To understand Les Miserables:
I featured this scene in 2012 but it bears repeating because it ties into the themes of the Lord of the Rings trailer so well.
I was so touched last year by this scene in Les Miserables. As you may know, a new movie version of Les Mis is out and in theaters now.
To get the essence of what Victor Hugo was trying to get across to the culture of France in his time (1700’s) –you should realize that Jean Valjean was put into prison for stealing 1 loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving family.
In the early scenes of this part of the movie he finds his redemption. Please watch to the end of part 5.
The Bishop says some radical things at the table: “You are my brother!” Jean Valjean rips off part of the only remaining possessions the Bishop has of value in the world, his silver. The French police find him in his tattered state and do not believe that he actually could own the silver in his possession. I am sure they press him until he tells them where he got the silver.
Notice at the end of the scene, the “good” Bishop allows silence to do its work in Valjean’s heart.
The scene where Valjean converts is choppy up but if you watch closely you hear and see his hard demeanor soften by the Spirit that is prodding him to release all and give over his life to the One who wants to bless him even more.
The Bishop was determined to help Jean Valjean see his potential. But, Jean Valjean must experience forgiveness first. The Bishop doesn’t just forgive him, he blesses by giving him the silver candlesticks. And then he says, Jean, my brother.
You no longer belong to evil. With this silver I bought your soul. I’ve ransomed you from fear and hatred. And now I give you back to God.
What was he saying? He was saying… My forgiveness has set you free from your past so you can live the life that God meant for you to live.
It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were ransomed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18,19
Valjean finds his joy at the feet of the Bishop who emulates Jesus to him.
John Ortberg relates of Valjean in this scene:
Jean Valjean waits for the condemnation that he knows he deserves. Instead he is blindsided by grace. One moment he faces poverty and prison, the next freedom and abundance. Before Valjean leaves, the bishop says to him, “You must never forget this moment. Your soul and your life have been bought back. You are not your own. From now on, you belong to God.”
And because of grace, Jean Valjean’s life becomes an act of love. He honors the promise given to a dying prostitute: he devotes himself to raising her child, Cosette. Later he faces danger to save the man who loves Cosette, even though he knows it may mean living life alone.
In the end it is Valjean, the convict, who is able to love. He comes to see what is expressed so beautifully in the musical Les Miz: “To love another person is to see the face of God.” — John Ortberg in Love Beyond Reason
What are your thoughts? What feelings rise in you as you see this scene?
English: New York City: Les Misérables at the Imperial Theatre. Location: Manhattan