Literature & Life

The Remorseful Sinner: A Biblical Story by Tolstoy

“And he said unto Jesus; Lord,

remember me, when you come into your Kingdom.

And Jesus said to him, verily I say unto thee,

now today. shalt thou be with me in Heaven.”

(The Luke. XXIII, 42, 43)

The Remorseful Sinner, is a short story written by Leo Tolstoy; one of the greatest Russian writers in the 19th century. The short story was published in 1886. It is a biblical story, based on a Christian Moral theme. The story begins with the verse from the Holy Bible, from the Gospel of the Evangelist Saint Luke. This verse describes a sinner, (a thief) who repents his sins, and asks Jesus to remember him, when Jesus returns to heaven. This humility, shown by the thief touches the heart of Jesus, and therefore Jesus tells him that, he will accompany him to heaven on the same day. This verse gives the message that, if a person repents his or her sins, then God will definitely forgive his or her sins.

The Remorseful Sinner, is a story about a 70-year-old thief, who spent all his life in sins. Once he gets very ill, and there is no hope for him to recover from that illness, still, he does not repent his sins. Finally, when death comes to his doorstep, somehow, he manages to say to the Lord to forgive him… and while asking for forgiveness; he truly believed in God, and His Mercy. Finally, when he dies, he comes to the Gates of Heaven, and starts knocking, and begging, so that, he would be allowed in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Suddenly, a voice comes from behind the door, and later on, all his sins are enumerated. When it is found that, he never did a good thing in his lifetime; the voice from behind the door says that, sinners like him cannot be allowed in Heaven. The thief, asks for the name of the speaker behind the door. The voice replies that it’s Peter, The Apostle. The thief then asks Peter, to remember the Human Weakness, and the Mercy of God. Later on, he makes the apostle recall his human life, and his deeds by saying that, when Jesus asked him three times to Stay Awake, and Pray; he didn’t do so, because he was sleepy that night. This way he disobeyed the Lord! Again, when Jesus was taken to Caiaphas; Peter denied the Lord, three times, and when he realised that, he had denied the lord, he wept. After hearing all this, the voice from behind the door gets silent.

After a while, the thief hears another voice, which orders him to go away from the doors of heaven. He comes to know that; it was King David speaking from behind the door. The thief then makes King David, recall his questionable deeds, and makes him remember, how sin entered the King’s mind, when he saw poor Uriah’s wife, and how he took his wife, and killed the poor man, with the sword of the ammonites. The thief further says that, he also did similar sins, and also repented as the King did! Therefore, he should be allowed in Heaven! When he fights his case this way: the voice from behind the door gets silent.

He again knocks on the door of heaven. Now he hears the third voice, which also says that, the sinner cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. After enquiring, he comes to know that, Saint John, the Evangelist is speaking from behind the door. After knowing that, he gets very delighted, because he knew that, both Peter and King David will let him in, because they know Human Weakness, and the Mercy of the God, and St. John will also allow him in, because he has lot of love in him. The thief says to Saint John the Evangelist that, he wrote in his book that, God is love, and that anyone who doesn’t love, doesn’t know God. He further says that, Saint John gave the message to people, to Love One Another. Therefore, he cannot hate him, and send him away. And finally, the gates of heaven open, and Saint John hugs the Remorseful Sinner, and admits him to the Kingdom of Heaven.

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