Since late August I have been rehearsing for a production of Les Misérables which will open in 8 days. This musical has powerfully impacted my life for a number of years. It is time to get some of those thoughts out my head and heart and onto paper.
Jean Valjean is branded #24601. A constant reminder of breaking the law. His lawlessness was not out of hatred or spite or evil intent; merely love and concern for his little starving niece. It was not premeditated, intricately planned out, or spiteful, yet he broke the law none-the-less. He bore the consequences heavily. I’m sure while in prison he wondered if his family was alive or dead. His imprisonment affected them too.
I break God’s law often. Sometimes intentionally and willfully, sometimes in a moment of passion or desperation. No matter the circumstances, I fall short of the perfection that God’s holiness requires. And my sin always affects those around me.
When the priest hears from the police that Jean Valjean has stolen silver from the monastery, he sees far beyond the crime. He sees the heart of a desperate man, a man with no life, no future, no hope. He sees through the eyes of Christ and extends His amazing grace. The priest had the power (and right) to condemn Jean Valjean back to prison but rescued him in love. The priest offers two more pieces of silver…more tangible expressions of grace and mercy toward one who did not deserve to receive it.
What magnificent grace! What love God has lavished on me, the guilty one. Though condemned, God rescued me in His great, unfathomable love.
“What wondrous love is this O my soul, O my soul? What wondrous love is this O my soul? What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss to pay the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul? To pay the dreadful curse for my soul?” (William Walker, 1835)