I’ve loved the story and music from Les Miserables since seeing the play three times at the Fox in the 80’s. I read the real book a few years back and have seen the older movies. Some stories are timeless and this is one of them. This new movie version is breathtaking and moving. I seldom cry in movies, but the scenes were so real, so graphic and moving that tears were hard to hold back. I’ve been pondering some of the lyrics which, although not totally scriptural, provide us with some glimpses of truth.
First let’s look at the clear picture we get of law versus grace as we watch the interaction between Javert and Jean Valjean. The contrast is undeniable—one man who lives by the rules and laws with no room for error and another who has learned to live accepting forgiveness and trusting second chances. A sinner who could have become a bitter criminal full of hate and revenge learns to love and be loved. Although Jean Val Jean leans a little towards works as a way to redemption, we cannot deny God’s work in his life—a life filled with forgiveness, grace and love.
With these two men, we see the extremes. Javert cannot receive forgiveness and grace nor even forgive himself for his mistakes. Because of grace, Jean Valjean finds a life filled with unselfish love.
“Believe of me what you will. Men like me can never change.
There is a duty that I’m sworn. Men like you can never change.
You know nothing of my life. My duty’s to the law.
All I did was steal some bread. You have no rights.
You know nothing of the world. Come with me 2 4 6 0 1.”
As you muse on this wonderful story, ask yourself, “Is there any place where I have myself or someone else under the law with no room for error?” “Is there anyone (including myself and God) whom I need to forgive or to whom I need to extend grace?” “Is the enemy shouting my old number at me with condemnation?”
In Part 2 we will look second chances.