From a thief to a father


Les Miserables. What a choice of movie for Christmas.

My hubby and I concluded that it’s the greatest movie we’ve ever watched so far. In the midst of all complexities of life in this historical novel, the themes of forgiveness, God’s grace, and basically God Himself stood strong. Victor Hugo, the original writer,  has shown us where HOPE could ever be found even when everything might seem so dark.

After the movie, my first reflections were all about how grace has the power to turn a life around. A thief named Jean Valjean — he first stole bread due to poverty, then steals the church’s silverware due to his fallen conscience. Yet, because of the grace shown to him by Bishop Myriel (God’s representative), he was able to turn around and became a provider and protector of others. Moreover, he even fathered and raised an orphan girl Cosette.

That’s exactly how redeeming grace works in a man’s life!

The life of Valjean the thief was turned around after his encounter with Bishop Myriel. Myriel provided Valjean shelter when Valjean was a bitter, rejected social outcast. Myriel refused to condemn Valjean as thief when the police brought Valjean back along with the silverware that he had stolen. Valjean’s theft was evident, but Myriel gave Valjean a key to triumph over the corruption of human nature, i.e., God’s forgiveness, restoration and acceptance of a new person in Christ.

Later, Valjean lived a new life with his new name, Monsieur Madeleine. He became an entrepreneur as well as a mayor. His character did not erode when his life turned better. In fact, he made good use of his new position to help the needy.

Nonetheless, Monsieur Madeleine was not able to live a smooth and undisturbed life. Inspector Javert, who was determined to hunt down on Valjean, nearly took hold of him a few times.

“Once a thief, always a thief” Javert, the enforcer of the law pronounced.

However, a man who repented his sin and was offered forgiveness by God has the power to break his habitual sin and stop the spiral down morality.

Yes, Madeleine or Valjean might be living a long, difficult life due to the ways the world function. However, Valjean also had with him God-given peace and strength ever since his conversion at the Cross.

When Valjean died of a good, old age, he had his adopted daughter Cosette as well as son-in-law Marius by his side. Being loved, admired and highly-respected by his loved ones, Valjean was no longer a thief  but an honored father. He died a happy man.


About Florence Kuek

Was lecturer and researcher at a state university. Currently serving as Head of Student Services at a college. Has a pastoral heart for people. PhD candidate, Chinese Studies at University of Malaya.
This entry was posted in Redemption, The Cross. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to From a thief to a father

  1. Ee-Tan Chow says:

    I love this movie too and watched it twice within a fortnight.. while Valjean was the recipient of God’s grace and forgiveness and had a life turnaround, unfortunately Javert represents someone who could not understand or accept the power of forgiveness and grace. And chose to end his life rather than be the subject of mercy and grace. Quite sad.. Poignant story and great acting and music.. 🙂

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