What Les Miserables Taught Me about Mercy...


One of my favorite stories is of Victor Hugo’s, “Les Miserables”. I never really knew much of the book, or the story for that matter, until I watched the movie with some friends in 1998. I was instantly captivated by the themes of grace, forgiveness and mercy from the life of the main character, Jean Valjean. If you’ve never seen the movie, or read the book, you really should. I guarantee you will not regret it!

In one particular scene, Jean Valjean finds himself caught in the middle of someone else’s problems. Her name is Fantine, she is an employee of his company but also a prostitute. When Fantine is found out, she is severely beaten and left for dead. That is, until Valjean takes it upon himself to nurse her to health and to care for her fatherless child.


The scene of him caring for a helpless, beaten prostitute is one of divine mercy. A display of someone who clearly remembers his own past and the mercy which was given to him, as well as Valjean’s willingness to abandon his self-comfort and enter into Fantine’s woundedness.

This mercy that Valjean shows Fantine is exactly the kind of mercy Jesus refers to in Matthew 5:7, where he says, “blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”. It’s a mercy that goes beyond simply feeling sorry for someone and willingly get’s inside the other person to the point where we can see through their eyes and feel what they are experiencing. This kind of mercy that can transform a person’s life!

The question is...are we willing to say ‘yes’ to the ways of Jesus today and leave our self-comfort? It won’t be easy, I can promise you. But I believe it will usher us into the kind of full life Jesus promised when we follow him...

Grace and Peace. Pastor Rex

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