John 7:32-52 Preconceived Ideas

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him. 33 Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34 You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.” 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36 What does he mean by saying, ‘You will seek me and you will not find me’, and, ‘Where I am you cannot come’?”

37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people over him. 44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

45 The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” 47 The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? 48 Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”

Preconceived Ideas

I have been raised in the Plymouth Brethren church in England.  In some ways I am Brethren.  I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  I believe that it points us to Jesus and Jesus reconciles us to God.  I also believe that the breaking of bread is a good thing to have every Sunday at our worship service.  I see Jesus breaking bread with his disciples in scripture and he commanded us to do this in remembrance of him.  So I was shocked to find other churches do this once a month, and some even do this only once a year.  Also, we are to worship God in spirit and in truth.  I was shocked to find some people worshiping God by dancing.  Other people make banners and pictures and put them on their walls as an aid to worship.  Shocking!  Finally, I was raised with a solid belief in the priesthood of all believers.  Everyone in the church should come with a him, song, or testimony so that the whole body should be built up.  I see other churches have a single minister, or senior pastor, and the members of the congregation pay him to put on a show on Sunday.  If he doesn’t perform well enough, they fill the pew in another church that has three rings and performing ponies!

The point is that I have read the Bible and interpreted it through my tradition.  The Pharisees did the same and they were so rigid in their preconceived ideas that they missed the Messiah himself.  They didn’t ask questions on the whole, like Nicodemus did, they pronounced judgment.  However, their judgments were fatally flawed.

As we read a gospel do we read our Western Jesus into the Middle Eastern text?  Do we soften words that should split us open?  Do we see Jesus as reaching into the center of us and making transformations?  Let’s hold up to scrutiny our preconceived notions and let’s listen to what Jesus says about himself.  Let’s seek to have relationship with the authentic Jesus and see where he leads.


Jesus, before our denominational bias we are first of all your disciples.  Let us not be Dispensational, Covenant, Calvinist, or Arminian before we are simply yours.  Let us surrender to what you will say about yourself rather than what we would say about you.

Is this the Jesus of the text or some other Jesus?


  1. Who had preconceived notions about Jesus?
  2. How did their views disqualify Jesus as the Messiah?
  3. How did common people respond to Jesus?
  4. How have you changed in your beliefs about Jesus?
  5. Why must our views of Jesus be held up to biblical scrutiny?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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20 Responses to John 7:32-52 Preconceived Ideas

  1. zacbodine says:

    I love this passage for the amount of questions that it has. It is amazing that the people ask a question and then give an answer to their question in the form of another question. “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? I love that the Bible includes questions that we still grapple with today like how was the Messianic prophecy fulfilled in Jesus and where is Jesus now. The Bible does not shy away from hard questions but includes them. Why? Because Jesus is the total answer and he is not afraid of our questions.

  2. Jenna says:

    1. Both the crowd and the pharisees had preconceived ideas about who Jesus was and who the Messiah was supposed to be.
    2. They had limited knowledge about Jesus – they knew He was from Galilee, and that the Messiah was supposed to be born in Bethlehem. Based on those facts, they ruled Jesus out as a possible Messiah.
    3. The crowd was divided, some wanted to believe that He was the Messiah, and some wanted to arrest Him!
    4. My understanding of Jesus has definitely grown since I became a Christian, mainly because I was so young and lacked a clear understanding. As I grew up in church and have come to Moody, I’ve learned so much more about who Jesus is and how He fulfills every requirement of the Messiah.
    5. Sometimes our view of God can be distorted by our feelings or experiences, but God’s Word never changes and is a much safer place to find truth about who God is!

  3. How have you changed in your beliefs about Jesus? “My beliefs in Jesus have changed because I have learned more about His person through His word. I have learned that He is the Living Word and He speaks through the Scriptures, but He and the Holy Spirit illumine the Scriptures. He has become more to me of a mysterious wonderful person with whom I have a relationship but constantly stuns me (and I do not usually catch the full meaning of it until days, or even years later). My curiosity is also peaked as I understand parts of Him at a time.

  4. tim pruiett says:

    both the crowd and the pharisees. 4. Jesus is no longer just my Savior I get to have relationship with him and be with Him forever. 5. If our views of Jesus are not correct we can fall into heresy and lead others as well as ourselves astray from the truth.

