If、 however、 ye had known what this meaneth— Mercy I desire、 and not sacrifice Ye would not have condemned the blameless;” (Matthew 12:7, EMPH)

Jesus absolutely scorches the Pharisees here as they condemn Jesus’ disciples for plucking grain to eat from the fields of grain on the Sabbath, because they were hungry. Jesus points out that David did essentially the same thing. [eating the consecrated bread when he and his men were hungry]  Then this statement. Jesus either directly states or implies that:

  1. They did not understand Hosea 6.6 from which he quotes.  The Pharisees were supposed to be the most religious and dedicated members in society, but they did not understand what it meant to have mercy over the legal forms of religion.
  2. They were condemning the disciples (and Jesus himself) even though they were blameless. – In other words, it was okay to do things like feed oneself on the Sabbath when one was hungry, even if the meant “working” to get the food or eating consecrated bread.
  3. Human beings are more important than the Sabbath. This is what Jesus implies in his statement.  It was more important for hungry men to be fed than it was to follow the rules that man had set up as an extension of God’s law.
  4. Mercy trumps sacrifice. The Pharisees were patting themselves on the back for their commitment to God’s Law [plus their added rules], Jesus says they lack mercy and it is a fatally missing component of their commitment to God.

We must never allow our own rules to become so important that they not only go beyond what God has decreed, but we begin to lack mercy in the process.  This is a grievous and fatal error.