Ahhhhh Les Miserables
I've been a fan of Victor Hugo's epic French novel since I was in college.
There was something about the drama. I love the historical setting of 19th century Paris and I'm intrigued by likely one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean. I had the opportunity to see the stage play again this past weekend with my wife and my parents at a little community theater in Ocala. They did a great job but this is not about their thespian skills.
In the above clip we see the act that leads to the redemption of a man, Jean Valjean, a peasant imprisoned and sentenced to indentured servitude for stealing a loaf of bread. His crime, while possibly minor, merited a punishment. Like most of the people of Paris in the early 19th century, Jean Valjean's life is miserable (hence...les miserables). The poor, the downcast and the needy are judged to be inferior. They are inferior to those that are judged to be superior. This includes the rule keepers, the police and the nobility.
The change in Jean Valjean came at the hands of a priest, a man of God. This priest ransoms him with silver and tells him that his life now has meaning. He must now live a changed life.
This amazing epic drama touches my heart. It reminds me of the universal human condition that we are all helpless, we are all inferior, we are all broken and in need of redemption.
The Christian overtones in the play are clear. The redemption of mankind also comes at the hand of a priest. Not an earthly priest however, our redemption was paid for by Jesus Christ on calvary. The offer of redemption is simple: accept that the price has already been paid and understand that you have been ransomed, you have been redeemed. As a result, we are to live a life that now has meaning. This is to be a life that is honoring to God.
While in the stage play, Jean Valjean does change, police inspector Javert continues his chase of the former convict 24601 and only has punishment in mind. In his way of thinking people don't change. Grace does a work in Jean Valjean's life but there is no grace in Javert. Even when his life is spared by the changed Jean Valjean, Javert cannot find it in his heart to change, to repent and to accept grace as an opportunity.
It has been said that all great literature has Biblical roots. Perhaps the reason is that the primary issues of life are addressed through Biblical characters. Redemption, grace, forgiveness and restoration are available and the primary source is the Bible.