Luke 14:1

ESV One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully.
NIV One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.
NASB It happened that when He went into the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching Him closely.
CSB One Sabbath, when he went in to eat at the house of one of the leading Pharisees, they were watching him closely.
NLT One Sabbath day Jesus went to eat dinner in the home of a leader of the Pharisees, and the people were watching him closely.
KJV And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.
NKJV Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely.

What does Luke 14:1 mean?

Luke 14:1—15:32 continues Luke's habit of organizing his stories by theme. As in Luke 13:10–35, 17:11—18:34, and 18:35—19:27, this section begins with a miraculous healing and continues with lessons on the kingdom of God. In this case, Luke focuses on who will enter the kingdom. These are the humble (Luke 14:7–11), the generous (Luke 14:12–14), those who answer the call (Luke 14:15–24), those who endure in their faith (Luke 14:25–35), and the lost whom Jesus seeks out (Luke 15).

Considering how often Jesus and the Pharisees clash, it may be surprising to see Him once again invited for a formal meal in a Pharisee's home. We know it's formal because they "recline" on couches (Luke 14:15). In such cases, the host would invite friends, family, and people who would provide good conversation and increase his social standing. He also assumes these important people would reciprocate with their own invitations (Luke 14:12). Other people from the area would be welcome to stand along the walls and listen in. The man with dropsy (Luke 14:2) may be one of those who wanted to listen.

"Ruler of the Pharisees" is an awkward term in English. This doesn't necessarily mean the man was a commanding leader within the group. It means he is a member of the sect of the Pharisees and he is some kind of leader: he may oversee a synagogue, or work as a civil official or chief priest. Even if he were a chief priest, it wouldn't mean this event takes place in Jerusalem. Priests only served specific shifts at the temple.

The host and his other guests—only men were invited to such banquets—are "watching him carefully." Ever since Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and their lawyers, they have been "lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say" (Luke 11:54).Commentators such as Darrell Bock have described this as "watching [Jesus] lurkingly." They want Him dead, and they need hard proof that He commits a capital offense.
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