Les Misèrables vs Le Bèni

Last night my husband and I went to see Les Misèrables in the theater with our church home group.  I have read the book twice, and when I saw the preview for the movie a few months ago I eagerly anticipated its arrival in theaters.

In French, “les misèrables” can be translated as “the miserable ones.”  What a fitting title for the plot of Les Mis, indeed.  The story follows a man named Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who was imprisoned for 19 years because he stole a loaf of bread for his sister’s starving son.  Upon his release, he is still bound by shame because of a yellow piece of paper that he is required to carry around which basically labels him as “dangerous” and “a criminal.”  Also, in the story is a prostitute named Fantine who is selling herself to support her daughter, Cosette, who is staying with a couple who own an inn.

In the midst of all of this, Valjean receives mercy from a kind bishop.  This glimpse of forgiveness and love causes Valjean to decide to change his identity and live a life of freedom, a life without the mark of being an ex-convict.  To throw a wrench into all of this, throughout the story, Valjean continues to cross paths with Javert who was his police chief while in prison.

It’s really a fantastic movie and story, but it is also very heavy.  As I was watching it last night, I couldn’t help but relate it in a spiritual sense.  Here are a few things that I came up with while I was watching the movie:

  • The bishop was a true reflection of God.  He showed Valjean mercy and forgiveness.  He loved him, without preconditions.  He offered him food to eat, and a place to lay his head.  It was there that Valjean realized that his soul was worth something, his life was worth something.
  • The love that God gives to us is a love that we don’t deserve.  Yet he loves us unconditionally and he forgives us over and over and over again.  To God, our lives are worth everything.  He sacrificed his one and only Son for our lives.  That’s a pretty good indication of how important we are to Him, if you ask me! 
  • Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  and John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
  • In a way, I kept associating Javert with Satan, and this is why:  every. single. time. that he came into contact with Valjean, he would remind him of his crime.  He would remind him that he was a convict.  Never mind the fact that Valjean had turned his life around and was now a very well-respected, honorable man.  Javert did everything in his power to try to keep Valjean down.
  • In my mind, I compare that with Satan because I think that the devil is very good at reminding us of our past sin.  It is one of the weapons that he tries to use against us.  Even though we have been forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ, and even though God tells us in his Word that we’ve been forgiven, the devil will sneak into our heads if we allow him to, and plant seeds of falsities.  He will try to plant lies about not being good enough, or being undeserving of God’s grace.  It’s not true though.  Don’t listen to him, don’t give him a foothold on your life.  
  • Romans 8:1 says, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”  and 1 Corinthians 15:57 says, “But thank God!  He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
  • Because of the mercy that had been given to Jean Valjean, he too showed mercy to others.  He saved Fantine, he and adopted her daughter, Cosette.  Valjean even had an opportunity to kill Javert, the man who had been in search of him since he was released from prison, but Valjean let him go.  He showed mercy.
  • God shows us all mercy.  He didn’t have to save us from a life in hell, a life without Him.  But instead he did, and he adopted us into his family so that those of us who believe in His name can call him “Dad.”  We can look forward to the day when we will spend eternity as the family of God. 
  • Titus 3:4-7 says, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

I’m praising Jesus that we do not have to be “les misèrables,” “the miserable ones.”  How great is it that we are saved?!  We have freedom in Christ and we are not bound by the crimes that we have committed in the past!  Instead, we can call ourselves “le bèni,” “the blessed.”    Hallelujah!


2 thoughts on “Les Misèrables vs Le Bèni

  1. Anonymous

    Very well said. and so thought out. I love your heart for Christ and so glad you are now part of our family..
    ..I haven’t seen the movie nor read the book…now I want to make sure my daughter and I do see this.

  2. Elvira

    How funny that you post this now! I saw it with my girls yesterday too the first ferutae movie I’ve been to in at least eight years! I have always been deeply moved by the story and have discussed it frequently with my kids as we listened to the music, so we were all familiar with the story and its meaning. I was disappointed in the movie itself; to me, it merely filmed a play (mostly beautifully), but missed an opportunity to capitalize on some of the unique storytelling possibilities available in this different modality. I especially disliked the make up of the poor, which seemed ghoulish and dehumanizing rather than dismal and realistic. And much of the singing made me cringe. But I love the book and the production and feel great loyalty to it and so am glad others had more positive reactions. And I did love many of the voices and thought that the acting was superb.I have always been most drawn to the Javert/Jean Valjean tension, perhaps I relate to both of them, have sympathy for both of them, for they are both doing their best in their terribly flawed ways (one more successfully than the other) to seek justice and God. I’ve discussed this tension to my girls from the perspective that it is a reminder to continuously seek God, to understand that at our best we have to approach the knowledge that we do have with humility. I think that this is what I do love most about the story not black and white/ good and bad, but understanding that villains are also victims, that heroes are also flawed. There is something beautiful about that messy reality, that within in people are seeking something better and are doing so with God.Sorry to go on so long, but this is a favorite story! :-}


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