Throughout Jesus’ ministry He was constantly opposed by the Pharisees who seemed to watch Him like a hawk waiting for His to mess up so they could criticise Him. They had a huge list of rules and traditions. In their minds the spiritual obeyed the rules and the ungodly did not.
Jesus and His disciples were never ones to follow those traditions. Over and over again they did things that rankled the sensitivities of the Pharisees. When the Pharisees complained Jesus chose to drive the point home. The traditions they had developed through the years had no basis in scriptures. These men had made God’s word “of no effect” by their man-made traditions. Their rules had become the standard instead of God’s word. They drew near to God with their lips and they knew all the right words, but their hearts were far from God.
There is a clear warning here against setting up man-made standards as the plumb line of spirituality. What God really expects in simply having a right heart – if we do that all the rest falls into place without the list of man’s rules.