Our connotation of sneaking isn’t positive. That’s something dishonest people do, people who are trying to hide something, people who are ashamed of what they are doing. That’s a lot of baggage that we bring to the first part of this passage.
Nicodemus comes under cover of darkness, to check Jesus out. Perhaps it makes him more anonymous, perhaps it provides him protection. Perhaps, it is not the end of the day that he comes, but the start of a new day, as time is counted in Judaism. Does that change how we hear this?
There’s a lot in this passage, and perhaps we need to read these together more often to connect the dots between “born again” and “God so loved the world.” The latter is the continued answer to Nicodemus’s unasked and asked questions. In some ways, Nicodemus is the student willing to ask the question no one else is – what do we hear in Jesus’s full answer?