Especially when you look at the whole trilogy, The Matrix is clearly a Jesus story.
I don’t deny that there are significant ideas on loan from philosophy or other (mostly Eastern) Religious traditions. But at it’s core, the movies are an insightful spin on the story of Jesus.
A lot was written and discussed about the first movie in the trilogy. And the second was, to me at least, the weakest of the trio. Mostly I’m going to focus on the third movie and some of the more interesting (and generally accurate) theology it implied.
The first points that really struck me in the movie is when Neo interupts the big meeting onboard the ship. He’d spent some time alone, in order to be sure that he had to do what he thought he was supposed to do.
On the level of plot, it was sort-of clunky and artificial. This leads to the question of why was it in there.
The reason, I think, is to echo Jesus in the Garden at Gestheme… Jesus goes so far as to ask God the Father, one last time, if it has to go down the way it’s going to.
Shortly thereafter, Jesus and Trinity take off. Neo, like Jesus, is beaten. (Neo is blinded where as Jesus is whipped.) It is made clear, that despite his blindness, Neo is quite in tuned to spiritual realities. (Notice he can see the machines yet Trinity pilots the ship; even the POV shots that reviel how Neo views everything indicate that many things are quite luminious but his new way of seeing is much help in navigating the “real” world.)
One of the saddest scenes in the movie is the death of Trinity. It’s interesting, she says “This is as far as I can go with you.”
Again, this is kind-of a clunky way to express things on a literal level. The obvious response would be “No duh, you have a bumch of tentacle things sticking out of you.”
But the whole deal of the cross wasn’t the physical pain. It was the fact that when Jesus took sin on he was seperated from the rest of the trinity for the first time, ever. (To some extent, I think Morpheus represents God the father and Trinity represents the holy spirit… However you view it, Neo is seperated from the remained of God as he prepares to sacrifice himself.)
As Neo faces off with the machine-head, and the tentacles reach out to embrace him, his pose is clearly a crucifiction pose. (His perception of everything is clearly as crosses as well) Arms are out, feet together, etc.
The machine head itself is interesting. It’s indifferent overall to Neo’s fate, as Pontius Pilate. It thinks it has everything under control like Herod.
It’s true that Jesus is going to free the machines from the forces of Mr. Smith. There is no imediately obvious paralell.
Many believe that Jesus descended into Hell after the crucifiction. The whole entering into machine city has echoes of this, but Neo’s return to the matrix to fight the bazillions of Mr. Smiths also evokes the idea of Jesus’ entry into Hell. (And besides, the movie needed a climactic fight scene.)
If we work at a connection, though, theres two things worth noticing, two things that make this a closer paralell than it appears.
#1) The machines are made by humans… Neo doesn’t go directly to save humans from Hell like Jesus, but Neo does go to rescue the creations of humans.
#2) On the surface, Neo was engaged in acts of sedition just like Jesus. But the ramifications of this political sedition was everlasting and deep peace. (More on peace in a few paragraphs.)
As with Jesus, the liberation that Neo brings is grander than any body had hoped. (Perhaps the oracle got it, just as some of the old testament prophets might have gotten how grand the messiah’s revolution would be… But even Morpheus appears amazed when that the war is over.)
Viewed from this perspective, the zionist who yells to everyone that the war is over looks a lot like the apostles, proclaiming the good news. Of course the war that Jesus ended was the distance that sin put between us and God. And the conversation that ends the movie, we find out that those who choose to opt out of the matrix can enter into reality, just as Christ-followers believe that they, too, can enter into the fullness of reality by choosing to opt out of the materialistic illusions of the world. The peace that Neo brings is a restoration of what was meant to be: for the movie, a world where men rule machines is what was meant to be. For Jesus, the world that was meant to be is one where we experience relationship with God.
That final conversation also hints that Neo will return, an echo, perhaps of Revelations, or the other prophecies about Jesus’ return.