Ridley Scott’s The Martian stands as a reason why movie lovers love movies. Visually appealing, consistently funny, impeccably-acted, and paced very well, it’s very hard for me to find anything at fault with the film led by Matt Damon. Personally, it visually translated almost every brainstorming session or daydream thought I had as a space exploration-obsessed child. To say I enjoyed the film, it would be an understatement.
In a nutshell, Mark Watney (played by Damon) is thought dead and reluctantly left on Mars by his fellow crew members as they escape a powerful storm that abruptly appeared mid-mission. Following NASA believing him dead and providing a high-profile funeral, Watney shows himself to be alive, as observed by satellite images of the surface.
From his perspective, we see him face the harshest of odds, on a planet that is not conducive to his existence in any way. Whether it’s the pursuit of growing food on a planet without water, making feasible transportation over long distances, or finding ways to re-engineer technology to better communicate with Mission Control on Earth, Watney continues to find ways to survive until help can come to him.
Having not read the Andy Weir novel on which it is based and knowing that the director is a professed atheist, I was ready to be disappointed in regard to its position on the Christian faith. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this “testament to science”, as I’ve heard the film described, wasn’t actually critical of Christianity or faith in general. In fact, the Cross stood out as the crux of one of my favorite moments in the film. One could say that faith and hope are the center of the film, as the thought of bringing Mark home are all that keeps the crew moving forward and all that fuels his pursuit to not give up. The themes of resilience amidst overwhelming adversity were so well illustrated that I left actually refreshed spiritually in my faith, which was a great feeling from a Hollywood science-fiction film.
In reflection of the film, I immediately thought of the Scriptural principle of Christ’s pursuit of the lost.
Luke 15:1-7 (NKJV): Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
Mark Watney is one man: a botanist on Mars, but still, one man alone on a planet to himself. His perilous situation has no practical bearing on the billions of people on Earth, and even if his fellow crew never knew they’d return safely to their own families. If Watney died, it would in no way impact another human being’s life on Earth. Still, upon knowing of his situation, the world unites with great money and resources to ensure his return. Even after problematic situations on both Earth and Mars test their resolve, they soldier on in bringing him back.
That level of focus and reach and mutual cooperation of mankind to save one other member of our race seems an amazing feat from human beings, and if true, it would be a testament to mankind in putting aside so much for a common cause. Still, Scripture shows us that Jesus Christ showed beyond even that great level of love for us on the Cross. He poured Himself out for all of mankind, regardless of the sins they’ve committed or are committing. He who knew no sin became sin for us.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV):For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The importance of saving Mark’s life in the film as it’s coupled with the necessity of him not losing hope in his situation and seeking progress against all the adversity coming at him on every front in the film act as symbols to us that no one is truly without hope. No matter our struggle, be it a sin known to all around us in our lives or a personal struggle known only within our internal thoughts, we can overcome it in Christ.
He seeks us to the uttermost and will receive all if we will come to the point of meeting him. He would have died on the Cross for just the salvation of one human being, yet His sacrifice is powerful enough to save all who will belong to Him. Watney’s journey to survival and returning to Earth took great struggle on his part, and for any that Christ receives, they must make great sacrifices as well. The journey with Christ was never promised to be easy, but salvation is only possible through Him:
John 14:6 (NKJV)Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Should you see ‘The Martian’? I would say absolutely, but as you see it, just know that just as the planet was intent on bringing Watney home, Christ is much more intent on you knowing Him and being at one with Him in this life and in Eternity. Your rescue mission from sin and despair already took place on a Cross centuries ago, and the power of that act is enough to secure eternal life for you and all who will receive Christ today. Have you?
Have you seen the Martian? What Christian themes did you notice in it? How can you apply this message in your life?
Colby Bryant currently serves as the Music/Youth Minister of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Hugo, Oklahoma, and he served as Pastor of Archey Baptist Church in Soper, Oklahoma for several years prior. He and his wife, Stephanie, have three children. He enjoys adding to his extensive knowledge and collection of movies and TV by watching and collecting as many as he can, and he gets in as much video game and tabletop playtime as his schedule will allow.
*** John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, "I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life. NO ONE comes to the Father except through me." ***
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