This week we’ve seen Jesus take aim at the Pharisees for being hypocrites: they added their own rules and regulations to God’s law, which had become for them a source of status and power. What’s more, they made the symbols of their obedience (like phylacteries and tassels) stand out so that the rest of the people would treat them with honour. They were using religious observance to enhance their status.
Now this was bad enough, but the real hypocrisy hasn’t yet been exposed. In this next section, Jesus pronounces seven “woes” on the Pharisees – for becoming so focused on their own system of rules and behaviours that they were misleading the rest of the people, and neglecting the essence of the law itself!