Prepare the Way!
3:1-6, the story of John the Baptist.
The Matrix is a complex film, with many religious undertones
(both Christian and other). While the movie is not a "modern
day" version of the story of Christ, there are parallels between the
Gospels and the film. Below you will find just a few of these
parallels. During our Faith & Film evening, we paid special attention
to the character of Morpheus as a John the Baptist figure:
- The film begins with a conversation between Cypher and Trinity.
Cypher (a Tempter / Betrayer figure) expresses doubts about Thomas Anderson
/ Neo's identity and questions Trinity's faith: Morpheus, says Cypher,
believes that Neo is "the One." "Do you?" he
- Morpheus, like John, know that the world needs a saviour, "the One
who is to come." Similarly, John too knows that one
more powerful is to come after him.
- When Morpheus first begins explaining the matrix to Thomas Anderson, he
declares "Welcome to the desert of the real." Similarly,
John the Baptist was one well familiar with the desert,
in which he separated what was really important from what the world seemed
to think important.
- When Morpheus first meets Mr. Anderson, he said "I've been looking
for you, Neo." Similarly, John the Baptist was looking forward to
the coming of Jesus.
Neo: It's an
honour to meet you.
Morpheus: No, the honour is mine.
This the conversation reminds us a little of the one between Jesus and John
John: I baptise you with water...but one who is more
powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his
sandals....I need to be baptised my you, and do you come to me?
Jesus: Let is be so now... (Matthew
- Just as Jesus is baptised by John, so too does Thomas Anderson go through
a sort of "virgin birth" and "baptism" (breaking out of
the power plant "cell," being washed through a long tunnel) after
he accepts the red pill offered by Morpheus. It is this
"baptism" which immediately preceeds Neo's "ministry."
- Agent Smith declares that "Morpheus... is considered by many
authorities to be the most dangerous man alive." John the Baptist
was also considered a danger by the authorities. Herod had him
arrested and eventually killed (Matthew
- Morpheus, declares the Oracle, will sacrifice his life for Neo's because
he believes in him. He believes that Neo is more important than
himself. Similarly, John the Baptist, who believes Jesus to be more
important than himself, loses his life to the authorities as a sort of
"forerunner" of Jesus.
Thomas Anderson / Neo is paralleled with Christ is numerous ways:
- "Thomas" was the name of the doubting apostle who ends up
declaring "My Lord and my God!" to Jesus. His name also
means "the twin," just as Neo is Jesus'
"twin." "Anderson" literally means "Son
of Man," a name Jesus used for himself. Once he accepts his
role as "the One," Thomas Anderson receives a new name:
"Neo." By the end of the film, in fact, when Agent Smith
calls him "Mr. Anderson," he is corrected: "My name
is Neo!" Neo is, in fact, an anagram of the "One,"
means "new" ...a term frequently used reference to
Jesus. (See, for example, I
Corinthians 11:25 or Revelations
- What frequently sounds like "using the name of God in vain"
in the movie can often be looked at as actual greetings. Thomas,
for example, is greeted at his apartment door with
"Hallelujah! You're my saviour, man! My own personal
Jesus Christ." Another time, when Neo is learning king fu,
someone declares: "Jesus Christ, he's fast!") And
at still another place, Cypher (who literally has had the "bejesus"
scared out of him) exclaims to Neo: "Jesus, what a mind
job! So you're here to save the world." And when Neo
fights the agent, Trinity says to herself, "Jesus. he's
- Thomas Anderson's boss accuse him of having a "problem with
authority....think[ing] that the rules do not apply to you."
Interestingly enough, Jesus was frequently accused of the same
thing. Look, for example, at Mark
- Upon Morpheus's ship, the Nebuchadnezzar, when Thomas Anderson (now
"Neo") is taking the tour, they pass by a sign which declares
"Mark 3, No. 11. Mark
3:11 declares of Jesus: "You are the Son of God!"
