By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
“In the midst of our failed attempts at loving Jesus, His grace covers us.” – Francis Chan
One of the most beautiful pictures of grace outside of the Bible can be seen in the movie Les Misérables.
The story follows the story of Jean Valjean, a criminal imprisoned for stealing bread to feed his starving sister and nephew. After spending years in prison, Valjean is finally released, but he finds it difficult to find work or food because his identification papers label him a dangerous man.
This forces Valjean to live on the streets until he is finally taken in by a kind priest. The priest allows Valjean to live in his house and eat at his table. One night, however, Valjean betrays the priest by loading up a sack with all of the silver he can find around the house and escaping into the night.
The next morning Valjean once again finds himself back in the priest’s house with armed guards escorting him inside forcing him to return the silver he stole before they cart him off to jail.
“He had the nerve to tell us you gave him this,” says one of the guards motioning to the bag overflowing with silver.
The priest looks inside the bag and says, “That is right.” Then he turns to Valjean, “But my friend you left so early surely something slipped your mind. You forgot I gave these also” he says picking the silver candlesticks off the table, “Would you leave the best behind?”
He turns to the guard, “Monsieur release him. This man has spoken true.”
With those words, the priest gave Valjean a second chance. Rather than returning to jail, Valjean has a new opportunity at life.
And he takes it. With his newly acquired silver, he is able to make a new identity. Fast forward a few years later and Valjean is the successful and beloved mayor of the town. His messy past is placed squarely behind him. All thanks to the grace shown by the priest so many nights ago.
However, Valjean’s success doesn’t last long. An old prison guard, now the captain of the police, Javier, recognizes the mayor as the criminal who had broken his parole so many years ago. He vows to recapture Valjean.
The story culminates when Javier refuses to allow Valjean to protect his adopted daughter and set things right before Javier takes him back to prison. Finally, towards the end of the story, Valjean has the opportunity to kill Javier and be a free man once more, free from the cat and dog chase that he and Javier had found themselves in.
But rather than shoot Javier, Valjean lets him go, extending the same grace to this captain as a priest had shown him many years before. But this grace has no effect on Javier. Valjean hoped that by sparing Javier’s life, the chase would be over. But Javier will not give up and pursues him all the more.
Just like Valjean, we are called to extend the same grace that was extended to us. No matter how others react to that grace, we must offer it all the same.
But too often, we are like Javier. We have no reaction to the grace extended to us and power on in our own way.
How will you react to this grace?