I sat and watched Les Miserables on Sunday afternoon. As a 34 year old man who is into musical theatre I have to say, to my shame, that this was the first time I had seen it.
This was not the musical but the film, as shown above. Nevertheless, it was moving and gripping.
The one thing that struck me more strongly than anything else is that it is a story of forgiveness and of second chances.
Valjean, escaping parole, finds himself sleeping in the home of a priest. Rather than be grateful for this hospitality he goes to steal the silver cutlery set. Upon being discovered, he hits the priest and flees the house. He is caught by soldiers who presume him to be a thief and bring him back to the priest.
Caught red-handed he fully expects to be sent back to the cruel labour camp where he has been working. But the priest tells the soldiers that the silver was a gift and not only that, but that he had forgotten the candlesticks!
Speaking privately with Valjean, the priest tells him, “with this silver I have redeemed your soul, go and make a new start!”
Valjean goes on to become wealthy and as a kind businessman is thrust into the position of Mayor of a large town by popular demand. All runs smoothly until the new Police Prefect, Javert arrives who just happens to be one of the guards who mistreated Valjean in the labour camp for some 20 years…
Try as he might he cannot escape the past, as this vindictive man seeks to expose him. Things reach a head when he saves a young woman, Fantine from being mistreated. She is the mother of an illegitimate child and has had to resort to prostitution to earn enough money to feed her daughter who is being looked after another family. She is therefore ostracized by everyone apart from Valjean.
He nurses her as she falls sick, eventually dying, but not before she has secured Valjean’s promise of looking after her daughter, Cosette.
Valjean arrives at the house where Cosette is staying to find that her conditions are deplorable and she is being treated like a Cinderella. He pays money as he stays in the house to allow the child to play, a concept she has difficulty understanding! Finally, he liberates her from the cruel guardians with a signed letter from Fantine.
With the young girl in tow, he flees to Paris where he scales the city walls, necessary due to his lack of official papers, and leaps to safety in the convent. Here Cosette is schooled until she is 18, whereupon she decides she wants to see the world. At this point she meets Enjolras, a charming radical set on revolution to bring about change for the poorest people.
Valjean is initially averse to her love for the man but finally concedes as he realises he cannot cage her. However, her late night rendezvous have brought her and Valjean to the attention of an informant who advises Javert, now Chief Police Prefect of Paris of his whereabouts.
A man hunt ensues amid an uprising in which Enjolras takes the helm. This event, historically known as the June Rebellion causes him to suffer a musket wound.
Javert disguises himself as one of the rebels to infiltrate enemy lines and comes face-to-face with Valjean. Valjean is sent out to dispose of him, but amazingly lets him go free. Even though Javert tells him he will still pursue him if he is saved.
Knowing the area is surrounded Valjean and Enjolras flee through a sewer to the river. Javert works out where he has gone and arrives as he crawls out the other end. Immediately he does, Valjean is handcuffed whilst the younger man is taken off to be treated.
Javert then removes Valjean’s handcuffs and places them on his own wrists! He states “I cannot let you go free, so there is only one thing I can do…” With this, he jumps into the river!
Valjean was given a second chance, his life being redeemed by the silver. His past pursued him but never overcame him. Ultimately his kind attitude saved his life.
Every living person has been in the clutches of an enemy, imprisoned against our will, because of sin. Jesus bought our souls, not with silver or gold, but with blood. The most precious commodity in the world!
When he did so he gave us a new life and a new chance to live it. Satan, is a real person. He is the father of lies and what’s more he is legalist. He will stick to the letter of the law because he knows every little loophole!
He will chase you, he will try to remind you of your past and to deceive you into thinking you can never get beyond where you are right now… But he cannot move beyond the realms of the law.
Grace confounds him. When you bless someone who curses you, you take away their power to control you.
And when you are stood at the end of your life watching the rivers of time pass before your eyes Satan will have no option but to throw himself into the lake of fire knowing that your life has been paid with a price with which he cannot compete.
Grace - v - Law? Grace wins!