Thousands heard the gospel this week. It wasn't in a Candlelight service or a Christmas reading, not in a church building or on a street corner. No, the gospel was preached to thousands in movie theaters across the country. Say what you will about the recent film adaptation of Victor Hugo's prolific work (spanning five volumes unabridged; abridged, given music and lyrics, and made famous on Broadway), but Les Misérables is a humble hero's story if there ever was one and who can fault the director for attempting the project? When the camera (ever so sparingly) panned out far enough to see the bodies of the film's characters and sets, it was beautiful to behold. Although I was a bit preoccupied giving each actor a full oral exam to note much about costumes and sets, I found myself glad in a way that I was distracted by little else but the story.
I am familiar with Les Misérables. By familiar I mean I have read all five original volumes, several abridged versions, watched every film version I'm aware exists, and my bucket list holds only one item: see LM on Broadway. I know the story. I know The Miserables. I understand Jean Valjean is a type of Christ figure and we're all to be dutifully impressed by his acts of mercy and grace. And that he is also a type of us figure, haunted by the brokenness of his past and the inevitability of judgement.
But I don't think I have ever taken in the fullness of the gospel drenched lyrics as much as I did while the actors were belting out familiar lyrics.
Near the end when Javert is walking along the bridge about to jump to his death, he sings one line and I can't get it out of my head: I am the law and the law will not be mocked.
Earlier this year my pastor preached through the book of Galatians and every week he turned our eyes back at the purpose of the law. The purpose was only to show us that we could not complete it, we could not fulfill it, we could not even begin to obey it, and so we needed Christ. But even still the purpose of the law stands as a diagnostic for us, like an MRI, my pastor says, diagnosing the problem but powerless to fix it.
So as Javert leaped off the side of that concrete bridge, jumping to his death, I thought, "Oh God, thank you that your law cannot be mocked. No matter how much we fall short, no matter how deeply we disappoint, no matter how fully we fail—we cannot mock the law. Christ finished it for us, extending grace we do not deserve, sending the law to a death of sorts—no longer the measuring stick by which we make our way on glory's paths, but still a standard of righteousness and benchmark of truth. Thank you that we cannot mock the law because You created the law and You cannot be mocked."
There are many Gospel truths to be mined from the musical and I hope you'll go see it. Don't be too distracted by the close-ups of tonsils and teeth; let instead your distraction be grace and the fulfillment of our debt to the law of sin and death.