The hero of “Les Mis,” Jean Valjean, spends 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. When Valjean is released from prison, he finds it challenging to start over. After spending the night with a Bishop, he absconds with some of the Bishop’s silver, but is captured and hauled back before the Bishop.
Expecting a swift and speedy return to prison, Valjean finds unexpected grace. The Bishop not only corrobates Valjean’s story that the silver was a gift, the Bishop gives Valjean the rest of it.
And remember this, my brother,
See in this some higher plan.
You must use this precious silver
To become an honest man.
By the witness of the martyrs,
By the Passion and the Blood,
God has raised you out of darkness.
I have bought your soul for God.
Valjean expected punishment. Instead Valjean receives a gift he did not deserve and a chance at new life. That surprising and unexpected grace is the point of Romans 5:12-21.
By end of chap. 4, Paul made case for why justification by faith. In the first half of the chapter (Romans 5:1-11), he argued that justification gives us personal significance. In the second half of Romans 5, he makes the same point another way: grace abounds.
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