We do know that in the scriptures, the year (and day) of Christ's conception and birth is not terribly clear. Early tradition stated it was in the 3rd year of the 194th Olympiad (i.e. between July 2 BC and June 1 BC). Note, there is no year zero.
In one of the few scriptures referring to it, Luke 3:1, John the Baptist commenced his ministry in the 15th year of the Roman Emperor Tiberius's reign. In historical records - click here - Tiberius's 1st year had commenced on
Three of the gospels record that Jesus's baptism was followed by 40 days in the wilderness.
The four gospels then record about one year of ministry — the acceptable year of the Lord Luke 4:19 — mostly covering Jesus work in the Galilee (Kinnereth) region in 30 AD. Map on right.
Click here for a map in Jesus's day, including Cana and Nazareth, Jesus's home town where he grew up. Click here for a modern photo of the Sea, taken in the west looking towards the east at its southern end. The sea is actually a freshwater lake, 53 kilometres in perimeter and 210 metres below sea level, very low.
Note, the first three gospels tend to move around at times, reflecting the theme involved in each specific passage. John, in contrast, the writer of the fourth gospel, sets out a consecutive chronology of events.
After the first disciples visit him in Nazareth
One year of ministry for Jesus (not three) was the general understanding of the early church fathers, as seen in the writings of
Events between Passovers
Below is a possible sequence of events between the passover in Jerusalem 30AD, and the second passover a month later
|April 2nd||Passover Eve (14th Day of Moon) in Jerusalem. |
|April 3rd-4th||Spends some extra days in Judaea with his disciples who were baptizing converts. At this time John the Baptist had not yet been arrested, but it happened shortly |
|April 5th-6th||Two days in Samaria. |
|April 7th||Cana and miracle of nobleman's son. |
|April 8th||Sabbath Day. Capernaum. Preaches in the synagogue and casts out an evil spirit from one of the congregation. Later at Peter's house, heals Peter's mother-in-law. Huge numbers gather, and there are many healings and deliverances. |
|During the next two weeks||Jesus travels through Galilee region. Next, back in Capernaum, Jesus heals a paralytic man let down through the roof of a crowded house. Calls Levi (Matthew) a tax collector to be his disciple. Matthew invites many of his associates over. Mark 2, |
|April 15th||Second Sabbath following the Passover and issue of disciples plucking corn. |
|April 22nd||Heals the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath Day. The Scribes and Pharisees declare this to be "working on the Sabbath", and their anger increases. But the people press to touch him and it is followed that day by Jesus preaching from Peter's boat to avoid their crush. After the miracle of the fish catch, the call to Peter and Andrew James and John that they would be made evangelists from then on. |
|April 23rd||Spends night in prayer. Appoints the 12 disciples. Huge crowd gathers at the mountain. Sermon on the Mount (mostly to just these disciples). Declared to be mad by his friends, working with the devil by the Pharisees, and his worried family come to see him at the house he is in. Next, a centurion requests healing for his servant. |
|April 24th||Following day, with many disciples and others, raises widow's son at Nain, outside Nazareth. |
|Goes to Jerusalem for a feast perhaps in regard to this coming passover. John 5|
|At this time||While he is healing many people, John sends two disciples from his prison to ask Jesus if he is the one. |
|April 29th||Now in Jerusalem. Sabbath. Heals lame man at pool at Bethesda. John 5|
|May 1st||Second Passover Eve is at hand. Jesus back in Galilee hears that John has been executed. Jesus's disciples also return to him with much excitement. Takes a ship to a remote spot near Bethsaida. That evening he feeds the 5000 who have followed him. That night in the boat, the miracle of Jesus walking on the water. The following day he preaches the message to all the crowd who have followed him in their boats, of being the Bread of Life. The parable is too hard for the people, and many of the crowd now leave him. John 6, Matthew 14, |
Then finally, we have those events leading up to the crucifixion and his resurrection on Sunday March 25th in 31 AD.
Earliest records show that Jesus entered Jerusalem to huge acclaim the previous Sunday, March 18th. Traditionally, he entered via the Golden Gate (a gate currently walled up) in the eastern part of the city. The Jews sought to have him killed but were unable, due to the crowds everywhere see Luke 19:47. It was the day for the selection of a sacrificial passover lamb, the 10th day in the month of Nisan in the Jewish calendar see Exodus 12:3. The following Wednesday, two days before Passover Friday, as the priests and scribes met to plot his death, Judas who hypocritically had been indignant over Mary's anointing of Jesus the previous Saturday, March 17th, reveals his true side, meeting with them to betray Jesus in exchange for payment
John incidentally reveals Judas's father Simon John 12:4 to be the leper Simon Matthew 26:6, owner of the house in Bethany where the anointing occurred and the receiver of a humbling object lesson from the Lord in Luke 7:36. So, both were proud, cold and cranky, like son, like father.
And now, it was Thursday, March 22nd, the 14th day of the Jewish month, and the day a passover lamb was due to be killed see Numbers 28:16, Luke 22:7. Following the passover meal Thursday evening, Jesus was betrayed and then on the Friday crucified — cut off from humanity for the sins of all. It was now the 15th day of the Jewish month, the first day of seven of the feast of unleavened bread see Numbers 28:17.
Jesus was laid in a tomb prior to Saturday, then resurrected early on Sunday morning, March 25th, now the third day in that passover week.
As he had prophesied
Although historic calculations today indicate the full moon fell on the 26th or 27th March in 31AD, truly only the Father knows what happened to the moon that month. Christ's crucifixion is the centre point of space and time. In
But regardless, what we do have evidence of are the declarations by early Church historians (Alexander of Jerusalem (c. 218 AD), Julius Africanus (c. 221 AD), Bede (673-735 AD) and others) who declared Jesus was crucified on Friday March 23rd and rose from the dead on Sunday March 25th. And surely, from the early records, they would have known.
Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after his resurrection, which is Thursday May 3rd. Pentecost followed ten days later on Sunday May 13th, 31 AD.
And from Christmas week at the beginning of 30 AD (on Friday Dec 30 to be precise) to Thursday May 3rd in 31 AD is exactly 70 weeks, another reflection of God's perfect timing.
In terms of his birth, as there was never a starting year called Zero AD, Jesus's first year occurred in what we now call 1 BC (when he was in Egypt). And according to early tradition, Jesus was circumcized — his foreskin cut — and given his name on Friday January 1st 1 BC, born Friday December 25th 2 BC and conceived by the Holy Spirit Wednesday March 25th 2 BC.
If so, then John the Baptist, who was 5 - 6 months older see Luke 1:36, would have been conceived in September/October 3 BC, the same month as the
Though there is no scripture to confirm a Friday December 25th birthday - called "day of Venus" in Latin and "Venerdi" in Italian, it was certainly recorded in early writings - e.g. the consul lists of Philocalus of 354 AD, with 2 BC matching that date with the correct day of the week. Click here to view further references from the earliest times. And we also know, from Luke 1:15, John, the forerunner of Christ, was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb.
Luke 16:16 "The Law and the Prophets were until John; from then the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is pressing into it".
Matthew 12:28 "If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you".
Click here for more background on the change from BC to AD, formally implemented by Dionysius, using scholarly Easter data obtained from church councils in Alexandria in Egypt. And click here for an account of the death of King Herod, almost certainly in 1 BC, or 1 AD at the latest.
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