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Hi. I’m Matt. And this is Logos Made Flesh.

This movie may not look like a sermon to the sexes. It’s an action film. One crazed carnivalesque chase scene, from beginning to end. And yet Fury Road has been widely recognized as a feminist film! It’s about powerful women, specifically the war-rig driver Furiosa and the female band she rescues from sexual enslavement. And in a land of mothers, we’re introduced to even more badass women.

The male Max, by contrast, seems a lesser figure. For the first quarter of the film, he’s an incapacitated victim. And when released, he rarely speaks, fighting alongside or at the direction of Furiosa. But this is a movie equally for men and it would be a mistake to downplay Max’s role. What he does and what’s done to him becomes the film’s symbol of redemption.


The film presents Max as a bird of prey. Though he tries to fly from captivity, he’s confined to a birdcage and made to wear a muzzle that resembles a beak. Which is in part defined in the dashes bobbling birds head. But Max isn’t just any bird, rising from the ashes of a fiery crash, he’s revealed to be the Pheonix. And it’s this resurrected bird who appears destined to confront the beast who boasts. “I am your redeemer. It is by my hand you will rise from the ashes of this world.”

But it’s a lie! Under the control of Immortan Joe (who lives by machine), People, like nature, have been reduced to fuel. His female concubines are charged to give birth to his warriors. And if they aren’t producing them, they’re being drained of their milk to fuel them. Males are likewise exploited, promised a heavenly reward if they fight and die for Joe’s rule. And if they aren’t fighting, their blood is drained like gas for those that do.

It’s because the women have been oppressed by this man that they fly to a world without men. But for obvious reasons, they find that world equally doomed. It’s Max who stops them from going further. Like them, he began the film avoiding others. But now he’s a changed man.


Subjected, like the women, to the position of a rape victim, Max is bound via a chain of blood to the war-boy Nux. and through that image symbolically impregnated with him, placed at the mercy of his unborn child in the driver seat. The film further suggests this relationship in the mirrored images of an unborn baby’s foot and umbilical chord.

At first, Max shows little concern for his newborn. It’s only after their link stops Nux from carrying out Joe’s wishes and Nux turns to use that same link to help Max, that Max comes to embrace Nux as Son. Investing him with a boot and the control of the War-Rig. Nux has become a little Max which is what his name reflects. Now a mother, Max washes in “mother’s milk” and is accepted into the “land of many mothers.”

It’s this male and female Max who turns the women towards the source of their oppression. Life, for Max, is found in redeeming this one. Which can only happen when men and women unite against the exploitation of the beast and his machine.

Fury Road isn’t just a post-apocalyptic film. It’s the apocalypse itself – a retelling of the book of Revelation. The Citadel, over which Joe rules is the city of Babylon with its legendary hanging gardens. Joe is the beast, possessing a mouth like a lion. And the dragon, seeking to devour the woman and her child.

Like Revelation, Fury Road is epic vision of humanities restoration from the fall. According to Genesis, Revelation’s source, it was in following a serpent, that the sexes were cursed to an endless cycle of subjugation. The serpent was cursed to eat the dust and war with woman. The woman to war with man. And man to war with the ground until he returns to the dust in death, to be eaten by the serpent.

But both the book and film pick up on Genesis’ promise that one day the woman’s child will crush the serpents head. Max is said to eat shlanger. Joe is called a shalnger. And because the word is undefined in the film it evokes the imagine of the one thing Max does eat. Instead of being eaten in the dust. Fury Road opens with Max eating the serpent’s head.

Son of Man

In Revelation, it’s Jesus, the Son of Man, the ideal man and representative of all men, who brings this war to an end. The Pheonix is a traditional symbol of him. Max, like Jesus, is “lifted up” on a cross so that his universal blood can give life to the dying. Nux’s hoped for resurrection becomes a reality not in Joe’s exploitation but in the passion and resurrection of Max who pulls Nux from a symbolic tomb and womb.

In the end, it’s Max’s born again son who gives his life for others, in witness, the meaning of martyr, overturning the oppression of jihad to halt the long train of war. The woman also brings about an end to the war, slaying the beast by stripping his mouth and her hand of the machine. But in the midst of the fight, Furiousa receives a mortal wound. A symbolic inversion of woman’s creation from a bone in man’s side. And yet its this creation account which explains why man sacrifices to restore the unity between the sexes.

It’s though a picture of marriage that Max becomes one with Furiosa. He reopens her side, drains his blood to fill her and ultimately gives her his name. This is life. Man lays down his life for his wife as the Woman gives life to their child. And through mutual self-giving renews the world. Fury Road ends like Revelation with a marriage between Christ and his bride, a transformed people and city where the water’s of life flow without ceasing. By the sacrifice of the ideal redeemer, woman and the world are lifted up.

All that from one hell of an action film.

I had the idea for this video in 2006. I was driving home from teaching on the gospels when Delirious’ “Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble” shuffled onto my I-Pod.

