In yet another baseless attack against the Lord and His disciples (cf Matt 12:1ff), the Pharisees confront Jesus about defilement by eating with unwashed hands.
Unlike the first attack, wherein the Pharisees accused Jesus based on their adherence to hedges created around the Law, this matter was admittedly one based solely upon human tradition (v 2).
Rather than dealing head on with their error, Jesus first points out their own lack of adherence to the Law in the matter of honoring father and mother. The Pharisees, (who were lovers of money – Luke 16:14), concocted a scheme whereby a man could dedicate his wealth to the service of the temple, and in so doing “free” himself from the Law of God commanding him to honor his father and mother (Ex 20:12).
Why would a man neglect his parents in this way? Perhaps because of the gross influence wielded by the Pharisees over the minds of the people. If they could convince a man to turn over his wealth into their hands, they could in turn give him reassurance of a place of security in the kingdom and the hereafter.
This is not at all unlike the sale of indulgences practiced by Roman Catholicism for centuries. Authorized by the Pope, priests sold indulgences to the masses to raise money for the Vatican. A man could literally pay money to the priest and receive absolution for a sin he had not yet committed but intended to commit! Though the specific sale of indulgences was outlawed by the Catholic Church in 1567, similar forms still exist today.
The practice of Catholicism aside, it remains common for religious leaders and charlatans to dupe the undiscerning into giving away their wealth to the work of some “ministry,” that “ministry” being the bank account of said leader.
Surely there is some allusion to these practices when Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees for devouring widow’s houses (Matt 23:14). They devoured them by robbing them via Corban (cf Mark 7:11-12) or by convincing them to give everything into their hands for religious security.