Nicodemus – A Questionable Disciple

I had the privilege of preaching at my church last weekend. I preached on the story of Nicodemus from John’s Gospel. Nicodemus’ story challenges me to live a life of genuine discipleship.

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  • Wow, you put a lot of flourish into your voice when you’re preaching. Imploring people to take your side emotionally. But scholars have their doubts about the Nicodemus conversation found in the fourth Gospel, the one “at night,” when Jesus teaches all about the necessity of being “born again.” (Funny, he never mentioned that in Mark, Matthew or Luke. In Matthew we see Jesus being asked how to inherit eternal life and that obedience to the commandments, and loving God and others is most important. The sheep and goats are separated in the final judgment based on “their works,” and God forgives those who forgive others, and in the Sermon on the Mount that you have to do more than cry out to Jesus, you have to “do.”)

    Another reason scholars doubt the conversation in the fourth Gospel, chapter 3, is that it would have had to take place in Greek for Nicodemus to be confused as to whether Jesus was speaking about being born again, or born from above. But two Jews in Jerusalem speaking in Greek? Aramaic far more likely, and Aramaic does not have a word with the double-meaning of either “from above” or “again.” In fact there’s not just one but three puns in the discourse in chapter three. Jesus must have really liked puns, or more likely the discourse is the author’s work.

    Also, there’s doubt as to whether or not 3:16 is Jesus’ dialogue or a comment of the author’s. That’s because there are parts of the fourth Gospel where you can’t tell who is speaking.

    And what about Jesus’ manners when it comes to having a conversation? Rhetorically speaking, Nicodemus is being set up as a character who gets to ask short questions, and Jesus gets to pontificate and tell him how blind he is.