How The Chosen Proves “He Gets Us” and Our Idolatrous Hearts

Jacob Tanner

a heart shaped neon sign in the dark

People always say that one of the highlights of the Superbowl is the commercials. Some who don’t watch football all year long will watch the Superbowl primarily to watch the ads. Companies spend literal millions on these thirty second ads. Why anyone would actively seek to watch commercials is beyond me, but there are obviously some who do. 

Anyone watching the 2024 Superbowl would have noticed that there was an ad from an apparently “Christian” company for Jesus. The ad was “He Gets Us,” and the major theme of the commercial was a series of pictures depicting people washing other people’s feet. The sort of “tagline” to the commercials was the idea that Jesus did not hate anyone but was “inclusive.” He washed the feet of sinners and, therefore, we must do the same and cross barriers to love everyone, rather than hate anyone.

Of course, there was division over the commercials, just as there was in 2023. Some loved them and were just happy that Jesus was being mentioned and introduced to the millions watching the Superbowl. For them, theological nuance was unnecessary—they were just happy to get “the message of Jesus” out. Others, like me, were frustrated by the commercials. They were examples of breaking the third and ninth commandments, at the very least, as they took the Lord’s name in vain by bearing false witness about who Jesus truly is.

But as I watched the commercials, one thing was abundantly clear to me: The idolatrous concept of a Jesus who is, ultimately, just a bigger and better version of us is the picture of Jesus that has captivated people for several years now, and people love it. Consider, for example, The Chosen

The Chosen is obviously an issue to many because it offers a visual depiction of Jesus, which some view as a second commandment violation. But, beyond the second commandment issue is the same exact issue proffered by the “He Gets Us” campaign: It offers audiences a false Jesus, thereby breaking the ninth commandment by bearing false witness about who he is and breaking the third commandment by taking Jesus’s name in vain with this false witness.

There are problems common to both the “He Gets Us” campaign and The Chosen. But their popularity offers some valuable insight into the minds of people and the problems the church at large faces in the twenty-first century. So, let’s utilize the “He Gets Us” tagline to explain what Jesus actually gets about us and what he now commands us to do because of this.

Jesus Gets Our Idolatry and So He Reveals Who He Really Is

The “He Gets Us” campaign and the popularity of The Chosen remind us that idolatry is very much alive and real today. People are swift to make gods in their own likeness and image. Rather than embrace the true Jesus, sinners would rather reinvent him. They may use the same name, but make no mistake: The Jesus they are selling is not the true Jesus revealed in the Scriptures.

Let’s review some of the Ten Commandments. “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:3). This is a clear warning against idolatry. To worship another god of your own imagination, or one that is depicted in an ad campaign or TV show, is a violation of the first commandment.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Ex 20:4–6). Here, again, we have a warning against idolatry, but we are also being warned against trying to turn God into something other than what he truly is; namely, you cannot make Jesus into a better version of yourself. To do so is a second commandment violation.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Ex 20:7). Typically, we imagine this commandment is simply talking about swearing or cussing by using the Lord’s name, but again, the commandment entails more than this. Here, we are being commanded to not invoke the name of the Lord in reference to something else. In other words, don’t make or invent a different Jesus for your commercials, campaigns, or TV shows and claim that he is exactly the same as the Jesus of Scripture. To do so is a third commandment violation.

And, of course, we have the ninth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex 20:16). Though humanity is clearer in view in this commandment, it obviously also includes the Lord. We are commanded to not tell lies, and certainly we must not lie about who the Lord is. To tell lies about Jesus, whether for an ad campaign or a TV show, is to violate the ninth commandment.

So, what does this establish? That “He Gets Us” and The Chosen are violating the first, second, third, and ninth commandments, at the very least. Their popularity and support are evidence that the human race, in our sinful estate, is just like the Judah of Jeremiah’s day. Sure, we may try to say that we have not played the harlot with other gods, but The Chosen and “He Gets Us” tell a very different story. As the Lord spoke to the Jews in Jeremiah’s day, so he speaks to us today:

If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s wife, will he return to her? Would not that land be greatly polluted? You have played the whore with many lovers; and would you return to me? declares the Lord.

Lift up your eyes to the bare heights, and see! Where have you not been ravished? By the waysides you have sat awaiting lovers like an Arab in the wilderness. You have polluted the land with your vile whoredom.

Jeremiah 3:1–2

Anyone who watches The Chosen or participates in the “He Gets Us” campaign should be forced to ask these same questions. How have these things not contributed to their whoredom and idolatry? These are not true depictions of Jesus. Those who buy into them will be ravished by them.

