Ben Reaoch | Category: The Christian Life
This is the second of three parts on "Liberty to the Captives".
There’s a powerful scene at the close of Les Misérables, the musical. If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s a story of redemption in the life of a man named Jean Valjean. He had been a prisoner for many years because he had stolen bread to give to his sister’s starving family. When he was finally released, and he was trying to make a way for himself in the world, he was taken in by a bishop who showed him kindness and trust. Valjean took advantage of that trust, and robbed the bishop, fleeing in the night. The police brought him back, and the bishop, amazingly, told the police that he had given these things to Valjean as a gift. The bishop gave Valjean the valuable candlesticks as well.
This mercy and grace changed Valjean’s life. He went out into the world this time a different man. He sought to rescue Fantine from the desperate circumstances of her life. After Fantine died, Valjean raised her daughter, Cosette. And all this while inspector Javert was pursuing him, wanting to imprison him again for his past crimes. Like Uncle Tom and Simon Legree (see earlier blog post), the contrast between Valjean and Javert highlights the difference between perceived freedom and true freedom. Like Simon Legree, Javert had the law on his side, but he was bound by chains of his own making. Valjean, on the other hand, experienced freedom through sacrifice.
At the end of the story, after many twists and turns, Valjean is on his deathbed, Cosette and her husband are with him, and he is at peace. In the final scene, Fantine (Cosette’s mother, who had passed away many years before), she appears and beckons Valjean to heaven. She sings,
“Come with me
Where chains will never bind you
All your grief
At last, at last behind you
Lord in Heaven
Look down on him in mercy.”
And Valjean responds,
“Forgive me all my trespasses
And take me to your glory.”
That’s a beautiful picture to me of the freedom we long for, which we will finally experience in all its fullness once we are with God in heaven. This fallen world is filled with chains that bind us and beckon us and pursue us. Don’t you ache to go to that place in God’s presence where chains will never bind you, where all your grief at last will be behind you? And it’s because the Lord of heaven looks down on us in mercy and forgives us all our trespasses and will one day take us to His glory.
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