  5. Sara Cavitt says:

    1) The crowd and the Pharisees had preconceived notions about Jesus.
    2) They disqualified Jesus as the Messiah because they were confused about where He was born.
    3) The people were divided on their thoughts of Jesus. Although some wanted to arrest Him, no one touched Him.
    4) As my relationship deepens with Him, I learn more about Him and find that there is always more to be learned from Him!
    5) If the Bible is not my foundation for how I view and know Jesus, then my view will be warped and could be easily swayed by my own preconceived notions.

  6. Lacy says:

    1. Nearly everybody has preconceived notions about Jesus.
    2. They were fixating on the prophecy that said that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, and didn’t realize that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy.
    3. Common people were fascinated but confuse by him.
    4. Being at Moody has helped me realize that there is so much I still don’t know, and I am enjoying the process of learning and growing.
    5. The true Jesus can only be found in Scripture, not in denominational tradition.

  7. Beth Coale says:

    1. the crowd, the Pharisees, really we all do.
    2. because He wasn’t what they expected.
    3. they went to Him to listen to Him, and bring their sick to Him (they saw Him as giving deliverance from physical problems so far)
    4. Reading The Shack by Paul Young made me really evaluate my preconceived ideas (I think that’s really the whole purpose of the book and reason behind some controversial things about the book.)
    5. Augustine said that if you accept what you want and reject what you don’t, it’s not the gospels you believe, but yourself. We must hold our views up to the Bible to avoid this.

  8. Dylan says:

    1. Mainly the Pharisees had preconceived notions about Jesus, since they were the ones willing to arrest him without a proper hearing. The crowd was also confused by his teaching.
    2. The Pharisees put the authority in themselves rather than in God. Their reply to the officers who refused to detain Jesus was that, since they did not believe his teaching, it could not be true. This argument has no grounds.
    3. The common people were divided. Some believed he was the messiah, while others were still in question and even in favor of his arrest. However, they all considered the facts unlike the Pharisees.
    4. I am closer to Jesus than I was 5 years ago, meaning I have a deeper personal relationship with him. However, there have been many ups and downs in my walk. One sin can make Jesus seem very distant. Even after asking for forgiveness of such sins, it takes time to feel the closeness again.
    5. You get out what you put in. If I don’t study the word, I may end up with a very secular Jesus, not the true son of God.

  9. Amy McCashen says:

    1. The Pharisees.
    2. They thought the Messiah was supposed to come from Bethlehem, not Galilee. Well, they were right. AND Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
    3. Common people were amazed and astonished because no one had ever taught like Jesus was.
    4. I became a believer when I was very young- like 4. My view about Jesus has remained about the same, yet it has deepened in many, many ways throughout my life.
    5. The Bible is our source of Truth.

  10. Stephanie Luck says:

    1. Who had preconceived notions about Jesus?
    The Pharisees certainly did, along with many of the “common people”
    2. How did their views disqualify Jesus as the Messiah?
    They had expectations that the Messiah would fill—one example, is that he would have to be raised in Bethlehem.
    3. How did common people respond to Jesus?
    There were mixed reviews: some said that Jesus must be the Messiah, while others thought He was a prophet or even a crazy man.
    4. How have you changed in your beliefs about Jesus?
    My views have mainly changed from the “Sunday School answer Jesus” to a more biblically solid Jesus (though I still have a lot to work on, of course). When we really read the bible closely, Jesus often surprises us!
    5. Why must our views of Jesus be held up to biblical scrutiny?
    Because we could be totally wrong. So often people are describing their relationship with Jesus and I come to realize that we are talking about two totally different men!

  11. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    What an interesting passage! These people have no idea who they are dealing with. They are all confused as to who the Christ is. They know the law that the Christ is to come from the line of David, born in Bethlehem, yet they do not Jesus was! And you see Nicodemus again, sticking up for Jesus, defending him. So many people were bad at him and wanted to kill him, yet some were so perplexed by his words, some were amazed and some truly did believe in him.

  12. karas says:

    People seem to have had preconceived notions about Jesus since He came to the earth. In one of our classes here, we talk about how that really plays in to trying to evangelize. You need to find out what the other person’s view of Jesus is first.
    Here, my knowledge about Jesus has been deepened. I think in particular my knowledge of my union with Him and how that affects everything has changed. I think we need to scrutinize our views because we are not good at telling if we are wrong or not. We need constant examination to check for false notions.

  13. Ashley says:

    1. Everyone had preconceived notions about Jesus.
    2. They didn’t think that Christ could or should come from Galilee.
    3. Common people were confused and puzzled by Jesus.
    4. I have changed from seeing him as a distant being who died for me, to the loving God-man who dwells in and with us.
    5. Our views of Jesus must be held up to biblical scrutiny so that we are grounded in the truth.

