The Matrix as Messiah Movie

The Matrix - A Cyberpunk Parable?

B. THE PARABLE

1. TRACKING: Confusion, Contact, and Conviction

1a. Apartment

KEY:
M = The Matrix Story
S = Spiritual Parallels

 

M. Neo, the protagonist, initially goes by the name 'Thomas Anderson' in public.
S. The name 'Thomas' reminds us of the disciple of Jesus that history has nicknamed 'Doubting Thomas'. Similarly, Thomas/Neo often struggles with belief – first as a lost man coming to the truth, then as a saved man doubting his position.
 
M. Thomas will later be called 'Neo'. (To strengthen the allegory, we will call the character 'Thomas' until he takes the red pill, and afterward we will call him 'Neo'.)
S. The name 'Neo' means 'New'. The names of 'Thomas' and 'Neo' contrast the old and new conditions. Scripture says that when a sinful man comes to salvation, he is a "new creature, the old things passed away" (2 Corinthians. 5:17). 'Thomas' is the old, 'Neo' is the new. When the Fed-Ex man brings the package to Thomas/Neo's cubicle early in the film and asks, "Thomas Anderson?" Thomas replies, "Yeah, that's me." This acceptance of the name indicates his initial lost condition and blind immersion in it. After Neo is saved from the Matrix, Agent Smith continues to call Neo "Mr. Anderson", to which Neo replies with conviction, "My name is NEO," signifying his understanding of his new self. To parallel Satan's persistence, Agent Smith calls Neo "Mr. Anderson" 11 times in the film. In contrast, Morpheus and crew always call him "Neo", reinforcing the truth of who he wants to be, and who he indeed becomes after salvation.
 
M. When we first see Thomas, he is sleeping. It is apparently nighttime. Thomas is wearing black.
S. The terms 'sleep' and 'darkness' are used to describe a lost person in scripture. "We are not of night, nor of darkness, so let us not sleep as others do…" (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5). Until he is saved, Thomas IS always literally asleep in his womblike pod of the machine 'power plant' in the real world! This is a striking portrayal of how a lost person is spiritually asleep even though he perceives himself awake in a fallen world.
 
M. As Thomas sleeps, his computer is "Searching…"
S. This is the first indication of Thomas' discomfort with his life. He is searching, which is the key to finding truth. "Seek and you will find…" (Matthew 7:7). Trinity later confirms this searching when she tells Thomas, "I know why you hardly sleep, why you live alone, and why night after night you sit at your computer. You're looking…" Thomas lives alone, which reflects his desire to separate from a fallen world.
 
M. The media on Thomas' computer seems to portray Morpheus as a wanted criminal worldwide, when in truth Morpheus is a good man who wants to save humanity.
S. This might be paralleled to much of the blatantly anti-God / anti-Christian media of today.
 
M. The computer screen clears and a message appears from Trinity, who comes from outside the Matrix world. Trinity warns: "Wake up, Neo. The Matrix has you!" And he wakes up!
S. The 'Trinity' character may at times portray God. God is paradoxically depicted in scripture as a Trinity – a single Being, yet made up of three Persons known as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This scene parallels the Spirit of God convicting the lost person of his dire condition. "Wake up! [Sin and the fallen world] has you!" Or as Ephesians 5:14 puts it, "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Thomas strangely awakens as if he somehow heard the message internally, which hints at the spiritual nature of the warning.
Trinity does not live in the Matrix illusion; she came from outside it. Similarly, Jesus said, "I am not of the world" (John 17:14). Scripture states clearly that Jesus Christ was not just a mere man - He was God Himself, come to earth as a man (Colossians 2:9, Philippians 2:5-11, John 1:1,14, etc.). Just as Trinity's words on Thomas' manmade computer were a message written by someone from the outside world, the scriptures also claim to be a supernaturally inspired message from God to mankind as human writers were controlled by God's Spirit.
Trinity initiates contact with Thomas, just as God takes the initiative in salvation: "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…" (Jesus in John 6:44). God will draw, man must respond.
 
M. Thomas tries to remove the warning message.
S. The conviction of sin and eternal danger is disturbing. It affronts our pride, and we don't want to hear it. The lost person tries to regain 'CONTROL' of his thoughts from the disturbing impulse (Thomas hits the 'CONTROL' key), and when that fails, he may try to 'ESCAPE' it as well (Thomas hits the 'ESCAPE' key).
An interesting triple metaphor occurs here. Thomas knocks the 'ESCAPE' key twice, the computer says 'knock' twice, and then Choi knocks twice on Thomas' door. For every knock of the 'ESCAPE' key, Trinity answers with a written 'knock' back to Thomas, showing Gods' persistence in knocking on the heart of the lost person. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him…" (Revelation. 3:20). Trinity's prediction of the knocks on Thomas' door parallels the omniscience of God.
 
