Jesus knew right what He was doing when He went in and did not do according to the religious custom. He was setting up a “teachable moment”. We would all do well to heed the lessons.
He calls the religious leaders out as a group who is hypocritical, reminds them that God is more concerned about the heart than the hands, and calls on them to repent. They needed to learn to live from the inside out. Purity on the inside is what causes true piety on the outside, because out of the heart flow the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). Otherwise, it is all for show.
He then goes even further to say that their disciplined giving does not give them a license to neglect the most important things (Micah 6:6-8). Their desire to appear important does not mean that they meet the marks of what is truly holy. Their appearance may conceal their corruption to some, but people were still defiled by having been with them. This, of course, really made the leaders’ blood boil.
He then says that all they are is talk; they don’t do what they teach. They don’t even do anything to help people’s burdens; they just place more burdens upon them. They aren’t concerned with ministry to people, just mastery over them (1 Peter 5:2-3).
Jesus now links them in the biblical line of persecutors, even though they deny it (Jeremiah 2:30 / Matthew 23:29-30). They are just like the people who pretended piety before them. They are responsible for their rebellion against God. By their legalism, they had kept people from learning God’s love, and they had not learned themselves. If you can’t learn, your own knowledge will destroy you. They were a hindrance to holiness not a help.
They did not receive the correction (Proverbs 17:10, 28:26, 29:1 / Ecclesiastes 7:5); they did not want the truth.
The question is, do you (Galatians 4:16)?