If we assume the chronological order chosen by John, the author of the gospel of John, is relevant to our understanding, then, the chronological placement of today’s passage is a head scratcher. The reason, not much has happened up to this point. Jesus has been proclaimed and baptized by John the baptizer, he has chosen this disciples, saved wedding hosts from humiliation by creating the bast wedding wine ever, and now we have Nicodemus, a pharisee leader, coming to see Jesus after dark has settled in.
Whether it was due to a busy work day, or that he didn’t want to be seen, Nicodemus visited Jesus after dark. This is the first time, in John, that we see an interaction between Jesus and the Religious institution. Other than the pharisees’ brief questions addressed to John the baptizer, this is the first time we have see or heard anything from the religious leaders. There is one contextual point, however, that surely plays into this visit,
When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.
Did Nicodemus come to visit Jesus out of fear of the crowds that were watching Jesus, or did he come because he genuinely was seeking truth? We cannot really know his motivation for sure, however, there is no question that Jesus was very honest and blunt with him, as we witnessed in Jesus words,
“Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
Our passage is then a continuation of the discussion of these two men following the question Jesus poses.
Also, we have a reference to the bitting serpents from our Numbers passage, which is very significant.