Matrix - A Cyberpunk Parable?
B. THE PARABLE
TRAINING: Conscription, Concepts, and Conditioning
3g. New Identity
|M = The Matrix Story
|S = Spiritual Parallels
|M. For the first time as a free man, Neo enters the
Matrix simulation. But now Neo sees himself as separate from the Matrix world. "I
used to eat there! [That place had] good noodles," he says. Neo is in the
Matrix, but not of it. Though a simulation of himself walks the Matrix, in reality
Neo's true body and self is 'seated above' in the hovercraft.
|S. Christians must see themselves as still working
within the world, but not of the world. "They are from the world
We are from
" (1 John 4:5,6). Jesus said that is followers "are not of the world,
even as I am not of the world" (John 17:14). Though a Christian still has his
temporary physical body in the world that he uses to work in, he is positionally
"seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6).
|M. Neo says, "I have these memories from my [old
life in the Matrix]. What does that mean?" "That the Matrix cannot tell you who
you are," answers Trinity firmly.
|S. A person can only find his true identity in Christ.
Life before trusting Christ is a tainted act, a self-generated personality hoping to cope
with life in a fallen world. Christ sets a person free to be who he or she was truly meant
to be. But, the Christian's mind is still stained with old habits and memories from the
past. A Christian must learn that those former times do not determine his identity, that
those times were overcome and put behind him through Christ making him a new creation. In
Christ's blood, the chains of the fallen world have been burned away, although a Christian
ponders the ashes now and then.
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3h. The Oracle (The
Word of God)
A necessary caveat
about the Oracle character:
The writers of the
film used many religious influences. The Oracle is obviously a pagan, non-Christian
figure. Some factors: 1) She has the title of 'Oracle'. Although this term is used in the
Bible as well, the far more abundant scriptural term is 'prophet', whereas 'oracle'
reminds us of the pagan Oracle of Delphi and the oracles of mythology. 2) She is female,
as were the Delphic and mythological oracles, 3) She has attendant 'priestesses' 4) The
clothing of the priestesses 5) The gathering of 'potentials', with many strong allusions
to eastern religions 6) The Oracle studies the body and reads palms - note that the
penalty for pagan fortune-telling and witchcraft was death in the old testament of the
Bible. 7) She smokes - possibly an allusion to the intoxicating fumes used by the Delphic
oracle 8) A purported 1996 script of The Matrix widely available on the internet
even contained a temple scene, complete with a zodiac staircase.
Despite the Oracle
character definitely not being based on Christianity but on the pagan oracles of
history and myth, some of the aspects of the scenes with the Oracle can still be adapted
to fit a Christian allegory.
Thus ignoring the
pagan trappings, we will let the Oracle symbolize the "Word of God" - the
scriptures. In the Bible, the term 'oracle' is used to mean a speaker from God, a prophet,
a prophecy, or a truth from God.
"spoon boy": The idea of "there is no spoon" is not valid for the
Christian. Instead, the Christian principle might be, "There is a spoon, for
now...but God can do as He wishes with it". God does not teach a Christian to ignore
a present reality - but to realize that God as Creator holds reality in His hand and can
effortlessly control it any way He pleases! Thus, faith in God's infinite power and love
is the key for the Christian as he faces any perceived obstacle.
|M. "The Matrix cannot tell you who you are,"
says Trinity. "And the Oracle can?" questions Neo. "That's different,"
|S. For the Christian, the scriptures contain vital
truths about the new creation he is in Christ.
|M. Morpheus brings Neo to see the Oracle.
|S. God's Spirit will direct the Christian to the truth
of the scriptures. "The Spirit...will guide you into all the truth...the Word of God
is truth..." (John 16:13, 17:17).
|M. Morpheus tells Neo that the Oracle is a "guide"
that "can help you to find the path".
|S. "The Spirit...will guide you into all
the truth..." (John 16:13). "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto
my path." (Psalm 119:105).
|(Important note: Morpheus' comment about
"Don't think of it in terms of right and wrong" does not apply to the
scriptures! A central purpose of the scriptures is to clearly communicate God's standards
of right and wrong to mankind.)
|M. Later after the helicopter escape, Morpheus will
tell Neo, "There's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path."
|S. This is an ambiguous quote that can be adapted to
several different meanings. For this allegory, we can adapt it to say that there is a
difference between just knowing the path (academic knowledge of the Word of God) and
walking the path (obeying it). "For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a
doer...he has forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks...and abides by
it...shall be blessed in what he does." (James 1:23-25).
|M. Morpheus says that the Oracle "has been with us
from the beginning".
|S. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word
was with God..." (John 1:1). Note that Jesus is the Word personified (John 1:14) in
contrast to the written Word of the scriptures. Through His Spirit, His written word, and
His prophets, God has always maintained communication with mankind.
|M. Speaking at the Oracle's door, Morpheus tells Neo,
"I can only show you the door. You have to walk through it."
|S. When a person is shown the Word of God, he must
choose to either walk away and forget it, or listen and obey. Just to listen
["I can show you the door"] is of no benefit unless the hearer also acts
["you have to walk through it"]. To paraphrase Christ's parable: Whoever
hears God's words and does them is like a wise man who builds his house on the
rock; the storms will not move it. Whoever hears the word of God and does not put it
into practice is like a foolish man who builds his house on sand, and the floods
destroy that house (see Matthew 7:24-27).
|M. Morpheus describes the Oracle: "She would say
she knows enough."
