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 /
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
"…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.
"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.