If you haven’t seen the newly released movie “I am Legend”, stop reading now, grab a friend, and go see it.
But if you have seen it, please feel free to continue reading.
I’ve found that no matter how many times I watch a movie, there is always something new that I’ll catch while watching it again. This was again true for me last week in my second viewing of the aforementioned movie.
Rather than rehashing the plot (which you should already know if you followed my instructions above…), I will get right to the point:
Whether it was intentional by the film makers or not, one can see profound Christian symbolism in the climax of this movie.
Near the end of the movie we find Will Smith’s character (Robert Neville) and two other uninfected survivors (Anna and Ethan) locked behind the glass doors of his laboratory during the “Night Seekers” final attack. As the mutated humans tried to break down the glass with the goal of devouring the three people, Neville attempted to explain to them (the attacking mutants) that he had found a cure for their virus that would return them to full health.
In this sense, Neville–who really did have in his possession a cure for the infected people–is the Christ figure. He seeks to save the lost (those infected with the KV virus), but rather than accept him for the “savior” that he was, the mutated humans still sought to destroy him. Jesus came with the cure for all of mankind’s sin and the desire that no one be lost, but He was rejected and crucified by the very ones He came to save. Just as the virally infected mutants in the movie could not comprehend the life-giving cure that was right in front of them, neither could the Jewish priests or Roman authorities in 1st Century Palestine comprehend the life-giving cure that was Christ. Neville’s realization that the mutants did not understand their irrational actions is reminiscent of Christ’s prayer for the people crucifying Him in Luke 23: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Both the mutants and the 1st Century Romans and Jews sought to destroy the very one who could save them.
As the movie ends without knowing how the cure is given to the infected people, one may assume that, given the mutants irrational and self-destructive behavior, the vaccine would not have been distributed on a “voluntary basis”. This is a reflection of how, left to our own reasoning and choice, we as sinful humans could not and would not “choose Christ”. It is Christ who instead chooses us; Christ who sanctifies us; Christ who makes us His own. The mutants couldn’t choose to be healed and neither can we.
It was evident to the three uninfected survivors, that the glass protecting them was about to break due to the mutants forceful blows. After he realized that one of his vaccinations was effective on the “test patient”, Neville filled a test tube with her blood and gave it to Anna and Ethan to pass on to other survivors. But in order for them to survive and escape with the vaccine, it was necessary to kill the attacking mutants who would stop at nothing to get to them. So after hiding Anna and Ethan, Neville took a grenade and blew it up when the mutants broke through.
In order to save Anna, Ethan, and the virus’ cure, Neville gave up his own life. If he had not done so, the mutants surely would have killed all three of them, and the cure would have been lost. Without Neville’s vaccine there was no hope for curing the rest of those who had been infected by the virus.
Scripture says that all of mankind is dead in sin. In Romans, St. Paul wrote that the wages of sin is death. If the punishment for our sins is death and eternal separation from God, what hope do we have?
We have the hope that is God’s own Son, Jesus Christ.
All of humanity is lost and condemned in its sins, but Christ came and lived the perfect life we could not live and suffered the punishment of death that we deserved so that we may be saved. As Neville died to defend the cure for all the sick mutants, Jesus died to give the cure to all humans sick with sin: “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
The cure for the mutants’ sickness—the KV virus—was in the blood of Robert Neville’s test patient.
The cure for mankind’s sickness—sin—is in the blood of God’s crucified and risen Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
What a wonderful parallel! In both instances the saving power for those who are “lost” is found in blood. The blood of the test patient had the power to restore all the mutants to their full human form. The blood of Christ has the power to redeem us from sin, death, and the devil—and it does!
As I noted earlier, it isn’t disclosed how the vaccine contained in the test patient’s blood would be distributed to the infected mutants. However, we do know how the cure found in the life-giving blood of Christ is distributed: the Sacraments of the Church.
We put on Christ and are washed by His blood in the water and Word of Holy Baptism.
We receive forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation when we eat and drink the body and blood of Christ in, with, and under the bread and wine of Holy Communion.
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“I am Legend” is a good movie to watch. The plot is unique, the storyline is exciting, and there is a happy ending. But in the end, “Legend”, is just another movie that was made to entertain us. In the big picture, it has no redeeming value; it will not provide comfort nor assurance in anything—it is just a movie.
But the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so much more than a movie. In His Gospel we have the comfort of God’s grace and the assurance of His mercy. All of our sins ever committed—past, present, and future—have been forgiven and forgotten. The blood of Christ has paid for our sins in full and we have no punishment to fear. Through Christ’s death and resurrection there is no barrier between us and the God who made us.
If you have seen or will see the movie “I am Legend”, think about the Christian symbolism that is in it. And during this Christmas season, think about the reason why Jesus came to be born into this world:
“an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.’” Matthew 1:21-22