Understanding of scripture varies depending on the tone of voice we imagine in the speaker. The Rich Young Ruler, if he is irritable, challenging, asking Jesus what the technical minimum he has to do to be okay, then he's just a prick, and we rather hope that Jesus lets him have it. If, on the other hand, he asks humbly, a sincere and devout young man who genuinely wants to do what God asks of him, and goes in search of people like Jesus who might be able to tell him, then the entire scene is quite poignant, and we hope to meet him in heaven one day.
So too with Nicodemus, who may also be trying to find some technical minimum he can believe about Jesus without offending God, while keeping his previous life intact. The tone we hear in his voice matters greatly in how we interpret what is said. Paul in his epistles writes things that are arrogant if taken one way, humble if heard in another tone.
I suspect we don't notice what our assumptions are on these tones of voice, and how much they eventually influence our understanding of an entire passage or even parts of the faith as received. Try some different tones of voice on the words of the people Jesus speaks with.