So, knowing our tendency towards idolatry, Jesus does not leave us in the dark about who he truly is. He does not leave us to wander aimlessly. He gives us his Word and, in his Word, reveals himself. As he said in John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” The Scriptures bear witness about Jesus. They don’t just tell us how to find eternal life in Jesus, but they actively explain to us who God is, what he has done, what he is doing, and what he is going to do. They tell us how we are to respond to him and how we are to live within this world that he has created.

Would someone watching the “He Gets Us” foot washing commercials know anything about Jesus? Probably not. They may walk away with a confused understanding of Jesus and a belief that Christians in general have an odd fascination with feet, but that would be the end of it. Likewise, The Chosen frequently portrays a Jesus that, quite simply, didn’t exist. When people fall in love with these depictions, they commit the most heinous acts of idolatry imaginable.

We don’t need 2-d caricatures of Jesus. We need the true Jesus. So, read and study the Scriptures! They’ll require more effort than watching TV, but they are infinitely more valuable than Hollywood production.

Jesus Gets Our Sin and So He Calls Us to Repent

One of the biggest issues of the “He Gets Us” campaign is that it offers up a Jesus who is only love. Now, it is true that God is love (1 John 4:16). The problem, as R. C. Sproul famously pointed out in his Holiness of God teaching series and book, is that God is never referred to in the Scriptures as “love, love, love.” Never is he “nice, nice, nice,” or “kind, kind, kind,” or “gracious, gracious, gracious.” He is, however, referred to as, “holy, holy, holy” (Is 6:3; Rev 4:8). Of course, this does not mean that God is more holy than he is loving, or more loving than he is gracious. Rather, it means that we simply cannot highlight one of God’s attributes over and above another. 

Without attempting to start a different theological debate, it is helpful to affirm that since God is not composed of parts, his attributes cannot be viewed as pieces of himself which are either lesser or greater than other pieces of himself. He has no pieces. While a human being may be more gracious than they are vengeful, or angrier than they are kind, such distinctions are impossible in God. He is the great I Am (Ex 3:14). He is not like us. This is why the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession states that God “is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations” (2.3). His attributes are not divisions or parts of his being, but one and the same. In our grammar about God we make distinctions between the attributes, but this is merely because of our creaturely limitation. As the Confession states prior to this:

The Lord our God is but one only living and true God; whose subsistence is in and of himself, infinite in being and perfection; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but himself; a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him, and withal most just and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.

1689 Second London Baptist Confession, 2.1

So any depiction of Jesus that attempts to highlight one of his attributes as being more important than another is, without a doubt, sinful. It is idolatrous. It is the equivalent of attempting to create a false god in our own likeness and image.

But notice again how paragraph 1 ends in article 2. We are told that God is “most just and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.” This last line is vital in our discussion of how God “gets” our sin, how he deals with it, and what he commands us to do with it. Contra the “He Gets Us” campaign, God does not love everyone the same. Yes, there’s a general love and grace displayed towards all creation. You woke up this morning, after all, when God could have struck you down instead. But there’s also a specific electing love which God displays only towards his chosen saints (Eph 1:4–5). 

When sinners live according to their nature and they sin, God absolutely “gets” it. And he’s furious about it. As Psalm 5:4–5 plainly state, “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.” Here, we read that God actively hates the evildoer. Does this divine hatred cancel out his perfect love? Of course not. God does not have parts. He is undivided and indivisible in his essence and being. But from our limited creaturely understanding and human vantage point, we cannot deny that, towards his enemies, God is wrathful.

So, what does Jesus call us to do? “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). This is the only proper response to have to Jesus and the gospel.

Jesus Gets Our Rebellion and Promises Judgment Upon Those Who Don’t Repent

“He Gets Us” seems to suggest that Jesus, in some sort of “all-inclusive” attitude, will simply love everyone equally and without measure. The campaign suggests that because Jesus was known to be a friend of sinners, he will obviously befriend every sinner everywhere with no expectations of their repentance. Clearly, this is a Jesus who never judges anyone for anything. The Chosen seems to depict Jesus in much the same light.

Jesus, however, does not invite sinners to come to him and remain as they were. He calls sinners to come to him in humble repentance, confessing him as their Lord and Savior. Those who refuse will not find Jesus washing their feet but instead pouring out wrath upon them, eternally. “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (Heb 10:26–27).

The message of the gospel is not “Jesus is all-inclusive and you are perfect just the way you are.” The message of the gospel is “Jesus is exclusively the way to Heaven because he alone is perfect. Now, repent of your sin, trust in him as your Savior, and follow him as your Lord.”

Let’s do away with the idols and caricatures. We need the true Jesus.

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Jacob Tanner

Pastor Christ Keystone Church

Jacob Tanner is pastor of Christ Keystone Church, a Reformed Baptist church plant in Central Pennsylvania. He lives with his wife and two sons and is the author of Union with Christ: The Joy of the Christian’s Assurance in the Doctrines of Grace.