- Neo's choice to go after Morpheus looked crazy, and his friends tried
to stop him. "I know it looks like suicide," he
declares, "but it's not." Similarly, when Jesus decided
that he must go to Jerusalem and "undergo great suffering at the
hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed," Peter
tried to stop him, only to be rebuked by Jesus for not seeing the
larger picture. Trinity warns: "Neo, nobody has ever
done something like this before," to which Neo answers: "I
know. That's why it's going to work." Similarly, Paul
declares: "Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits
of those who have died. For since death came through a human
being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human
being... Christ is the first fruits, and then at this coming those who
belong to Christ." (I
- When Cypher is about to kill Neo, he declares "If Neo is the One,
there'd have to be some kind of miracle to stop me. I mean, how
can he be the One if he's dead?" Now compare this to the
words of the disciples on the
road to Emmaus, before they learn of the miracle of Jeus'
resurrection. Even Morpheus, the true believer, doubts when he
sees Neo die, declaring "Can't be!" And, in fact, it is
not so in the end.
Another parallel can be found with the character of Trinity.
Numerous indications tie her to the Holy Spirit, the third person of the
- One interesting reference is in the conversation between Thomas and
Trinity at the party, keeping in mind that much of the imagery for the Holy
Spirit is female, despite our tendency to view God as male. The Greek
word for Spirit is, in fact, Sophia:
Neo: How do you know my name?
Trinity: I know a lot about you....
Neo: I just thought you were a guy.
Trinity: Most guys do.
- The Holy Spirit is often "first on the scene" as God's
messenger. See, for example, the first creation story which speaks of
"a wind from God" (a symbol of the Spirit) sweeping over the face
of the water (Genesis
104:30). Another example is Jesus' baptism (Matthew
3:16) when the Spirit of God descends upon Jesus. Similarly,
Trinity is the first on the scene with Neo, seeking him out for Morpheus
through the computer and later at the party.
Neo: How do you know my name?
Trinity: I know a lot about you....
Neo: I thought you were a guy.
Trinity: Most guys do.
Zion is the name of the last city of humans and, as Tank declare,
"If the war was over tomorrow, Zion is where the party would be."
Similarly, Zion is another name for the heavenly Jerusalem, where Revelations
declares "the party to be" at the end of time!
The Oracle is a guide, one who helps people find their paths in
life. Potential saviours are presented to her for inspection and
guidance. She has been around for what seems like forever ("since the
beginning of the resistance"). Like many ancient oracles associated
with burned offerings, smell (the cookies) and smoke (the cigarette) are closely
associated with the Oracle. Similarly, soon after Jesus' birth he is
brought to the temple to be presented to the Lord, as is custom.
There there is a man named Simeon and a prophet named Anna, both of whom seemed
to have been there fore a very long time. Both declare that Jesus was
means for the salvation of God's people.
The Matrix itself can be seen as many things:
- Some declare that it is sin, which keeps us from our real lives in
Christ. We are born in sin, just as humans are born into the Matrix,
and we must be freed from it by "the One" who shows us the way
- The party-goer who arrives at Thomas Anderson's door at the beginning
talks about that "feeling where you're not sure if you're awake or
still dreaming?.. You need to unplug, man." Elsewhere, Morpheus
says to Thomas Anderson, "You have the look of a man who accepts what
he sees because he expects to wake up. Ironically, that's not far from the
truth." There are parallels with the Narnia's series which
describes this world as a mere shadow of the heavenly realm.
Similarly, Paul write that "now we seem in a mirror, dimly, but then we
will see face to face" (I
Corinthians 13:12). With this in mind, consider the scene with the
mirror when Thomas Anderson first enters the matrix.
"There is a difference between knowing the path and
walking the path."
In The Matrix, Morpheus calls Thomas Anderson to
be "the One," but he is not immediately ready to accept his
calling. During Advent, we are called to be ready for the coming of Christ
into our world... something which happens not only at Christmas, but all year
'round. Are you willing to accept this call, to make room for his coming?
To what are you personally called, but are reluctant to
For more about the film, check out its entry at the Internet
For another look at the film in connection with the gospel, check out the
entry at The Text
This Week or at Hollywood
Also, a simple look at spirituality and faith in The Matrix can be
found in The Gospel Reloaded by Chris Seay and Greg Garrett.
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