Take my yoke upon you and learn of me.
This timeline traces Jesus’ 3-1/2 year public ministry chronologically, starting when he was about 30 years old. Details in the four gospels have been combined into a single document enabling the reader to follow Jesus’ footsteps sequentially.
It is based on Jesus’ birth year being 4 BC, his Public Ministry taking place from 26 to 30 AD through his ascension. Some dating systems use the birth year of 6 BC and Public Ministry from 29 to 33 AD. Readers preferring a 33 AD crucifixion date will need to add three years to the years given herein.
Calendar. The Jewish year followed a solar-lunar calendar that went from one equinox to the next. The days began and ended at sunset and months began on each new moon. Their first month corresponded roughly to our Gregorian calendar period March 15–April 15.
John the Baptist began preaching and baptizing “in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar”(26 AD).WhenJesus was about 30 years old, he was baptized and began preaching (Lu 3:23). John and Jesus were cousins born about three months apart, around 4 BC.
The 3-1/2 year duration of Jesus’ Public Ministry is calculated using the four annual Passovers in John’s gospel that he attended from 27 AD through 30 AD (counting the unidentified feast of John 5:1 as Passover), plus the partial year from his baptism to first Passover, 27 AD.
Jesus was a Jew—his natural parents were Jewish; therefore, he was born and raised under the Old Covenant Mosaic Law. Jesus was the only person who ever lived and kept God’s law perfectly. Therefore, in obedience to the law, he and his disciples would have traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem to attend all the required Feasts, even though the Bible may not have recorded it. This timeline indicates recorded and unrecorded Feasts when attendance was mandatory.
God instituted several annual Jewish feasts (also called “festivals”). Attendance at the Temple in Jerusalem was required by all healthy Jewish males for three of these (Dt 16:16). Families, kinfolks and acquaintances often traveled together in caravans on these annual pilgrimages.
The highest holy day, Passover, was immediately followed with the Feast of Unleavened Bread/Harvest and First Fruits. They occurredon Nisan 14-21 for eight days (as set out in Moses’ Law). The term Passover included the two following feasts, commemorating the Israelite’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage.
Listed below are the annual feasts/festivals during the Temple period; Jewish men’s attendance was required in Jerusalem for three of them:
Four Spring Feasts ~ Nisan (March-April)Ex 12:1-28; Lev 23:4-14(1) Passover (Pesach) ~ Nisan 14 (required)(2) Unleavened Bread/Harvest (Hag Hamatzot) ~ Nisan 15-20
(3) First Fruits (Yom HaBikkurim) ~ Nisan 16
(4) Pentecost/Weeks/Harvest (Shavuot) ~ Sivan 6 &7 (May; 50 days after Passover)(required)
Three Fall Feasts ~ Tishri(Sep or Oct)Lev 23:23-44
(1) Feast of Trumpets (Rosh HaShanah) (Jewish Civil New Year) ~ Tishri 1 (celebrated independently)(2) Day of Atonement (Yom Kipper) ~ Tishri 10 (held in synagogues and Temple)
(3) Feast of Tabernacles/Booths/Ingathering (Sukkot) ~ Tishri 15-21 (required)
God’s timetable for the Feasts took into consideration the Jews’ planting and harvesting seasons (Ex 23:14-17). The fall feast, Sukkot, was the last God-ordained festival each year on which all adult Jewish males were required to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to appear before the Lord (Lev 23:33-43).
Some believe Jesus was born on the High Holy Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur, Tishri 10, Sep or Oct—rather than on December 25). This would be fitting, as he became the Passover lamb on the Day of Passover and the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles shortly thereafter on the Day of Pentecost/Feast of Weeks.
Passover dates in the Gregorian calendar:
March 9, 27 AD
March 28, 28 AD
March 16, 29 AD
April 4, 30 AD
Passover Instituted/Instructions: Ex. 12:1-11; Lev 23:5. The Feast of Passover is mentioned more than any other feast in Israel (over 50 in OT and 27 in NT). It is the most important Jewish festival of their religious calendar.
Sabbatical Year: A one-year period observed by Jews every seven years, when the fields were left untilled, and all agricultural labors were suspended (Lev 25).
