November 10, 2003

The Matrix Messiah
"Then I said, 'Here I am, I have come- it is written 
about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my 
God; your torah is within my heart'" (Tehillim / 
Psalms 40:7,8).

Last week the third installment of the popular Matrix 
film series, "Matrix: Revolutions" was released. The 
Matrix films have a reputation of not being like a lot 
of other films. The special effects, the stunts, and 
the cinematography are just a few of its exceptional 
aspects. It is also rare to have a movie that combines 
advanced cutting edge technology with such an 
intriguing and captivating story line.

While the creators of the film have stated that the 
philosophy of the Matrix is drawn from many sources, 
there are some who find a great many parallels between 
the Matrix and the Gospel.

I would think that many who had been struck by the 
supposed parallels in the original film, were greatly 
disappointed by the immorality and philosophical 
confusion in the sequel, "The Matrix Reloaded."

But when I saw the original Matrix film, I was 
captivated. Although I was aware that the biblical 
parallels were not perfect, and that there was some 
questionable content, I had thought that I had 
encountered one of the most powerful, creative 
expressions of God's truth in our day. I was 
enraptured by the experience and watched it more than 
once in a short period of time, something I rarely do 
with a movie.

It took me quite a while after that to realize that 
the biblical parallels I thought I had seen, were not 
parallels at all. The story does have some striking 
similarities to the Gospel message, but the 
dissimilarities are even more striking.

The utilization of violence as a means of resolving 
human oppression, the world as we know it being an 
illusion, the absence of morality as essential to 
life, and salvation as a simple choice with no 
relation to the saving acts of a gracious God are just 
a few aspects that are completely contrary to the 
teaching of the Bible.

Yet somehow, when I saw the Matrix, I didn't notice. I 
thought I was watching biblical principals of 
salvation and the overcoming of oppression – of 
learning to live according to God' s reality instead 
of the devil's lies.

Somehow the Matrix's supposed similarity to truth 
blinded me to its predominant unbiblical philosophies.

Some time ago, Laurance Fishburne, one of the lead 
actors in the Matrix series, in an interview with film 
critic Paul Fischer, said regarding the Matrix's 
writers and directors, the Wachowski brothers, that 
they 

"…relied heavily on Greek mythology and primarily the 
old myths and the hero's journey, the reluctant 
messiah story, which is one of the oldest stories and 
has been with us in every culture, in every clime in 
some way or form. And they basically put it in a 
modern context and I think that's the thing that 
everybody connected to."

Reading Fishburne's "reluctant messiah" remark made me 
think. Reluctant messiah? How could I have ever 
believed that the Matrix was providing me with clear 
biblical parallels when the central figure to the 
story is so completely "other" than the true Messiah.

First, the true Messiah is anything but reluctant. 
Yeshua said,

"No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my 
own accord. I have authority to lay it down and 
authority to take it up again" (John 10:18).

Yeshua's willingness to give himself to free us from 
eternal death is only one of many ways he differs from 
the Matrix's version of a savior. Perhaps the greatest 
contrast is with regard to the Messiah's identity. The 
Matrix messiah needed to be freed himself from the 
Matrix before he could free anyone else. The True 
Messiah was born free. Although Yeshua came into the 
world as one of us, as the Son of God he possessed the 
inherent righteousness required to effectively release 
us from oppression and death, something the Matrix 
messiah could never do.

I am aware that the Matrix is just a movie. The 
writers don't claim that the Matrix is the Gospel. But 
what is it about the Matrix that has led so many to 
insist that its imagery is inherently biblical?

Maybe it is that we don't know the Bible as well as we 
think we do. Also many don't realize that history has 
been filled with religions and philosophies that, 
while they address similar themes to the Bible, their 
understanding of those themes and the solutions they 
offer are so very different.

The Matrix is correct in that we humans are in 
bondage. The Matrix is correct in that we need a 
deliverer. But as for the rest of the story, you won't 
find it in the Matrix.