In Acts, which contains the records of the first preached sermons proclaiming Jesus as the Christ (Messiah), there is an ongoing appeal to the history of Israel and to their God’s ongoing dealings with humanity and His creation through the vehicle of Israel, with this appeal offered in confirmation of Jesus’ messianic status. The New Testament letters make almost constant reference to Israel’s history, which is an eminently reasonable thing to do, for if one is proclaiming Jesus as Messiah, one must appeal to history, for it would be absolutely and completely impossible to understand the nature or role of the messiah apart from a thorough grounding in that history.
If Jesus is detached or removed from His thoroughly Jewish roots and from the thoroughly Jewish hopes within which He was operating and proclaimed Himself to be properly fulfilling, with this done without a concerted effort to come to terms with who He was and what He did for Israel, then He is removed and detached from all meaning, from all legitimacy, and from all relevance to those that believe in Him or to the world at large. If Jesus does not have that anchor, then He was just another itinerant preacher, who said some nice things and might have done some nice things, but in the end was crucified for challenging the existing power structures of His day.
If one does not understand the way in which Jesus first fulfilled the hope of Israel through His crucifixion and His Resurrection, and following that, understand what that meant for the wider world, for creation as a whole, and for the ongoing mission of those that believe in Him (as the church of Jesus Christ that proclaims a King and a kingdom) in the world that mirrors the mission of Israel, which mirrored the mission of Adam, then it does not matter one single bit if or why He was raised up from the grave. He might as well have just laid there in that lifeless condition, and the Creator God could have saved Himself all of the trouble of taking up the tent of human flesh and enduring the pains of humanity and mortality.
However, it is His attachment first to the providential and covenantal history of Israel, and secondly to the providential and covenantal history of the whole of the world (as it relates to the covenant God’s original intention for man and for His creation), that provides meaning for His life, His death, His life after death, and His presumed living through His church (life after life after death) that provides His chosen people with their hope of life after life after death. It is for that reason (among others) that every effort must be made to understand His words in the light of what had gone before, and in the way in which His hearers would have understood them. That is the purpose for this exercise in regards to His statements concerning the Creator God’s “one and only son.”
So, returning to this important conversation, when Jesus speaks of the one and only Son of God, Nicodemus is not only going to consider Jesus’ statement in the light of Adam, and he is not only going to consider Jesus’ statement in the light of Israel and the exodus, but he is also going to consider Jesus’ statement in the light of Solomon. Yes, Solomon, the son of David. Solomon, who is remembered as the great and wise and powerful king of Israel. Solomon, the type of king (owing to the scope of the territory of his kingdom, his riches, his fame, Israel’s great prosperity, the tribute paid to him by other nations, and the peace Israel enjoyed under his reign) that Israel truly wanted to see rise to power in Jesus’ day, as evidenced by the fact that the messiah is not referred to as a “king like David,” but rather, as the “son of David.”