The Matrix as a Jesus story

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.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

2 thoughts on “The Matrix as a Jesus story”

  1. Interesting point. Neo’s hesitation at his role doesn’t match with Jesus’ acceptance of his. Seeing Neo as emblamatic of Christianity as a whole is interesting.
    There are some dramatic problems with turning Jesus into a protagonist. One is that he is perfect… Some Jesus stories focus, therefore, on the disciples, who are far from it. The Matrix solves this problem by making Neo unsure of himself and far from perfect, he of course, has to be pulled out of The Matrix in the first place. This does make him appear to be much more of an everyman.

    Like

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