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How Old Was Jesus When He Started His Ministry?

We only know a little about Jesus’s earthly life before his ministry. Scripture doesn’t mention his early life except for his birth, plus when he was 12 years old, he stayed in Jerusalem after Passover instead of going home with his family. Even the age he started his ministry is vague. Scripture tells us he “was around 30 years of age.”  Here are some thoughts about Jesus and his ministry on earth. 

What age did Jesus begin his ministry?

Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli,...(Luke 3:23 ESV)

Around the age of 30, we know Jesus started his ministry. By this time, we know he was a carpenter. Carpenters at that time were poor common laborers. We aren’t sure what happened to his earthly father, Joseph. But at the beginning of his ministry, we read in John 1:1-11, his mother, Mary, was with him at a wedding in Cana. There is no mention of his father being at the wedding. Scripture says at the wedding, Jesus revealed his glory for the first time by turning water into wine. 

 How long was Jesus’ ministry?

Jesus’ ministry on earth lasted until his death, approximately three years after he started his ministry. Of course, his ministry continues because of his resurrection from the dead. He lives today interceding for those who have put their faith and trust in him.

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34 ESV)

What was the main purpose of Jesus’ ministry?

And he went throughout all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. (Matthew 4:23-24 ESV)

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. (Matthew 9:35 ESV)

Here are a few purposes of Jesus’ ministry

  • To do the will of God the Father- For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. (John 6:38 ESV)
  • To save the lost- The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15 ESV)
  • To declare truth- Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose , I was born, and for this purpose, I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” John 18:37 ESV)
  • To bring light- I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. ( John 12:46 ESV)
  • To give everlasting life- And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. ( 1 John 5:11 ESV)
  • To give up his life for us- For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45 ESV)
  • To save sinners– For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.(John 3:16-17 ESV)

Who was involved in Jesus’ ministry?

Scripture tells us that Jesus traveled around the country proclaiming the kingdom of God. He wasn’t alone in his travels. A group of men and women were devoted to him and helped him in his ministry. This group included:

  • The twelve disciples- Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew/Nathanael, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas the Greater, and Judas Iscariot
  • Women- Mary Magdalene, Joana, Susanna, Salome, his mother, Mary. Some theologians suggest that the disciples’ wives were also involved with Jesus’ ministry traveling with the group. 
  • Others- We aren’t sure who these people were, but as Jesus’ time drew towards his death, many of these followers fell away. 

What did these people do to support Jesus’ ministry?

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means. (Luke 8:1-3 ESV)

Certainly, some individuals who traveled with Jesus were praying, healing the sick, and preaching the gospel alongside him. But Scripture says that a group of women who followed him provided out of their means. These women may have provided food or clothing and money for his ministry. Although we read that one of the disciples, Judas, who later betrayed Jesus, was in charge of the money bag. 

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”  He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. (John 12:4-6 ESV)

Why was Jesus’ ministry so short?

Jesus’ earthly ministry was a short three and half years which is extremely brief compared to some well-known preachers and teachers. Of course, God isn’t limited by time, the way we are, and Jesus was no different. His three-year ministry accomplished everything he set out to do, which was

  • To say what God told him to say-For, I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. (John 12:49 ESV)
  • To do the Father’s will- Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34 ESV)
  • To lay down his life for sinners-No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father. (John 10:18 ESV)
  • To glorify God and do his work-I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.(John 17:4 ESV)
  • To complete everything given to him- After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” (John 19:28 ESV)
  • To finish-When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30 ESV)

Jesus’ ministry didn’t need to be longer, because he finished everything he was supposed to in three and half years. 

How old was Jesus when He died?

Hippolytus of Rome, an important 2nd and 3rd-century Christian theologian. He dates Jesus’s crucifixion at 33 years of age on Friday, March 25th. This was during Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus’s 18th-year reign  He was the second Roman emperor. He reigned AD 14-37. Tiberius was the most powerful man during the ministry of Jesus. 

Historically, several supernatural events occurred during the death and resurrection of Jesus

Three hours of darkness

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour...(Luke 23:44 ESV)

A Greek historian, Phlegon, wrote about an eclipse in AD33. He said,

In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad (i.e., AD 33), there was ‘the greatest eclipse of the sun’ and that it became night in the sixth hour of the day [i.e., noon] so that stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicaea.

Earthquake and rocks split open

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. (Matthew 27:51 ESV) 

It’s reported that there was a 6.3 magnitude earthquake during the period of 26-36 AD. Earthquakes in this region were common, but this was an earthquake that occurred at the death of Christ. It was a divine event of God. 

Tombs opened

The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised,  and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:52-53 ESV)

Have you put your trust in Jesus?

Jesus spoke clearly about who he was. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins. (John 8:24 ESV)

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3 ESV)

Putting your trust in Jesus means you believe his claims about himself. It means you acknowledge you’ve ignored God’s laws and lived life on your own terms. This is called sin. As a sinner, you acknowledge you need God. It means you are willing to turn your life over to him. It’d be to dedicate your life to him. 

How can you become a follower of Christ?

  • Confess your need of him-If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)   
  • Seek and believe that he died for your sins- And without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 ESV)
  • Thank him for saving you-But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, (John 1:12 ESV)

Jesus was an actual historical figure. His life, death, and resurrection are recorded by many historians and theologians. 

Prayer: If you want to trust Jesus with your life, you can simply pray and ask him. 

Dear Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God and Savior of the world. I know I haven’t lived up to God’s standards. I’ve tried to live life on my own terms. I confess this as sin and ask you to forgive me. I give you my life. I want to trust you with all my life. Thank you for calling me your child. Thank you for saving me. 

Although we know little about Jesus’ early life, we know that he began his ministry around 30 years of age. He had many followers and disciples. Some of his followers were women, which was culturally unheard of then. Many people followed him early on, but as it grew closer to the time of his death, many fell away. 

His ministry was extremely short, a mere three and half years by earthly standards. But according to Jesus, he accomplished everything that God wanted him to do. Jesus is clear about who he is. Scripture tells us that we haven’t fallen short and need a savior to help us have a relationship with God. Jesus claims to be the bridge between God and us. We must decide if we believe Jesus’ claims and want to follow him. He promises that all who call on him will be saved.

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