Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 547
Context: The fact that John's Gospel does not conform to the other three in many respects has led some scholars to reject its historical accuracy; such students have considered it almost purely doctrinal and devotional in nature. The opinion of others is that Christ's ministry may have lasted three years or more; that He may well have preached in Jerusalem on numerous occasions, especially at feast times when large crowds were gathered there; that in the first three Gospels much has necessarily been omitted; and that John's Gospel supplements them by supplying the missing material. They point out that if the events described by John are added to those of the other Gospels, the picture of Jesus as a real threat to the religious and political establishment of His time becomes far more significant. It is true that John, more than the other writers of Gospel, comments on the discourses of Jesus; clearly he was interpreting them for members of the early Church. In Chapter 3 John recounts the story of Nicodemus, a Jewish ruler and representative of the Pharisees, who approaches Jesus in a patronizing manner and questions Him. Jesus has been very much a thorn in the side of the Pharisees; He confounds their arguments, and whenever they try to accuse Him of breaking a law He turns their own accusations upon them. Not only does He have an answer for everything; He frequently leaves them with nothing whatever to say. They hate Him, but at the same time they fear Him. He is clearly a serious threat to their personal and institutional security. It may be that Nicodemus, as representative of the Pharisees, is trying to make some sort of deal with Jesus. Jesus' reply is patient but firm and uncompromising: He is obviously not to be bought if that is His questioner's intent. Nicodemus' incredulity earns him a more pointed rebuke: he calls himself a teacher but he is unwilling to learn.
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
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