As the elder prayed in this manner with great sorrow, he became extremely thirsty and said to the thief, “My child, since I am sinful, God handed me over to you so you can kill me. In this manner, the Lord will fulfill your wish, while I, as an evil person, will be deprived of this life. Please, do me a very small favor, and fulfill a trivial request that I have: give me a little water to drink, and then go ahead and behead me.”
As soon as the thief heard these words, he placed the sword he was holding back into its sheath. He then took a small cup out of his vest pocket and eagerly proceeded to a nearby stream in order to fill it with water and bring it back to the elder. However, as he had kneeled down and was attempting to fill the vessel with water, he died.
In the meantime, the elder was waiting for the thief. When much time had gone by, the elder thought to himself, “Perhaps he was very tired and fell asleep. This might be a good chance for me to flee and return to my cell ... Alas, I am too old, and he will likely catch up to me, and then he will mercilessly torture me and cut me to pieces. I’ll stay. I’ll go down to the stream to see what he’s up to.”
With such thoughts the elder made his way to the stream, where he found the dead thief. Filled with amazement and surprise, he raised his hands to heaven and exclaimed, “O merciful Lord! I will not lower my hands from this position until You reveal to me this mystery that I am witnessing. Have pity on my effort, and make Your ways known to me.”
As the elder was praying, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do you see, O elder, the dead man laying before you? He suffered a sudden and unexpected death so that you may escape from his hands.
Proceed to bury him as a person who has been saved. Because his obedience to you, that is, the fact that he placed his sword back in his sheath and went to bring you water to quench your thirst, pacified God’s wrath, and He accepted the thief as a disciple of obedience. Additionally, the fact that he revealed to you that he had committed ninety-nine murders was viewed by God as a confession. Therefore, bury him and commemorate him along with the saved souls.
You have come to know the abyss of God’s compassion and mercy. Return to your cell joyfully, and continue to pray eagerly. No longer be sad and think that you are sinful and thus deprived from divine revelations. As you have seen, God revealed to you one of His mysteries. Also know that all your ascetical struggles are acceptable to God; for there is no effort that takes place for God that is spurned by Him.”
After hearing the above, the elder proceeded to bury the deceased, and he returned to his cell peacefully, glorifying the Lord.