|S. Just because a newspaper does not describe every
single event that happened around the world does not mean that the information in the
newspaper is not true. In the same way, God's Word is true. But it does not describe
everything that ever was or will be. Even the gospel of John ends with this verse:
"And there are many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in
detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were
written." (John 21:25).
|The truth that God gives in His Word is enough for
humanity. It tells us exactly how to have eternal life - trusting only in Jesus Christ to
save us from our sin. The antidote for poison only needs to describe the antidote - it
does not need to tell you how to bake a cake as well! The Oracle will tell Neo just what
he needs to know. In the same way God's word is designed to tell humanity all we need for
this life. A Christian will have an eternity to know the rest.
|M. The oracle does not look fancy; she looks simple and
|S. Truth does not need to parade itself. The content is
important, not the fanciness of the package. Even Jesus Himself did not come to earth as a
handsome man. Isaiah 53:2 prophesied that Jesus would have no "beauty or majesty to
attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him." God did not
want people attracted to image and charisma, but to substance and truth. God's Word is
perfect Truth, packaged simply.
|M. The Oracle prophesies to Neo, "Don't worry
about the vase." Neo asks, "What vase?" just before breaking the vase next
to him. The Oracle's ability to predict the future is supernatural - something the
machines will not be able to do through their natural means!
|S. Two things are paralleled here: 1) The supernatural
power of God and 2) the grace and mercy of God.
1) God's Word contains
many prophecies, many of which have already come to pass, and others that are for the end
of the ages. Verifiable prophecy indicates supernatural power and gives great credibility
to the other statements in the Word of God. As an example of fulfilled prophecy from
scripture, Daniel chapters 2 and 8 correctly prophesied the sequence of 4 world empires:
Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. There are also many fulfilled old testament
prophecies about Christ - that he was to be born in Bethlehem, be called out of Egypt
(after his family fled from Herod's butchery), come from Nazareth (as Jesus grew up there
after returning to Israel), etc. God obviously has the ability to control the future,
which comforts the believer and builds faith in the instructions he receives from God's
2) As to grace and mercy,
the Oracle said, "Don't worry about the [broken] vase." God paid for all
of a Christian's sins at the cross. A Christian thus receives infinite mercy for his
mistakes as he grows in the Lord. This is not to be taken as a license to sin, but to
serve. God disciplines a rebellious child to correct his path, and He gives grace to
mistakes of the child already trying to do right.
|M. The Oracle says, "I'm going to let you in on a
|S. The Word of God reveals the mysteries (secrets) of
God to the Christian, as God enables the Christian to spiritually comprehend what is
written. "Behold, I show you a mystery...." (I Corinthians 15:10 and many other
references.) Sensitivity to the Spirit of God is crucial to the Christian as He reads the
scriptures. "For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches
all things, even the depths of God." (1 Corinthians 2:10).
|M. The Oracle shows Neo the Latin phrase "Temet
Nosce", which means "know thyself". The Oracle says that when you know
yourself, "you just know it, through and through."
|S. The scriptures tell a Christian many things about
who he truly is in Christ. By having faith in God's word, a Christian learns that he is
not to pretend he is new in Christ, but to know it as a fact. Over time and
through much faith, this "knowing" becomes automatic for the maturing Christian
and is key to his strength in God, just as Neo's relaxed "knowing" resulted in
total, calm power at the end of the film.
|M. The Oracle examines Neo. Specifically, she looks at
his mouth, eyes, and hands.
|S. Although the Oracle's actions reek of the pagan
practice of palm reading, we can parallel these 'examinations' to the way that God's Word
examines the Christian. "The word of God is living and active and sharper than any
two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and
marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).
As king David asked God, "Search me, O God, and know my thoughts." (Psalm
139:23). As to the body parts the Oracle searched, the book of Proverbs in the Bible
contains many convicting instructions as to the speech (mouth), what we look at and focus
on (eyes), and do with our hands (actions, labor, etc).
|M. The Oracle confirms to Neo, "You've got
|S. One of the things the Word of God does is confirm
salvation to the believer's soul. "These things I have written to you who believe in
the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal
life" (I John 5:13). "The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ
Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23b).
|M. The Oracle says that Neo "looks like [he's]
waiting on something...[his] next life, maybe."
|S. In a Messianic allegory, this can be a prediction of
the resurrection, similar to John 12:14. But in the allegory of Neo as Christian, it can
mean that Christians must die daily to selfish living (I Corinthians 15:29) and live
according to the new people they are in Christ. "Lay aside the old self...be renewed
in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been
created in righteousness and holiness of the truth" (Ephesians 4:22). "
by the Spirit you are putting to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live."
|M. The Oracle warns Neo that a difficult choice will
arise - that either he or Morpheus will die! Regarding Morpheus, the Oracle tells Neo,
"without him, we are lost." She tells Neo that he will have to choose to
"sacrifice your life for his."
|S. In this stunning revelation, the Oracle's words
parallel the two greatest commandments of all scripture! If we put Morpheus in the role of
God (which he can play at many points in the allegory), then the statement, "without
Him we are lost" gives Neo the greatest commandment of all: "Love the Lord your
God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first
and greatest commandment" (Matthew 22:37).
|When we put Morpheus in the role of a mature Christian
who helps to disciple Neo (another role Morpheus can easily fill in the allegory), then
Neo will have to choose to lay down his life for his brother, fulfilling the second
greatest commandment: "...and a second is like it: Love your neighbor as
yourself" (Matthew 22.29). This also fulfills the verse, "No greater love has
anyone than this: that one lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12).
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