John’s gospel can be seen, in many ways, as the ultimate evangelist text, with the intention as stated clearly by John, to make the reader believe that Jesus is the Christ, Son of God, and that in believing in Him you may have life in his name. From John’s perspective there are many occasions where he creates a “narrative” which provides a teaching point to the reader and he portrays a fascinating theme of light versus dark. This is most apparent, more so than any other, in John’s “narrative” in the “story” of Nicodemus.
Before one can delve into the natural progression of Nicodemus as a believer in Jesus Christ, Son of God, one must realize John’s intention in including Nicodemus in his gospel. He I not once seen in any other part of the bible which makes it unique and intriguing that he is more of an inclusion in John’s rather than an exclusion throughout the rest of the bible. Nicodemus’ character, when viewed from the narrator’s perspective, can be seen as a symbol of faith, as well as something any other wary believer can relate to when considering trusting and following in the Lord. John, the ultimate evangelist, seems to get his point across and is very convincing in doing so.
Nicodemus shows up three separate times throughout John’s Gospel. The first of these is in John chapter 3, the second time in chapter 7, and the third and final time in chapter 19. In each, John has a clear theme of light versus dark which is hinted at several times throughout. The main progression of Nicodemus, which is noticeable each time he appears, is his ability to come out of the darkness and into Jesus’ “light.” By interpreting this text through narrative criticism, one can see the story told through a U-shaped plot, where he starts in darkness but his encounters in light start a reversal in each appearance. The main conflict being what he should ultimately do, whether that is to come out of the safety and content of darkness and into the light and believe, or retreat back into the darkness. Many view the Nicodemus passages as a man who took favor in Jesus and believed, but when analyzed narratively, it can be seen that the progression as a character plays a major role from an afraid, skeptic, to finally an open and true believer. Through this narrative, I can be easy for the reader to reflect and relate to his or her self.
In John chapter 3, the first time the “main character” in this analysis, Nicodemus, is introduced he is clearly depicted as a prominent individual of Israel’s community: “Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, leader of Jews” (John 3:1). As a Pharisee, he was a member of the Sanhedrin, “an ancient Jewish court system and the supreme religious body in the Land of Israel during the time of the Holy Temple” (Schoenberg). He was well respected and even identified by Jesus himself, during their conversation, as “teacher of Israel.” In the beginning, it is stated that “he came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we...