A lot of conflict in these verses. You have family conflict with Jesus and his brothers with the brothers not believing Jesus and putting him to the test (vs.3ff). You have conflict with the crowd who was involved in considerable complaining about Jesus (vs.12). You have conflict with Jesus and the Pharisees as they tried to arrest him, but somehow no one put a hand on him (vs.44). There was an internal conflict within the Pharisees and their guards and their own Pharisees none of whom wanted to arrest him because he was speaking in such a way that no one had ever heard before (vs.47). This chapter leads us from Jesus who is the solidifying person for those who believe, to being a divisive factor among those who do not believe. There was much discussion about his qualifications and about his stature in light of the crowds who either wanted to worship him or arrest him. It is fairly clear that Jesus created much division among those who heard him. He was not someone whom everyone automatically loved and wanted to follow.
This is a fairly important point because we often think that if we lived in Jesus’ day then we would have been the perfect disciple. That simply is not the case. We may have been part of the crowd that complained about Jesus because in some way he was not meeting our needs. It is good for us to realize that discipleship is not a slam dunk. Meaning, being a follower of Jesus Christ will never be something that is easy or will never be something that those around us will approve or rally around. Our task, as Nicodemus shows us at the end of this chapter, is to lead people to Jesus in the way in which we feel empowered to do so. That may be with a quiet statement about his innocence, or about his power, or about the way in which he has impacted our lives. Once we do that, there is no guarantee that people will stand on our side. In fact, for Nicodemus at least and this might be true for us as well, we just might be ridiculed and ostracized. We need to be willing to pay that price.