The Great Story in Les Misérables


After seeing Les Mis this morning (and shedding lots of tears), I got home and immediately looked for the soundtrack. What stirring music! What a compelling story! What redemption! Some features of the movie are analogous to the Great Story of redemption…

1. “Do You Hear The People Sing?” makes me cry just thinking about the passion within the lyrics. It is the core of the gospel– will we give all we can give so the banner of Jesus [“His banner over me is love” – Song of Songs 2:4] advances? Persecution is inevitable…but will we stand up and fight the good fight of the faith? 

“Will you give all you can give
So that our banner may advance
Some will fall and some will live
Will you stand up and take your chance?” 

2. Hugh Jackman’s character Jean Valjean demonstrates unselfish love. It is expressed in that he pays a price for Cosette, an old employee’s daughter; he saves Marius, a young revolutionist, so Cosette can know real love; he spares Cosette from the haunting story of his past to keep her pure; and he holds her safely with his hands wide open, knowing that she is a gift and not “his.”

“Trusting me the way you do
I’m so afraid of failing you
Just a child who cannot know
That danger follows where I go
There are shadows everywhere
And memories I cannot share
Nevermore alone
Nevermore apart
You have warmed my heart
Like the sun.
You have brought the gift of life
And love so long denied me.”

3. Valjean’s character is gracious to Fantine when she is taken captive to prostitution. He lifts her out of the mire, helps mend her and fulfills his obligation to care for Cosette. By his tangible love, Fantine is spiritually restored. It reminds me so much of Jesus. He comes to us in our shame and brings us into light [“now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ” Eph. 2:13]. He doesn’t roll around in the dirt with us but lifts us out of it. He heals, restores.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” – Romans 5:6

3. Valjean gives undue grace to his adversary and old master Javert. Javert is offered grace yet cannot accept it–maybe due to pride or shame. Javert’s fate is placed in Valjean’s hands yet he sets him free. It’s a beautiful picture of how Valjean’s heart let go of resentment from his 19 years of slave captivity. 

I think the most penetrating thing about the movie was the beautiful picture of heaven at the end, the revolutionaries waving French flags and singing this: 

“They will live again in freedom 
In the garden of the Lord. 
They will walk behind the plough-share, 
They will put away the sword. 
The chain will be broken 
And all men will have their reward.”

Jesus turns our ashes into beauty. Yes, the movie basically means “The Miserables,” but the beauty is found between the lines, between the story. The stirring scenes in Les Mis remind me that one day, yes, that beautiful and glorious day of the Lord, God will come back in vengeance for His people–He will come in His fury to do battle on our behalf, He will come to undo the age-long curse. Yet, that battle has already been won at the cross.

Here is an excerpt of a poem written by a friend: 

“but O, the light through the mist!
it erases the faces of enemies i’ve kissed.”

Light through the mist–we’re still living in a fog, and the glorious King will bring light to all things. Nothin to be miserable about!