In Matthew 12:7, in the context of speaking to the Pharisees about who He was, Yeshua refers to something that the prophet Hosea wrote. It was, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” In order to understand this statement and the way Yeshua is using it we must go back to the Hebrew in Hosea 6:6 and also look at the rest of the verse.
In Hosea the Hebrew of the verse means this, “I am pleased with loving kindness not slaughter, the knowledge of God from ‘olah’ (the burnt offering sacrifice that goes up or ascends to the LORD). In other words, the olah was meant to teach us something about God and what He wanted from us. This sacrifice that goes up to God was a daily sacrifice that represented His people and what He wanted from them. The word is connected to the word ‘aliyah’, which also means to ascend and is used today in the context of the people returning to the land of Israel.
The greatest commandment and the second are to love God and your neighbor. The apostle Paul in Romans 12 tells us that we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, referring back to the daily burnt offering. This verse in Hosea is saying that it is not about the sacrifice or slaughter of the animal, but about the kindnesses we show God and our neighbor.
Therefore, when Yeshua in Matthew 12 refers to this verse in Hosea and tells them that something greater than the Temple is here, Himself, the Messiah, He is showing and teaching them the lesson of the sacrifice. It is to truly show kindness and to understand that everything that God has given was meant to teach them something about Himself, whether it be the laws of the Torah, the daily sacrifice or the shew bread in the Tabernacle.
Instead of showing such kindness the Pharisees were more interested in condemning the innocent, namely Yeshua.
We also see that as Yeshua continues in this chapter of Matthew that it is lawful to heal on Shabbat because it is showing your neighbor the kindness of God.
The lessons of the Temple were given for a reason. They teach us what God wants from us and they point us to the One greater than the Temple.