M. Thomas is a computer hacker who peddles software to Choi. (Technical Note: The film credits list this character's name as 'Choi', and not 'Troy')
S. Hacking is illegal. Choi and his cronies are obviously 'bad company' in the moral sense. Thomas is a sinful man - a lawbreaker - who has sinful friends.
On a deeper level, here is one of the most fascinating ironies of the film. Thomas thinks that he is hacking into computers, but in truth, the Matrix computers control Thomas' entire existence - even allowing him the illusion that he is ‘hacking’, if that will pacify him! The prison allows some illusionary escapes to keep the prisoners oblivious to the real problem!
To parallel spiritually, the fallen world fools it's prisoners with meaningless progress, like the 'rich fool' in Luke 12:20 who focused on earthly riches but neglected his eternal state. An equally deadly deception occurs when lost people believe they are saving themselves by doing good works, making political changes, etc., 'hacking' away at the evils in the world and themselves. However, God declares the nature of our problem is spiritual and that only He can remedy it for us through Christ.
In another angle, Thomas' vain attempts to hack the system as a lost person both contrast and foreshadow his victorious 'hack' of the Matrix once he is 'Neo/New'.
 
M. Thomas puts $2000 in a hollow copy of postmodernist Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation. The camera lingers on the chapter titled On Nihilism. Thomas lives in the pinnacle of a 'simulacra', the image that has no underlying truth. Thomas' world and the futile persona he has developed in it are based completely on illusion; the fallen real world is vastly different.
S. Man, created in the image of God and placed in a perfect world, severed himself from his Creator by rebellion. And unless he reconciles with God through Christ, a man crafts his own futile image apart from truth, for God is Truth. An unsaved man is dead even as he thinks he lives; the trimmings of his worldly life are a vain and temporary mask covering his lost spiritual and eternal state. We focus on the tangible and glory in our civilizations, yet God regards our fallen state to be as bleak as the postwar cities in The Matrix.
The dictionary defines 'nihilism' as: 1) A doctrine that all values are baseless, that nothing is knowable or can be communicated, and that life itself is meaningless. 2) The belief that destruction of existing political or social institutions is necessary for future improvement.
Perhaps Thomas has been 'putting his money' on the aspect of nihilism that says nothing is knowable. But this philosophy has left him as hollow as the hole in the chapter. Thomas will leave that empty, despairing philosophy behind and find that there is indeed a knowable salvation and truth.
As to future improvement, Thomas will not find it by using the rules of the Matrix to fight the Matrix - illusionary 'hacking' against an illusionary world. Instead, Thomas will only bring change by escaping the very Matrix itself and attacking it in the power of the truth. In the same way, a man must find salvation in Christ to escape being a part of the fallen world, and then he must walk by faith in God to make a true difference.
 
M. Choi, the 'worldly wiseman', admits his constant use of mescaline. He and his sultry companion DuJour invite Thomas to 'unplug' for some rest and relaxation by going to a dance club with them.
S. Choi represents the escapist. His solution to 'unplug' (be saved) is to forget the problems of life by using drugs, which he takes 'all the time'. Choi tells Thomas that 'the only way to fly' is mescaline. Thomas/Neo literally does fly at the end of the film – but only as a result of walking in the truth, not hallucination or illusion. We might contrast Choi's false 'only way' statement with that of Jesus in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth…" Choi's life of seeking pleasure will not bring salvation. "I said to myself, 'Come now, I will test you with pleasure. Enjoy yourself.' And behold, it too was futility." (Ecclesiastes 2:1). Lastly, Choi's advice that Thomas needs to 'unplug' is not only foreshadowing, but also another nudge to lost Thomas. God can even use sinners to send a message…
 
M. Trinity tells Thomas to "follow the white rabbit". Spotting a white rabbit tattoo on DuJour's shoulder, Thomas chooses to go with Choi and DuJour.
S. More than just an Alice in Wonderland nod, this is another of the heavyweight moments where Thomas/Neo must make a choice that will irrevocably determine his destiny. First, Thomas had to choose to open the door for Choi (opening doors, windows, etc. is also a prominent theme). Now he must choose to accompany Choi and DuJour. (On internet discussion threads, 'tracer' observantly pointed out that 'choix' and 'duJour' are French for 'choice of the day'.) The story consistently resonates with a powerful theme of 'one way', where Thomas must often choose to either follow or abandon the one narrow Way to a singular Truth in a reality of unflinching absolutes.

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