The Repentant Sinner short story by Leo Tolstoy
‘The Repentant Sinner is a beautiful, thought-provoking short story written by Leo Tolstoy, who was a great Russian novelist and philosopher, thinker and moralist. This story is based on the 42, 43 lines of 23rd Chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel in the Bible.
When Jesus Christ was nailed on the cross between two thieves on the Golgotha mount, one of the thieves repented and, recognizing Jesus as the son of God, prayed to Him that he might also be remembered when Christ reached Heavenly Kingdom. At once Christ replied that he would be with Jesus in Paradise that day itself. This golden offer of love amazes every reader of the Bible. This part of the Bible teaches everyone of the infinite love of God even to the repented sinners of the world at the last minute.
The Bible proclaims ‘God is love’ which is a miraculous experience for every sinner because God knows the weakness of human beings. Once there was a man who lived for seventy years in sin and fell ill but even then he did not repent. But when he was dying, he wept and repented and prayed to God to forgive him as He had forgiven the thief upon the cross.
The soul of the sinner believing in the mercy of God went to the gates of heaven and knocked. The voice of St. Peter told him that sinners were not allowed in Heaven. Then the soul of the repented sinner told St. Peter that Peter had the great fortune to hear the Bible teachings from the holy lips of Jesus Christ and Christ loved Peter and raised him to the status of the leader of the twelve disciples and Peter witnessed the miracles of Jesus.
Yet, Peter betrayed Jesus on many a number of occasion. When Jesus and his disciples were praying to God at the Getsamene garden, Christ saw Peter sleeping in spite of repeated requests of Christ to pray with him. Thus Apostle Peter disobeyed his master three times. Still Christ forgave Peter for his human weakness. Again when Jesus was arrested and taken to the High Priest for trial, Peter denied publicly three times that he did not know Jesus. When Christ was nailed to the cross, Peter and other disciples ran away in fear and took shelter in a safety place and thus Peter abandoned his loving master for his own safety.
In spite of a life-long companionship and teaching from Christ, Peter the Apostle could not reform himself. Then it is natural the repented sinner could not do any good deed while he was on the earth. But these arguments and requests of the repented sinner did not make any impression upon the saint and the gate of heaven was not opened to him and the voice of Peter was silent.
But the spirit of the repented sinner continued to knock on the gate and this time the voice of King David to get out because sinners were not allowed in Heaven. The spirit of the repented sinner said that the King of Israel committed many a number of sins.
David was loved by God and made the dwarfish, illiterate shepherd was raised to the highest rank in Israel by crowning him as the country’s king. God blessed him in innumerable ways and was given wealth, beautiful wives and children. Yet he coveted Uriave’s beautiful young wife Bethsheba. Uriave was David’s trusted soldier and was willing to die for his beloved King David. But ungrateful David killed the brave soldier in a treacherous manner and possessed his wife. While she was bathing, the King saw her and called her to his palace and slept with her and she became pregnant. So David wanted to possess her by any means. He sent Uriave to the battle and arrangements were made in secret to kill him in the battle. Then David made Bethsheba his wife.
Yet Heavenly Father forgave David’s crimes, when he repented and allowed him a place in Heaven. When the repented sinner’s spirit explained how God’s mercy helped David and requested him to allow the spirit enter the Heavenly kingdom, the voice of David was silent.
But the repented sinner was not disappointed and began to knock on the door a third time. This time it was the voice of John the Divine and the sinner was very glad. The sinner knew well that John the Divine was the most beloved disciple of Jesus Christ. Among the four Gospels written by St. Matthew, St. Luke, St. Mark and St. John, only John’s Gospel begins with the sentence “In the beginning there was Word, Word was with God and Word was God. Similarly this is the only gospel where the reader can find the wonderful sentence “God is love”. Therefore the repented sinner requested St. John to let him enter the kingdom of Heaven, because John alone enjoyed the depth of God’s love. At once the gate of Heaven was opened and the repented spirit entered.
1.What was the strange request of one the thieves on the cross to Jesus Christ?
2.What is the similarity of the request of the repented sinner and the request of the thief on the cross?
3.What is the amazing quality of Jesus response to one of the thieve’s request on the cross?
4.How many voices responded to the request of the repented sinner when he knocked on the gate of Heaven?
5.How Peter the Apostle disobeyed Jesus while praying at the Gethsameni garden.?
6.How Peter betrayed Jesus at the courtyard of the palace of the Chief Priest?
7.How Jesus was betrayed by Peter the Apostle when Jesus was nailed to the cross?
8.What are the crimes of David the King, according to the repented sinner?
9.What was the response of David to the request of the repented sinner?
10.Who is Bathsheba?
11.Who is the second son of Bathsheba?
12.What was the response of John the Divine to the request of the repented sinner?
13.How many Gospels are there in the Bible and explain the uniqueness of St. John’s Gospel?