Our vintage yard barrel came apart. With so many cracks and splits it finally just fell over. It was something we wanted to keep so out came the duct tape. We used strip after strip and finally had our barrel back—taped but still broken. I’ve noticed pieces of the tape beginning to peel at the corners and holes that weren’t there before, so I’m afraid its days are numbered no matter what we do. You can only patch something for so long before all you have are the patches, and even they fall apart.

From the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry He was in conflict with the religious leaders of his day. Both knew there was something wrong with mankind that needed to be fixed. Jesus offered new life, while the Pharisees wanted to fix the old with layer after layer of rituals, performances and works to cover up what was broken. Sin had entered the world and it severed man’s relationship with God. People didn’t know what to do—accept Jesus’ offer of a new life or continue to apply stop-gap measures to repair their old one.

A respected Pharisee came to talk to Jesus at night, wondering if this rabbi they had been watching might be the Messiah God had promised. But did he realize his relationship with God was broken? Was he aware that the “tape” he was promoting for others wasn’t holding his life together either? In his heart of hearts did he know that he wasn’t whole like God wanted him to be? He knew enough to come to Jesus. I could fill in the blanks with possible suggestions of why people’s lives are coming apart in today’s world, but I’m sure you have your own list. The bottom line is that many are trying to fix their problems by covering them with patches that don’t work while ignoring God’s offer of a new life.

When you ask people how things are going, the answers may range from “pretty good” to “it’s the pits”. Everyone has issues to deal with and even when things seem to be going well, there are times in the night when doubts arise. If asked what can be done to make things better, a smile and a shrug is often the response. “I know things should be better, but I don’t really know what to do. Maybe I’ll try church. Reading the Bible might help. I’ll try to live better. I’ll stop drinking, or doing drugs, or getting angry, or gossiping, or … (you fill in the blank).” There’s nothing wrong with these well-intentioned solutions, but they’re just duct tape. They won’t solve the problem. Underneath are still all the cracks and holes and, in the end, you won’t be able to stand before God.

Nicodemus was a religious man who tried to please God. Jesus told him that this wasn’t enough—“You must be born again.” Patching over our sin with whatever we choose isn’t enough; our lives must be made new. John 3 is the story of Nicodemus and verses 14-17 are the keys to a new life in Christ: Because God loves us He sent His son to pay sin’s penalty of death. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus offers a restored relationship with God. Mankind is broken and only Jesus can provide what is needed.

Second Corinthians 5:17 reminds us that “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation”. Patches won’t work. It’s time to get a new life, one you can only get through Jesus, who died for us.