As John continues his teachings that Jesus is greater than the symbols of the Jewish culture (yesterday it was Ritual Cleansing and the Temple), today he takes on the Pharisees. But when John takes on the Pharisees, he doesn’t do it the way we usually see it, with Jesus attacking them as His enemies. Instead, we find a Pharisee coming to Jesus for help. Rather than trying to trap Jesus in His own words, Nicodemus tries to understand what Jesus is teaching.
Granted he came at night, probably out of fear his counterparts, but he comes with a legitimate desire to learn. And in the midst of this exchange between Jesus and a Pharisee, we get one of the ultimate explanations of the Christian faith, “for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” This statement of faith has defined the Christian faith for centuries.
But equally important is the next phrase, one that is much less well known, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” As “born again” Christians, another catchy phrase that comes from this exchange, we proclaim these truths of God’s love to everyone in every way.
And so John shows Jesus as wiser, smarter, and more able to teach than the very Pharisees who proclaim themselves the best at all three.