Last Friday I had the great pleasure of seeing the motion picture Les Miserables.
I had no idea what to expect from it. I knew it was a musical and I knew it was long. However, I read the book in high school nearly ten years ago and my familiarity with the themes and symbolism were pretty much gone. Ultimately, though, I do remember loving the book and feeling like I could relate to some of the characters in one way or another, flaws and fortunes alike. After seeing the movie, it all came rushing back to me. Les Miserables is a literary masterpiece and, whether Victor Hugo meant to or not, a wonderful representation of Gospel themes.
Les Miserables is French for “the miserable ones” or “the poor ones”. How fitting.
If we can relate to the characters in this story for any reason, it is this one. We are all miserable and poor and dead in our sin apart from the forgiveness and grace of our Savior. This is something the story portrays in great detail and brilliance.
The characters are real, vulnerable, and majorly flawed. The main character Jean Valjean sees this in himself. He sees his proclivity to sin and then run and hide in dark places, away from the God who loves him. The character Javert is so obsessed with the law and keeping moral order that he misses the point of compassion, grace, and second chances all together. The character Fantine sees this in herself as well. She tries to find her identity in a man and, when that falls apart, she has no where to turn but to her own sin. Not until her last breath does she recognize her deep need for God to show grace to her and save her.
Ultimately, these characters are fictional and while their stories can encourage us and bring out some of our deepest emotions, they can only go so far. The world that we live in today is not fictional and nor is the God who created it. He is eternal. Jesus loves His children and does not desire that any one should perish or continue in a life of miserable sin.
Exodus 34: 6-7 tells us about God’s never changing character and love: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…”
Romans 1:21 tells us about our natural state: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Romans 5: 8-9 provides us the clear direction of our faith and salvation: “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”
Isn’t Jesus amazing!? While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Even as I have sinned today, Christ has forgiven me and speaks His righteousness over me. Jesus, You are beyond words and I am in awe.
Ultimately, Les Miserables is a movie and it majorly falls short in comparison to the Gospel and Glory of God. But, it was pretty exciting to see such magnificent themes of grace and that God was being glorified in Hollywood. I was blown away and truly brought to tears in remembering the Gospel during this movie.