Year of Jubilee: A year in which both the land and the people rested. Defined in Lev 25:9 as the sabbatical year after seven cycles of seven years (49 years). The 50th year was to be a time of celebration and rejoicing for the Israelites. It involved a release from indebtedness (Leviticus 25:23-38) and all types of bondage (vv. 39-55). Prisoners and captives were set free, slaves were released, debts were forgiven, and property was returned to its original owners; labor ceased for one year.
Roman Rulers Over Israel: Herod the Great (ruled 37 to 4 BC), was ruler when Jesus was born (he killed the babies in Bethlehem). From 4 BC to 39 AD, Herod Antipas was the territorial ruler of both Galilee and Perea (the eastern narrow strip of land beyond the Jordan River).His palace and capital were located in Sepphoris, “the jewel of the Galilee” (Jesus called him “that fox;” he beheaded John the Baptist). His brother, Herod Archelaus, who ruled over Samaria, Idumaea and Judea (including Jerusalem) from 4 BC to 6 AD, barely ten years, was succeeded by various Roman governors, including Pilate. Their half-brother, Tetrarch Philip (sometimes called Herod Philip II) was ruler from 4 BC to 34 AD over Gaulanitis, Trachonitis, Paneas, Batanea, Trachonitis, Auranitis, etc. Caesarea Philippi was his capital. Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea and Samaria from 26 to 36 AD, serving under Roman Emperor Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus.
Jewish Religious Leaders: In Jesus’ day, the supreme religious council was the 70-member Sanhedrin, made up of priests, Pharisees, Sadduccees, scribes and elders, presided by the High Priest, Caiphas.
Synagogues: It is believed that synagogues (Greek meeting place) began during the Jewish exile. Each synagogue contained sacred scrolls of the law. Governed by a committee of elders, the people gathered there on the Sabbath (Saturday) and feast days. The service began with the shema, a reading from a passage in the scroll/law, followed by a sermon of explanation. The entire law was read over a three-year period. Jesus frequently taught in the synagogues.
Chronology of Jesus’ Public Ministry
I. When Jesus was about 30 (Luke 3:1) ~ a Sabbatical Year
Possibly Fall 26 AD to Passover No. 1, Nisan 14, 27 AD
Judea. He was baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. A heavenly voice said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” His baptism inaugurated Jesus’ public ministry (Mt 3:13-17; Mk 1:9-11). Immediately, Jesus was tempted by Satan in the Wilderness for 40 days.
Victorious, he returned to John at Bethabara who identified him as the “Lamb of God” and “Son of God.” Hearing this, three disciples of John the Baptist began following Jesus (Andrew, John, Peter), followed by Philip and Nathanael soon after.
Galilee. After two days, Jesus, and at least three of his followers, returned to their homes in Galilee. They all attended a wedding in Cana where Jesus turned water into wine, his first recorded miracle. Afterwards, they visited Capernaum for “not many days.”
Initially, some disciples believed Jesus was the Messiah. Some who would later accompany him full-time, returned to their homes and occupations. Possibly, they joined Jesus intermittently as he traveled around and taught in Galilee.
II. First Year of Jesus’ Public Ministry ~ also Jubilee and Leap Year
Passover No. 1, Nisan 14,27 AD to Passover No. 2, Nisan 14, 28 AD
Judea. During the first year of his public ministry, Jesus arrived in Jerusalem for the Passover (March 9) and Feast of Unleavened Bread, held on Nisan 14-21, 27 AD (no disciples mentioned, John 2:13, 23). He began his ministry by cleansing the Temple; drove out the money changers; overturned tables, chased out their animals; performed many miracles. Nicodemus came to him at night.
After the Feast Days, Jesus and some disciples left Jerusalem but tarried in Judea for awhile(Jn 3:22),perhaps through the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost.Jesus’ ministry eclipsed that of John the Baptist’s; “He must increase—I must decrease”; Jesus’ disciples baptized. Herod imprisoned John the Baptist in Malchaerus, Perea.
Samaria. Jesus with some disciples left Judea. En route to Galilee, theystopped at Sychar andvisited with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well; revealing to her he was Messiah (Jn 4:26). After his baptism, Jesus briefly traveled all over Israel—Galilee, Samaria, Judea and Jerusalem.
Jesus began his Galilean Ministry
For approximately the next two years (part of 27, all of 28 and part of 29 AD),Jesus lived and ministered in and around Capernaum. He remained almost exclusively in Galilee, the northern part of Israel, also the most heavily populated area. During this time, the only recorded times he left Galilee was to attend Passover and other Jewish Feasts in Jerusalem.
