Monday, February 9, 2009
Jesus' Ministry Was Approximately One Year, Not Three.
Jesus came to Nazareth, went into the synagogue and stood up to read. He found the place where it was written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He did anoint me to proclaim the Acceptable Year of the Lord. This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."
Tradition teaches that the records in the gospels cover a period of three and a half years from his baptism to his crucifixion , resurrection and ascension. This is primarily based on the number of passover feasts mentioned and writings after the 4th century. Once tradition creeps in and is taught as truth, efforts are made to actually change what is written to correspond with tradition.
Matt 15: 2
...Why do you transgress the word of God with your tradition?
That is what happened primarily in the book of John that has kept this myth from being uncovered. Mistranslations and misinterpretations are usually at the root in teaching error.
In Matthew and Mark there is only mention of the Passover during the crucifixion. In Luke there is a Passover mentioned when he is twelve and the one at his crucifixion. According to these gospels the events between his baptism and the crucifixion there was only one Passover mentioned making it a period less than two years and certainly not three. In John there is more detail given regarding the Judean Feasts which help us in determining a period of time. God's word always provides checks and balances for those who want to know the truth rather than rely on tradition.
And the Jews Passover was at hand and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
This is the first Passover mentioned in John. Jesus went to Jerusalem because The Passover was one of three feasts where all males were required to attend according to Mosaic Law. This Passover would've occurred in April and Jesus did as required by law and went to Jerusalem where the feast was held.*
After this there was a feast of the Jews and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
"After this" indicates a notation of time. After the Passover and events preceding this verse there came another feast and Jesus went to Jerusalem to attend. The second required feast to attend would've been the Feast of Weeks** or Pentecost as we know today. This occurred 50 days after Passover and was a celebration of the first fruits of harvest. The time now would've been the end of May and the first of June of the same year. This was not a Passover feast a year later for it would've said specifically "Passover".
John 6: 1-4
After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee....and Jesus went up into a mountain...and the passover, a feast of the Jews was near.
I believe John is trying to establish a chronological order by referring to 'after these things'. Jesus did not go to Jerusalem but was in Galilee and in the mountain. A Jewish feast that would've occurred next in chronological order without requiring males to be there would've been the Memorial of the Blowing of the Trumpets which took place on 20-21 of September. Had this been a Passover Jesus would've gone to Jerusalem. Secondly there's no indication that that a year had passed. Quite the opposite, the events would indicate a brief period of time had passed. So why is 'passover' here in the King James?
It is an error in translation. A few Greek manuscripts omit John 6:4 entirely. Later, this crept into writings of church fathers from 4th century and became traditionally added by the scribes in later manuscripts. The result was adding a year to Christ's ministry. *** If we use God's checks and balances then the omission that Jesus went to Jerusalem would eliminate this being a Passover Feast. Assuming that John does mention a feast in this verse and is chronologically narrating the miraculous ministry of Jesus Christ, then the Blowing of the Trumpets fits and flows harmoniously.*4
John 7:1-2; 8-10
After these things the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near. Jesus told his disciples," You go up to the feast (Jerusalem) without me and I will meet you there." When his brethren were gone up then he also followed (to Jerusalem) to the feast, not openly but in secret.
This is now the third feast mentioned in John that required attendance and in order of occurrence. The Feast of Tabernacles was a seven day event celebrating the final harvest and would've taken place in early October of that same year.*5 Jesus and his disciples attended even though his life was now under threat.
And it was at Jerusalem, the Feast of the Dedication, and it was winter.
Again, John pointing out place and time, remaining in chronological order. Winter would be accurate as this feast occurred in late December.*6
And the Jews Passover was near and many came out of the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves.
This is the last (2nd) and final Passover that would appear in John and occurred during the week of Jesus Christ's crucifixion.
From Passover to Passover is one year. Jesus was baptized (John 1:26-33) before the first recorded Passover in John 2 and was on earth 40 days after his resurrection according to Acts 1:3. This would make a period of time a little over one year. However, his actual ministry did not begin at his baptism nor end at his ascension. There is a remarkable verse in God's word that has been mainly quoted and viewed as defining what his ministry was. This has overshadowed the length of time of his ministry and when it started.
And he came to Nazareth where he had been brought up. And as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day and stood up to read. And there was delivered unto him the scroll of Isaiah. And when he had opened the scroll he found the place where it was written: The spirit of the Lord (Jehovah) is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering sight to the blind. To set at liberty them that are bruised. To Preach The Acceptable Year Of The Lord. And he closed the scroll and he gave it back to the priest and sat down and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."
The acceptable year of the Lord! This day is this scripture fulfilled. The work of God and his son Jesus Christ sent to fulfill this scripture is called the 'acceptable year'. When Jesus announced this in the synagogue it was shortly before or after the feast of weeks, the day of Pentecost, mentioned in John 5 and after John the Baptist was imprisoned.
Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee...leaving Nazareth (where he announced his ministry) ...from that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Now after John was put in prison , Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, saying "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel."
Before it was John who preached the coming of the kingdom of God was near. Now that John was imprisoned Jesus preached the kingdom of God was at hand. For John had stated that " He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). Jesus began his ministry of preaching and healing and proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord around the Day of Pentecost. When did the kingdom of God come and become available as he promised. On the Day of Pentecost the following year. How marvelous. From Pentecost when Jesus officially began his ministry to Pentecost when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit came, making available being born from above and entering the kingdom of God, was exactly one year. The acceptable year of the Lord. We are never told again to look for or seek the kingdom of God for it was near and came as promised on the Day of Pentecost because of what God had accomplished through Jesus Christ. His preaching, healing, and also most importantly, his sacrifice as the lamb of God for the sins of the world. Our salvation and eternal life was made available through the crucifixion and resurrection, his ascension and the final fulfillment of the coming of the kingdom of God.
Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.
The sacrificial lamb at the passover feast had to be a male lamb of the 'First Year'. Jesus Christ, the sacrificial lamb of God was of the first year of his public ministry.
And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age...*
The acceptable year of the Lord and the Lamb of the first year. How miraculous a year it was. It changed the world forever. It was one year and not three. He died at 30 and not 33. "Because they do error, not knowing the scriptures, teaching for the word of God the traditions of men" Matt 15:2
Maybe it's just to hard to fathom all this happening in such a short period of time as John so eloquently wrote...
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. John 21:25
* Deut 16:16; Lev 4:4-14
** Lev 4:15-22
*** Early church fathers calculated Christ's earthly ministry as one year such as Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, Book 1, Chapter 21. Clement mentioned Basilides who also taught one year. Clement wrote toward the end of the second century. The second century school of Valentinus also taught that Jesus preached for one year according to Iranaeus , Againts Hereisies, Book 2, Capter 22. The ealiest extant writing that promoted the current tradition of three years comes from the 4th century. Wescott and Hort , Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek ( new York: Harrper and Brothers, 1882) Appendix,p. 80
*4 Lev 23:24
*5 Lev 23:33-44
*6 This is not a feast of Mosaic law but originated during the 2nd century BC. This is a celebration of their revolt from captivity and cleansing of the temple in 164 BC December.
*7 About 30 would've made him 29 and an acceptable age for beginning public ministry according to Jewish reckoning, which accepts one year old as the age from time of birth until turning two, which is one year old according to our reckoning age.
I gratefully acknowledge and highly recommend "The Acceptable Year of the Lord " The Life and Earthly Ministry of Jesus Christ by Walter J. Cummins. To whom I owe a debt of gratitude of greater understanding and appreciation for the Bible.