Les Misérables (Christ’s Authority)
Main Point: Jesus’ authority is unmatched which means He has the final say on everything. Fortunately for us, He has decided to use His authority to forgive us of our sins.
The Movie Clip:
Les Misérables, or Les Mis, as it’s often known, is a powerful story of justice and forgiveness set in the shadow of the French Revolution. The movie follows the life of Jean Valjean (played by Liam Neeson), a man who has just been released from prison after serving 19 years of hard labor for stealing bread. He is shown such incredible kindness, mercy, and generosity by a priest that he vows to change his life, which he does.
Eventually, Valjean becomes a wealthy man and mayor of his city. But unfortunately for Valjean, the city’s police chief is a man named Javert (played by Geoffrey Rush) who was once a guard at the same prison in which Valjean was kept. Javert becomes suspicious that his mayor – and boss – is none other than the criminal he once guarded.
In spite of that stress, Valjean continues to keep his promise to lead a changed life. When he meets Fantine, a single mom who works as a prostitute, he rescues her from some men on the street and then from the merciless arrest of Officer Javert. Fantine’s life, and that of her daughter Cosette, become entwined in Valjean’s as he continues to keep his promise to the priest.
Introducing the Clip:
Les Misérables is a classic, and has been since it was written in France in 1862. In fact, the story has taken Broadway by storm, and has even been made into a movie on several occasions. I want to show you a clip from this powerful story in which a mayor comes to the legal aid of a prostitute. But what you need to know is that the mayor was once a prisoner and was guarded by a man who is now the police chief. That’s right; the police chief, whom you’ll see in this clip, now works for a former criminal he used to guard, though he isn’t quite aware of that yet. Take a look at how the criminal-turned-mayor uses his newfound authority.
The video clip is available for purchase at WingClips.com and you can access it by clicking on the following link: http://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/les-miserables/free-to-go
The clip we just watched hinges on authority; one man, the mayor, had more authority than the other man, the police chief. The cool thing is, the mayor used his authority to set the woman free. In our lives, the truth is a profound one: Jesus’ authority is unmatched. That means He has the final say on everything in this universe. Fortunately for us, Jesus has decided to use His authority to forgive us of our sins. So, because Jesus has final authority, He tells us we are free. Let’s take a look at the Bible for an even deeper example of this.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRLCE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and the highest ranking government official we’ve ever met.
- ASK A FEW: As you watched the scene, how would you describe the police chief (or Inspector)?
- ASK A FEW: How would you describe the mayor?
- ASK A FEW: Do you think Fantine should have been punished or not? Why? (Leaders – She was definitely guilty of lashing out at the men who were picking on her in the scene we did not see; she even admits that. But they were the ones who started it. However, she makes matters worse for herself by spitting in the mayor’s face. So while she might not be guilty of all the police chief thinks she is, she is guilty for some things.)
- ASK A FEW: On what grounds did the mayor instruct the soldiers to release her? (Leaders – This is a key question for the entire lesson. He claimed he was the ultimate authority on legal matters in the city and that his decision was to forgive her.)
- ASK A FEW: In one line, the police chief says, “You don’t have the right to forgive her.” Do you agree or disagree with him, and why?
- ASK A FEW: Did the mayor use his authority wisely in this scene? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: What does “having authority” and “having the final say” have in common? (Leaders – Whoever has the authority gets the final say in the matter.)
Read the following passage:
Luke 5:17-26 (NIV)
One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” 21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
Les Mis is a powerful story from start to finish. It shows how two very different men use their authority. One man, the police chief, uses his authority to crush others, including himself. The other man, the mayor, uses his authority to help others.
Jesus uses His authority in a similar way. In the story we read, Jesus talked about having the authority to forgive sins. That’s a really big deal! In fact, that statement got Him into a lot of trouble with the experts of His day because when Jesus said He could forgive sins, what He was really saying was that He was God. That really ticked some people off, as you saw.
But, as this story shows, Jesus used His authority to totally change a man’s life. He forgave him of his sins, and also healed him from being paralyzed. But the cool thing is, Jesus actually has a history of using His authority to set people free. This wasn’t the only time Jesus used His authority to help others.
Perhaps the best way to conclude our time together is to read one of the most powerful stories in the entire Bible. It’s taken from John 8:1-11 and goes like this:
- Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.