I don’t want people to glorify the show to the point where they think this is a replacement for the Bible,” Jenkins said to The Oklahoman. “I’m saying from the beginning, that the show is not God’s word. Jonathan (Roumie), who plays Jesus is not Jesus. I’m not the creator of the universe. I’m a broken, flawed man ... who’s trying to do my best to capture the character and intentions of Jesus in the Gospels.”

Related
How ‘The Chosen’ is unifying people of different faiths and backgrounds

One moment on set when Jenkins said he thought the portrayal of Jesus really came together was during Season 1, when the crew was filming the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus.

“I was watching the filming of that going, ‘this really feels like what it would have been like,’” he said. “And it also looked exactly like how I envisioned it when we wrote it.” He also referred to the scene from Season 3 when Jesus walks on water as one where the portrayal came to life for him.

Jenkins’ decision to portray Jesus accurately is important to him; it’s part of how he defines the success of the show. He said he’s not concerned with box-office numbers or reach or awards — he cares about integrity.

Before making “The Chosen,” something changed for him. The last movie he directed, “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone,” didn’t do well at the box office, he said. His dreams seemed to fade and he said “God met me there and spoke to me,” and then he realized he didn’t care about box-office successes.

“I genuinely don’t care about the multitudes,” Jenkins said. “I care about five and two. I care about making sure that the loaves and fish that I make are as good and pleasing to God as they can be. And everything after that is just a bonus.”

Related
From high school teacher to Hollywood: how a former MGM content head joined ‘The Chosen’

He doesn’t believe he was ready to make “The Chosen” until he stopped caring about box-office successes and awards. “I just care about being authentic to Jesus. Why? Because I think that that’s what God wants. And I want to be wherever God wants.”

Since his definition of success has changed, Jenkins said he measures his own success now in a different way.

“And now all I care about is that if at the end of seven seasons, I kept my integrity, I was surrendered to God in the process, I was a good husband and father, I accurately, as well as I could, portrayed the character and intentions of Jesus in the gospels, that’s success,” Jenkins said.

Now Jenkins and “The Chosen” crew are filming the rest of Season 4 in Goshen, Utah. It’s expected to be released sometime in early 2024.