Galilee (population est. 2–3 million people) is a small region approximately 50 miles N-S by 20 miles E-W that contains Israel’s largest freshwater lake, the Sea of Galilee. It was home to at least 240 villages and cities, most being crowded around the lake on the north and northwest sides. Each village had at least one synagogue, usually with an attached school for Jewish children. Capernaum was on the Via Maris, the main trade route connecting Damascus in the north and Egypt in the south. Thus, travelers, traders and caravans passed through Capernaum from all over the world. Jesus was raised in Nazareth, about three miles southeast of Sepphoris, the location of Herod Antipas’ palace and capital.
Perea. The eastern “land beyond Jordan” (River) was the narrow strip of land called Perea (a term not used in Bible). From 4 BC to 39 AD, Herod Antipas was the territorial ruler of both Galilee and Perea; his brother, Herod Archelaus, ruled over Samaria, Idumaea and Judea, including Jerusalem from 4 BC to 6 AD, succeeded by various Roman governors. Pilate was governor of Judea and Samaria from 26 to 36 AD, serving under Emperor Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus.
Jesus (perhaps unaccompanied) …
27 AD. Jesus (although it is not recorded) most likely journeyed to Jerusalem and attended the Spring Feast of Weeks/Harvest/Pentecost (Shavuot) on Sivan 6 &7 (about 50 days after Passover); and the late Summer Feast of Tabernacles/Booths (Sukkot) on Tishri 15-21 (early Sep.). All healthy adult Jewish males were required to observe both.
Left Judea and returned to Galilee; in Cana, he healed a nobleman’s dying son. His miraculous works performed in Capernaum caused his fame to reach hometown Nazareth.
“As was his custom” Jesus went to the Nazareth synagogue where he read Isaiah 61:1-2. The audience was amazed when he announced, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” and stated that he was “preaching the acceptable year of the Lord,” a term that referred to Jubilee year (Lev 25:10-13). Every 50 years was Jubilee, the year when debts were forgiven, lands restored to their original owners, Jewish servants liberated, and the land rested (was not cultivated) for the whole year. Many theologians believe Jesus spoke this message on the holiest day of the year for Jews, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kipper) Tishri 10 (late Summer), which coincided with the announcement of Jubilee.
When Jesus refused to do miracles at the Nazareth synagogue, his listeners were enraged, rejected him and attempted to throw him over a cliff (his first recorded sermon, first rejection and first attempt on his life (Lu 4:16-30).
Capernaum. Jesus then moved his headquarters to nearby Capernaum, where he taught and healed a demoniac in their synagogue. Perhaps after Peter, James, John and Andrew followed Jesus’ instructions and caught a miraculous draught of fish, Jesus called them to follow him full-time and become “fishers of men” (Lu 5:1-11); healed Peter’s mother-in-law and many others.
Jesus and his first four full-time disciples …
First Tour of Galilee. Began their first tour away from Capernaum in the synagogues throughout Galilee, “preaching the gospel of the kingdom;” great multitudes followed from surrounding areas. Jesus healed sickness, disease, cast out devils(Mt 4:23-25); healed a leper, a man with palsy. Returned to Capernaum; healed a paralytic lowered through the roof of Peter’s house; taught crowds by Sea of Galilee. Called Matthew (aka Levi), a tax collector to be his fifth full-time disciple; Matthew held a great feast in his home for Jesus, his disciples, publicans and sinners; Scribes and Pharisees murmured (Mt 9:9-13; Mk 2:13-16).
Possibly attended the Feast of Dedication/Hanukkah in Jerusalem; a manmade commemoration festival (Kislev 25-Tevet 2; Nov. 27 AD).
III. Second Year of Jesus’ Public Ministry
Passover No. 2, Nisan 14, 28 AD to Passover No. 3, Nisan 14, 29 AD
Jesus and his five disciples…
Attended an unidentified Jewish Feast in Jerusalem (Jn 5:1). Many theologians favor this as being Jesus’ second Passover/Unleavened Bread on Nisan 14 (March 27), 28 AD. Passover immediately precedes the harvest of barley and corn, which is about 30 days long. This placed the disciples plucking and eating corn in the following month, Lyyar (Lu 6:1), near the end of the corn harvest. This goes to confirm the feast they attended was Passover.
