Today’s devotional homes in on the word “leave” (Gr., apheimei) as Jesus used it in Matthew 15:13-14. It can be taken in several senses. Harold Fowler thought it could be read in four different ways, and his third option seems the way to go:
Give up on the Pharisees, because they are incorrigible. Stop worrying about what they think, because there comes a time when you must “shake the dust off your feet against them” and abandon them to their wilful blindness and self-chosen fate (Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 3, Bible Study Textbook Series [Joplin MO: College Press, 1978]: 363).
He leads one to believe all his options may be valid, among which is the sense of “forgive,” but then he comes back with the following thought, which sounds more like the option quoted above:
The Pharisees’ spiritual condition, with its self-willed blindness and stubborn hypocrisy, its deliberate adherence to human traditions rather than love for God and His revelations, fully justifies His (and, consequently, their) abandoning them to their just condemnation (pp. 363-64).
There’s a difference in backing off (and apologizing!) so as to keep people from getting rankled and in giving up on them because they are incorrigible. The disciples want to do the former, but Jesus won’t let them. He washes his hands of them. Future contacts are not for their benefit, but for others who may be wavering and wondering.