Summary: Sermon related to Les Miserables. Originally written to relate to musical being presented at our high school, it uses clips from the 1998 movie. Content would be applicable to the 2012 movie
GRACE for LES MISERABLES—selected
Les Miz is remarkable story of people living in misery of sin: personal, social, government
Finale: “They will live again in freedom in the garden of the Lord.”
How will that happen? Revolution? Love? Grace and redemption
This is what Jesus said he was about:
Luke 4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,
Prisoner’s name is Jean Valjean: stealing loaf of bread, but hardened by prison
Finally released—but still imprisoned by his sinful human nature and evil in society
Desperate, he comes to door of church—kind bishop treats him as Jesus would
Valjean resists and betrays kind man’s grace—
until priest does something unthinkable (remind you of Jesus?)
Revelation 5:9-10 You (the Lamb) are worthy…because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
Valjean understands that he has received more than “Get out of jail free card”
So many people want God’s grace to stop at forgiveness, easing guilt, avoiding punishment
They want free pass…to keep on living like they did before
But what kind of grace would that be? Don’t we want grace that makes us truly good?
1 Corinthians 15:10 by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.
Valjean has tasted goodness of God’s grace…penetrating to depths of his being…
He’s not sure about it—but he can’t let it go: What does it mean to belong to God?
Romans 6:11 count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Valjean’s life is transformed—transformed by Jesus
Honestly, it’s not spelled out how it happens—yet as story unfolds, it’s like this:
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Christ takes over and lives in Valjean
Valjean changes his name…takes over factory near bankruptcy and changes culture…
becomes mayor of town…provides for man disabled by accident…
rescues woman on edge of prostitution, brings her to hospital, adopts her orphan daughter
Lives life full of grace…so much so, that as I watched movie…
“That’s what Jesus would do!...if factory owner, mayor, lover of betrayed and dying woman”
(Steve said t-shirt, [WWJD?] “What would Valjean do?”)
Are we so like Jesus that people say, “What would _______________ do?”
I no longer live, but Christ lives in me
As we reflect on story, we can’t help but ask: Could that really happen?
Can people really change that much? Let’s admit it: We are skeptical!
Skeptic in Les Miz is Javert—and way he thinks is like most people in world
Javert thinks that way to become righteous is by rigidly obeying law
His father was convict and his mother slave…
Javert believes law is way of freedom…yet he is imprisoned by his rigid “justice”
Guard in prison of Valjean…policeman in village (full of injustice for poor and powerless)…
obsessed with exposing Valjean and bringing him to justice…
Yet wherever he goes, no justice…no redemption…no true righteousness
Finally, they all end up in Paris (even Nick!)…student revolution
Through series of circumstances, Valjean is given task of killing Javert
Grace triumphs, and Valjean lets Javert go free, despite Javert’s promise to turn tables!
And soon, tables are turned: Javert has power to kill Valjean—but crack appears in his rigid armor
He gives Valjean a temporary reprieve for one last act of love and grace—
and true to his word, Valjean returns to face his just death
Meanwhile, Javert has had time to think: He can’t kill righteous man—and he can’t let him go
so he kills himself by tying his hands and falling backward into Seine River
“I have always tried to live according to the law and keep every one of them.”
Javert is prisoner of his own “justice”—and it destroys him
Galatians 3:21-22 if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
Meanwhile, Valjean is living by faith in grace of God:
Galatians 2:19-21 I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"