Jesus and his disciples (although not recorded) most likely journeyed to Jerusalem to attend the spring Feast of Weeks/Harvest/Pentecost (Shavuot) on Sivan 6-7 (about 50 days after Passover); and the fall Feast of Tabernacles/Booths (Sukkot) on Tishri 15-21 (late Sep.); all healthy adult Jewish males were required to observe both.
Escalating Opposition against Jesus
Sabbath Controversies. As Jesus’ ministry continued, opposition and rejection increased. He was accused of breaking the Sabbath three times by the Pharisees, Herodians, scribes and Jews for (1) healing a lame man at Bethesda Pool; (2) healing a man’s withered hand; (3) his disciples plucking and eating field corn. Jesus replied, “Sabbath was made for man—not man for the Sabbath; Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27).
Conspired to kill. “The Jews sought the more to kill him … [for saying] that God was his Father, making himself equal with God” (Jn 5:18); enraged, the Pharisees, scribes and Herodians plotted to destroy Jesus (Mk 3:6, Luke 6:11). With opposition at its peak, Jesus and the twelve returned to Capernaum, where multitudes flocked to Jesus and were healed by the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus chose his twelve full-time disciples; began training them
Selection of the twelve. Alone, Jesus climbed a mountain and prayed all night. The next morning, “he called unto him his disciples, and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles” (Lu 6:13). He “ordained twelve that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach” (Mk 3:14; Jn 15:16). These twelve common, ordinary, working-class men became full-time students, learners. Obeying Jesus’ calling, they left their occupations, their homes, and permanently dedicated themselves to him continuously for the rest of their lives.
Their names were Peter/Simon, Andrew, James, John; Philip, Bartholomew/Nathanael, Matthew/Levi, Thomas; James (the less) son of Alphaeus, Judas/Thaddaeus the brother of James (not Iscariot), Simon (Zealot), Judas Iscariot. All the synoptic gospels show the twelve in three groups—always with the same four men in each group. While the order of the remaining three men within the group varies, each group is led by the same apostle. Thus, Peter is always listed first, Philip is always listed fifth, and James, son of Alphaeus is always listed ninth, Judas Iscariot is always listed last. Three pairs were brothers: Peter and Andrew; James and John; James the son of Alpheus and Judas (not Iscariot), the brother of James aka Thaddaeus.
Jesus immediately began intensively training and preparing his twelve official representatives. Time was of the essence—in about 18-24 months, his earthly ministry would end. They sat on a mountainside while Jesus gave his famous “Sermon on the Mount” to a huge crowd (Mt 5-7); healed the servant of a Roman Centurion; raised the widow from Nain’s son from death(first of three raisings); received inquiry from John the Baptist via his disciples; Jesus’ reply to John (Mt 11:2-19); woes to Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida; sinful woman anoints Jesus’ feet.
Second Tour of Galilee. Jesus, the twelve and certain women “went throughout every city and village preaching,” including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna and many others, provided financial support (Lu 8:1-3 ; began teaching the mysteries of God using parables (Mt 13:1-35); healed a blind, dumb demoniac; stilled a tempest; exorcised Gadarene demoniacs; raised Jarius’ daughter from the dead (only the inner three disciples, Peter, James and John, witnessed this miracle); woman healed by touching Jesus’ clothes; healed two blind men and a dumb demoniac; second rejection at Nazareth synagogue (Mk 6:1-6).
Messiah? Christ? or Beelzebub? The Pharisees, religious leaders of Judaism, accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub (prince of devils). Denying that Jesus was Messiah, the Christ, the Son of David, and aligning him with Satan was the unpardonable sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Mt 12:22-37). Confirmation of the Jews’ utter rejection of Jesus as Messiah was when the Jewish High Priest, Caiaphas, condemned him to death (Jn 11:47-53).
Jesus divided the twelve Apostles into six pairs/teams …
Third Tour of Galilee. Jesussent the twelve off in pairs on short-term field assignments (possibly limited to Galilee) with extraordinary ordination instructions, commandments and the power to perform miracles (Mt 9:5-10:42). They were told to go at once, go just as they were and not to bother about food, clothing, money or bodily needs; to trust God for these (Mt 10:1-11:1; Mk 6:7-12; Lu 9:1-6).
Only Mark referred to the twelve going out “two and two,” and he did so only once (Mark 6:7). Starting with this mission, Jesus called them “Apostles” (“sent ones”). This was the twelve’s first solo experience—their internship—they would learn by doing. They were to deliver the special message: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” (that Messiah had arrived) only to the “House of Israel” (Jews only) and to confirm it with healing miracles at no charge. Meanwhile, Jesus (by himself) also “departed to teach and preach in their cities.” This was the only recorded time that the twelve were out preaching on their own during Jesus’ lifetime.
Jesus and the twelve …
The precise length of time the twelve were out in the field on their solo mission cannot be pinpointed, because the date they departed is not recorded in Scripture. Therefore, we can only hypothesize from recorded events that the Apostles possibly attended and from seasons of sowing, harvesting and preservation of crops to when the Apostles returned for the upcoming Spring Passover. Israel was an agrarian society—planting and animal husbandry was critical. Their lives revolved around sowing and reaping. Perhaps the two most likely times they left on their two by two mission was:
(1) After the Feast of Tabernacles ended (Tishri 15-22; end of Sep. 28 AD), at which their attendance was required. This date does not fit as well because after the Feast of Tabernacles there is only about a 30-day break before planting season for fall crops begins, lasting about two months, and the olive harvest has not finished.
(2) After the Feast of Dedication (Kislev 25-Tevet 2; first of Dec. 28 AD), when there was about a 60-day Winter break in cultivating and harvesting. It is not recorded or required that they attended this feast, though they did attend it the following year (Jn 10:22).
- IF they left after the Feast of Tabernacles, then their two by two missions possibly spanned a little over 4 months (Oct. thru most of Feb.)
- IF they left after the sowing season (Nov. thru Dec.), then their two by two missions may have spanned about 6–9 weeks (approx. Jan. and most of Feb.)
The twelve returned shortly and reported back to Jesus
Prior to Passover No. 3, Nisan 14 (March 16), 29 AD (John 6:4)
About that time Herod Antipas beheaded John the Baptist (Mk 6:17-29), who was the first martyr for Christ. Herod (hearing of Jesus’ fame, and fearing he was John the Baptist risen from the dead) wanted to see Jesus (Lu 9:7-9); the Pharisees became bloodthirsty; Jesus was a wanted man.
After John’s disciples buried his body, they went and told Jesus. The twelve returned to Galilee and reported to Jesus (Mk 6:30-31; Lu 9:10). Jesus took them to rest in the eastern city of Bethsaida ruled by Tetrarch Philip; mobs followed them; fed 5,000 sitting on “green grass”; walked on water to their ship; rescued sinking Peter; went through region of Gennesaret (Galilee) where many sick and diseased were healed by touching his clothing; many were offended at his “I am the Bread of Life” sermon and deserted him (Jn 6:60-71).
Attended Passover No. 3 (Jn 6:4)in Jerusalem, immediately followed by Feast of Unleavened Bread; returned to Galilee (not recorded).
IV. Third Year of Jesus’ Public Ministry ~ Leap Year
Passover No. 3, Nisan 14,29 AD to Passover No. 4 Nisan 14, 30 AD
Last six months of Galilean ministry
Jesus and the twelve …
Attended Passover No. 3 (Jn 6:4). Although it is not recorded, they most likely journeyed to Jerusalem and attended the Passover (Pesach) on Nisan 14 (March 16); the spring Feast of Weeks/Harvest/Pentecost (Shavuot) on Sivan 6-7 (about 50 days after Passover); all healthy adult Jewish males were required to observe both.
Opposition intensified. Remained in Galilee after Passover No. 3 as the Jews in Judea “sought to kill him”; strived to keep a lower profile; stopped speaking openly and instead taught with parables; instructed those he healed to keep it quiet, to “not make him known.”
Withdrew four times to Gentile areas outside of Galilee ruled by Tetrarch Philip to avoid territories ruled by Herod Antipas (Tyre, Sidon in Phoenicia, Decapolis, Perea), where he healed many, including Gentiles; remained in Caesarea Philippi near Mt. Hermon (about 25 miles north of Sea of Galilee), training the twelve.
Upbraided Pharisees for “teaching for doctrine the commandments of men”; fed the 4,000; Pharisees demanded a sign in Magadan/Magdala; asked the disciples, “Whom do men say that I am?” Peter stated Jesus was “the Son of the Living God”; predicted his death and resurrection for first time; rebuked Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Jesus was transfigured on a high mountain (probably Mt Hermon); only the inner three, Peter, James and John, witnessed it; healed a demoniac boy after disciples failed.
