At the beginning of this chapter, Jesus’ disciples are taken to task by some of the religious leaders for not washing their hands. To be honest, washing your hands is very wise behavior. I was taught to wash my hands before meals as a child and still do on most occasions, even if I have to use hand sanitizer. I wash though to keep germs somewhat at bay and prevent disease. Again… Washing hands is very wise behavior. However, the issue arrises when the religious leaders raised the wise behavior to the level of the law and imposed it on the disciples.
Jesus immediately corrects the situation and calls the leaders on their hardness of heart. They were more concerned with what went in a person than what came out. Jesus declared that the heart was the issue. The disciples could have a right heart and practice some unwise behavior by not washing their hands. However, the religious leaders were in the habit of washing hands, but were far from God in their hearts as they were actually finding ways to dishonor heir parents while still appearing right with God.
The point is that God is most concerned with our actual obedience, not just the appearance of obedience. It’s easy to elevate wise behavior to the level of law and think that we are okay before God because we wash our hands, rinse our vegetables, and put a thermometer in our meat, but the real issue is are we testing God in obedience?