Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 15:10-20.
But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: “ (Matthew 15:13-14a).
When the disciples came to Christ reporting that the Pharisees have been offended by his teaching, he responded: “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (v. 13b).
This statement recalls other teachings of our Lord, like that in John 15:2, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away.”
Even more striking is the parallel to Christ’s parable of the wheat and the tares, recorded in Matthew 13:24-30, in which Christ describes how an enemy came in the night and “sowed tares among the wheat” (v. 25). When the servants suggested to the master that he uproot the tares, he forbade them, lest “ye root up also the wheat with them” (v. 29). Instead, the wise householder said, “Let them grow together until the harvest” and then separate them (v. 30). See also Christ’s interpretation of the parable in 13:37-43.
What is Christ saying now in our passage? He is saying that these Pharisees are tares. They have not been planted by the heavenly Father, but by an enemy, the devil. This recalls Christ’s words to his opponents in John 8:44, “Ye of your father the devil.” At the end of the ages, Christ says, they will be rooted up!
Christ then adds in v. 14a: “Let them alone.” Again, this is like the parable of the wheat and the tares. The response of Christ to the presence of ungodly men in the assembly of the saints, unconverted men who claim to be pious and holy and conscientious, zealous for purity, is simply to let them alone. Wait till the day of judgement, when such men will be plucked up, placed in the scales of divine justice, and cast into hell.
There is a solemn warning here against those, like the Pharisees, who were offended by Christ, never considering that Christ might be offended by them. Such men will one day be rooted up.
As with the parable of the tares, there is also a reminder here to the church that we must trust the Lord’s judgment in the end and not presume we can sort all these things out ourselves in this age. Sometimes the wisest thing to do is to heed Christ’s words: “Let them alone” (v. 14). We can trust the Lord to defend his own cause.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle