Nicodemus was the 1% of the 1% of Jews in Jerusalem, but after reading the first chapter of John’s gospel, the astute hearer/reader would understand that this was not what made a person right with God. Such a reader would also pick up the depth of language and concepts Jesus uses in His conversation with this powerful Pharisee.
- Our English translation barely captures the nuances of the concepts in the original (Greek) script: “Born again” can also be understood as “born from above”
- The same word can be translated as breath; wind; Spirit.
- The idea of birth/new life permeates the conversation but is restricted in our translation.
All these combined ideas and language were used by Jesus to bring Nicodemus from an understanding of “are you for us or against us” (John 3:2) to beginning to realise the new kingdom of God that was unfolding in his presence, in Jesus the Christ.
Importantly, this encounter commits the hearer/reader to grow in their faith, and not remain an infant, immature and undeveloped in the faith – especially from the point of view after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension.
The writer, John the apostle, then continues on to exhort the new Christians to be able to communicate the faith intelligently, faithfully, truthfully.
Nicodemus appears again in John’s gospel, and we find it to be an incomplete journey but importantly, Nicodemus was on the journey. I happen to believe that his inclusion in the gospel points to him having a known position within the kingdom, the early Church in Jerusalem.
This is an encounter with Jesus that John reported and used to teach the Church in his own time, and one we can hear and be reminded of these things again and again, particularly that famous verse in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”