Did you feel the mountains tremble?
Did you hear the oceans roar?
When the people rose to sing of
Jesus Christ the risen one

Did you feel the people tremble?
Did you hear the singers roar?
When the lost began to sing of
Jesus Christ the risen one

And we can see that God you’re moving
A mighty river through the nations
And young and old will turn to Jesus
Fling wide your heavenly gates
Prepare the way of the risen Lord

Open up the doors and let the music play
Let the streets resound with singing
Songs that bring your hope
Songs that bring your joy
Dancers who dance upon injustice

This song, and particularly this performance, had always reminded me of Christ’s resurrection; the moment at which He triumphantly leads the captives out of Hades to stand before the gates of Heaven (Psalms 24). Years before, I attempted to write a screenplay with that image and this song as it finale. I shelved the idea, however, in frustration that such a movie would ever be made.

But as it so happened, that day, I had just finished exploring with my Canby Bible College students the way in which the Shawshank Redemption hinges on an allusion to Christ’s death and resurrection. As I listened to the song, images from a half dozen movies began to flicker in my mind.

I realized that while I may never make a movie about the glories of Christ’s resurrection, that movie has already been made. The wonders of our Lord are proclaimed in films time and time again. Surprisingly, though, for most Christians, it’s often in rated R films or movies that never explicitly speak His name.

Our Lord has triumphed not just over the grave, nor simply over those who have chosen to accept him. He has captured the hearts of all mankind. They simply fail to recognize it. He is the Longing of Man.

This Jesus in disguise – this Christ figured, who makes his appearance in so many movies – reminds me of how those two disciples in Luke 24 who didn’t recognize Jesus on the road to Emmaus. While they are walking, the resurrected Jesus approaches them and asks them why they are downcast. They explain how he (Jesus) was crucified in Jerusalem and they were sad because they thought he might have been the messiah. But then Jesus explains to them the story of scripture and how the crucified messiah actually makes sense of the story. When at last their eyes are opened and Jesus disappears from their sight, they ask “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

I have the burning feeling often in watching great films. And I’m been surprised again and again by the presence of Jesus in these places I least suspect. When you watch a movie and feel that burning, perhaps it’s Jesus and his story that’s calling to you.

This is part three in the series “When Jesus Gave Birth.”  You can find the introduction to the series here and the second part here.

How can we deterimne with relative certainity that John wanted us to see in the piercing of Christ side and the flow of blood and water (John 19:34) as an allusion to the creation of Eve (Genesis 2:21-22)?

Richard Hays book Scriptural Echoes in the Letters of Paul offers what has become the standard for evaluating the likelihood of a biblical allusion.  These seven criteria cause us to look outside our own biases to meet a level of objectivity that others can appreciate.

Here the seven criteria applied to our proposed allusion.

    1. Availability: was Genesis and specifically the creation account available to the author of John
    2. Volume: to what degree do “words, syntactical patterns, structure, and number of elements” correspond between Genesis 2:21-22 and John 19:34?
    3. Recurrence:  To what extent is Genesis and more specifically the creation account used elsewhere in John?
    4. Thematic Coherence: Does the proposed reference to Genesis 2:21-22 enhance the themes developed in John?
    5. Historical Plausibility: Is it likely that John intended the reference and that his audience would have recognized it.
    6. History of Interpretation: Have other readers, both critical and pre-critical, recognized it?
    7. Satisfaction: does it make sense?

For this series I’m going to limit our discussion to two: Volume and Thematic Coherence.  The fact that Genesis was available to John is beyond question and will be well established before this series is concluded.

As to why I’m not going to focus on the other criteria, seven may make Hay’s list feel complete but his inventory really boils down to Availability, Volume and Thematic Coherence.  All the rest are really just degrees of these.  For instance, examining recurrence (3), to what extent the creation account is used elsewhere in John, is just another way of demonstrating that Genesis was in the mind of John (1) and  it was essential to his books thematic coherence (4).  Exploring the allusion in the history interpretation (6) is just another way of showing how others saw the same verbal parallels (3) and matching of themes (4).

But John’s generic difference from Paul, the later of which Hays is specifically addressing, also requires us to make a slight extension to the list.  The letters of Paul and the Gospel of John are clearly different in that Paul writes letters and John writes a story.  John, therefore, is not limited in his allusions the way that Paul is limited to precise verbal similarities.  Narrative allows the “evocation of other details – such as plot, characters and setting – by means of circumstantial correspondence.”  Due to the availability and potential use of these other elements, allusions in narrative do not simply arise from the parallel use of exact words.

For instance, Jesus’ act of breathing on the disciples to receive the holy Spirit in John 20:22 is a well attested allusion to Genesis 2:7 – the creation of Adam.  Jesus’ “breathing on” or “into” the disciples is clearly unique.  The fact that Greek word is the exact one found in the LXX translation of Genesis is suggestive.  But the allusion also coheres in that Jesus stands in place of God and the Holy Spirit the breath of life – characterization which are well established in the Gospel of John.

In my next post we’ll look at the verbal and circumstantial correspondence between John 19:34 and Genesis 2:21-22.