In the matter of forgiveness I think we all construct our own hierarchies of worthiness. The single most powerful factor seems to be proximity. The matter of forgiveness weighs heaviest upon us in regards to those closest to us – those whom we love most, and then other friends, associates, acquaintances and so on down to those we never met or who live in other places. It is easiest to forgive those whom we love most. If our love is true and deep and without condition, forgiveness is an almost automatic attachment. In fact, our ability to forgive those we love may be an eminent measure of the parity of our love. Those who were closest to You in Your life on this earth brought with them much to forgive. The apostles, any number of Your disciples, and the ragtag outcasts that populated the perimeters of Your circle were all in dire need of the forgiveness which You so willingly granted them.
My own familiarity with myself and all the faults, mistakes, and weaknesses for which I am in need of healing forgiveness, especially from You and from those I love most, give me a picture of the necessity of this grace in my life.
There is, too, the next notch down in this hierarchy of forgiveness: those who are close, whom I like, but are not inside the most intimate circle of my love. For these forgiveness comes with more difficulty; but Your actions establish the measure for these as well as for those I don’t even know but read or hear aboutin the news.
We are not deserving of forgiveness. We are deserving of punishment. But You took upon Yourself all the agony, punishment, abuse, suffering, embarrassment, insult, torture and death that we deserve and forgave us. You forgave all of us, not just those close to You or those in the same historical setting, but everyone that went before or would come after You. It is this extent of forgiveness and forgetfulness that we should strive to emulate if not in overt demonstration then at least in the depths of our hearts.