The other day I was scanning movie quotes from the first Matrix and realized yet again what a phenomenal movie it was. More memorable quotes than one movie should hold, groundbreaking visual effects, mind-bending plot lines, heart-pounding romance, a relentless soundtrack, a heroes’ journey rife with spiritual parallels, scathing social commentary—it’s all there.
I could talk about splinters in your mind, rabbit holes, blue pills, deja vu, the Question, fate, or serve a dozen other juicy steaks—real or otherwise. But the most powerful moment in that entire movie (to me, at least) punches holes in my reality and gives me a new theme song with a mere two letters:
Just a few minutes earlier, Neo has done the unthinkable, the impossible. He’s stood toe to toe with a killer agent, Agent Smith no less. Not only has he survived, but he persevered and won the fight. Not wanting to press his luck, knowing Smith will re-spawn a thousand times if necessary, Neo runs.
Smith and the agents give chase. Pavement pounds, fire escapes rattle, bullets sing, doors slam, and the agents close in, relentless.
Finally, a door flings open in front of Neo and there he is—Agent Smith, gun drawn. The smirking demon unloads an entire clip into Neo’s chest and decorates the wall behind him with a kaleidoscope of fresh blood. Neo sinks to the ground and flatlines.
Neo is dead.
And then, in one of the great romantic moments in movie history, Trinity leans in close, faith swelling in her ragged soul. With her love, with her kiss, at her command, Neo comes back alive. He stands up in the hallway to face the unholy trinity of agents one last time.
Not a re-spawn. A resurrection.
They draw their guns as one and unleash all hell, a hailstorm of bullets screaming down the hallway at their target.
Neo simply raises his hand, blinking slowly, and rejects the assault.
The bullets freeze midair like time itself is broken. In fact, it is—but not really. What’s actually happened is that Neo finally sees the Matrix for what it is. Finally sees the agents for who they are. Sees their bullets for what they are.
Lies. Unreality. Click. He’s hacked the matrix.
He doesn’t have to dodge a bullet that only exists in his mind. At this realization, the entire arsenal of his formidable enemy clatters to the ground like children’s toys.
Just say no?
In Ephesians 6:16 Paul says, “Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Satan is the father of lies, the architect of a deceptive matrix keeping humanity in bondage. Much of his power is simply the power of “mysbelief.” Among other things, faith means seeing the world the way it really is, seeing satan for who he is, seeing the cross and victory of Christ for what it really is. This is why Jesus declares, “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
Faith extinguishes Satan’s flaming arrows. It’s how we say “Yes” to Jesus and “No” to the devil.
Probably the best part after Neo says no is the contorted horror peeling Smith’s plastic face when he realizes his gig is up. I would love to see the look on the devil’s face each time the same thing happens to him.
When I see him for who he is… and say…