  14. Rachel says:

    The pharisees and the crowds had strong preconceived notions about Jesus, that he would come and overthrow Roman rule and reign as the righteous king, fulfilling prophecy. I have begun to see Jesus as the true healer and righteous judge instead of a disappointed distant father. My views must not be king of Scripture, Scripture trumps my thoughts about it!

  15. Austin Brose says:

    Who had preconceived notions about Jesus?
    How did their views disqualify Jesus as the Messiah?
    How did common people respond to Jesus?
    How have you changed in your beliefs about Jesus?
    Why must our views of Jesus be held up to biblical scrutiny?

    The Pharisees, the chief priests, and the local crowd have preconceived notions about Jesus. They believed that the messiah would come as a mighty warrior and free them from the tyranny of the Roman Government. They disqualified Jesus because He was from Nazareth and he was the son of a carpenter. The common people accepted Jesus and embraced Him as the Christ. I have changed my beliefs about Jesus as I have sought to understand Him in a different way, different than the meek and mild Jesus of Sunday School with perfect hair and a robe. He was a common man, just like me, who can commiserate in all that happens. Our views must be held up to Biblical scrutiny though because that is our most valuable source that makes our view of Jesus correct.

  16. Mary says:

    “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” – Jn. 7:37–38

    I thought this verse was deep and deserved some more reflection so here is a summary of what my ESV Study Bible says: Thirsting refers to a deep desire to know God more. “Come and drink symbolizes” an ongoing trusting relationship which requires our wholehearted participation. When we do so, God works within us in such a way that spills over into blessing others.

    Prayer – Jesus, I am continually thirsty for you. Thank you for giving me a desire for you and for filling that desire. I love going to Moody and being challenged to think through what I believe and why, and relearn what the Scripture really says. Help me to confront my preconceived beliefs boldly and humbly as I submit to your authority and leading, so that I can admit where I am wrong and grow because of it. Amen.

  17. Kathleen says:

    My knowledge of Jesus is growing each and every day. Studying at Moody has allowed me to open up the Bible and read with a new perspective. I have learned how to study a text by looking at the cultural background and then relate it to our context today. I must bring my views back to the Bible for examination. I want to remain grounded in truth.

  18. nataliaria says:

    In this passage, the preconceived ideas of the Pharisees kept them from recognizing Jesus as the Messiah. They were thrown off my many things that Jesus said and did, not the least of which being his origins in Galilee. As I read, I began to wonder at the way in which Jesus seems to intentionally defy the many stipulations that the Pharisees and leaders were placing on the future Messiah, and consider how the interactions between Jesus and the Pharisees shape the gospels, and the faith of those who do believe in Jesus.

    I am not sure of the exact numbers and statistics, but the gospel accounts certainly seem to indicate that Jesus gained a greater following amongst the “common people” with whom He interacted throughout His ministry.

    Because I was four when I prayed to make Jesus the Lord of my life, and entered the family of God, I do not much recall how I perceived of Jesus before my salvation. However, in the past year my theology and understanding of my relationship with Jesus has grown greatly. Thanks in no small part to Systematic Theology, I have come to see Christ as integral to my faith not only because of His atoning death, but also as the way through which I am incorporated into the love and relationship of the Trinity. Really, Jesus is the center and the crux of my salvation, and therefore my entire life.

    Our beliefs of Jesus must be in line with biblical truth because as Christians we hold the Word of God as our highest authority and gauge of truth. If our beliefs of Jesus as the incarnate Word and the Bible as the written Word of God do not agree with one another, then we have some serious internal contradictions in our faith.

  19. Nick says:

    I have grown so much in my knowledge since being at Moody. Curricula completely centered around him and being taught through a biblical worldview has definitely contributed to that. I also had a lot of skewed views about God and I’m so grateful that those have been cleared up since I’ve been here at Moody. It is so important to have our views in line with biblical teaching because we are potentially going to be teaching students someday, and if our teaching is not in line with biblical teaching, then their understanding of our teaching is not going to be in line with biblical teaching.

  20. Rebekah Thompson (Bekah) says:

    1. The people who were standing there listening as well as the religious leaders/ pharisees
    2. Because he was from Galilee when the Savior was suppose to come from Jerusalem
    3. Everyone reacted differently, on different extremes: one was amazed and just wanted to touch him while as others were confused and did not believe him.
    4. Ever since i have been studying the Lord more indepthly I feel as if I am learning more and more about who God is….I know I will never obtain the peak of my knowledge, nor will I know everything.
    5. Because he is the God of the Bible, the words are his words

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