Returned to Galilee. Jesus predicted his death and resurrection for second time. In Capernaum, paid taxes with coin from fish’s mouth; “except ye become…as little children.”
The Later Judean Ministry
Beginning six months prior to Jesus’ crucifixion
Jesus and the twelve …
Fall 29 AD. Departed from Galilee for Jerusalem, apart from Jesus’ family; attended required Feast of Tabernacles (Jn 7:2-8). In the two months between the two feasts (Tabernacles and Dedication), they traveled around various towns and villages in Judea in a last attempt to evangelize Judea as Jesus had previously done in Galilee. “Harvest truly is great, labourers are few.”
Jesus sent out the SEVENTY disciples “two and two” to announce “The kingdom of God is near you” around Jerusalem and Judea (Lu 10:1-12). Besides the twelve for their trial mission, this was the only other time Jesus sent out any disciples in this manner. The SEVENTY RETURNED near Jerusalem (Lu 10:17-24); “Woes” upon the Pharisees.
Jesus taught in the temple; “I am the Light of the world”; mixed reactions: from belief to hatred and attempted stoning; Nicodemus defended Jesus; pardoned the adulteress taken in act; was denied entrance to Samarian village (Lu9:51-56); James and John offered to incinerate it (Ginae?).
Good Samaritan parable; visited home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus in Bethany; Lord’s Prayer; anointed eyes of man born blind who washed in Pool of Siloam and was cast out of synagogue for believing Jesus was Christ (Jn 9:1-41); healed woman of 18-year infirmity.
Fall 29 AD. Traveled to Jerusalem to attend the Feast of Dedication heldKislev 25-Tevet 2 (end of Nov., Jn 10:22); second stoning attempt.
Perean Ministry (aka “Judea beyond Jordan”)
Jesus and the twelve …
Withdrew to Perea (Jn 10:40-42); ministered in and around Perea for about three months up until just before Passover No. 4; made three withdrawals out of the area.
“Strait gate, few there be that enter in;” Jesus called Herod Antipas “that fox;” mourned over Jerusalem; healed man with dropsy on Sabbath; taught more parables; went to Bethany and raised Lazarus from dead. High Priest Caiaphas decreed, “one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not” (Jn 11:50); withdrew to Ephraim (north of Bethany, Jn 11:54) away from his enemies; returned to Galilee.
V. Final Journey to Jerusalem
Nisan 30 AD to his Ascension
Jesus, accompanied by the twelve …
Before leaving Galilee, healed ten lepers, en route to Perea via Samaria (Mk 10:1). Jesus healed and taught great multitudes that thronged them; gave divorce and remarriage discourse; blessed little children; rich young ruler; prediction that the disciples will sit on 12 thrones judging Israel; taught more parables; third prediction of his passion; ambitious mother of James and John; in Jericho, healed blind Bartimaeus and converted Zacchaeus.
Six days before Passover No. 4 (Nisan 9, Sabbath). they returned to Bethany (2 miles east of Jerusalem); visited Mary and Martha; supper at Simon the leper/potter’s home where Mary anointed Jesus with costly ointment; Judas complained. Jews came to see Jesus and Lazarus who had been raised from the dead; many believed. Meanwhile, Chief priests and Pharisees were looking for Jesus to kill both him and Lazarus (Jn 12:1-10).
VI. FINAL Week at Jerusalem (Passion Week)
Jesus with the twelve …
Nisan 10 (Sunday, March 31) 30 AD, Triumphal Entry. Jesus directed Peter and John to secure an unridden colt of an ass/donkey. As predicted, he entered Jerusalem on Sunday on the colt; a great multitude spread palm tree branches and garments on the road before him; crowd cried out “Blessed be the King who cometh in the name of the Lord, “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Mt 21:1-9; fulfillment of Zec 9:9). Jesus wept over Jerusalem; retired to Bethany in evening;Pharisees exclaimed, “the whole world has gone after him!” Jews brought their unblemished Passover lambs into their homes on this day (Ex 12:3).
Nisan 11 (Monday, April 1) 30 AD. Returned to Jerusalem; withered fig tree; second cleansing of the temple where he taught daily and healed blind and lame; at night they retired to Mt. of Olives; scribes/high priest sought to destroy him.
Nisan 12 (Tuesday April 2) 30 AD. Forgive in order to be forgiven. Herodians, Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees, Chief Priests and Elders challenge Jesus’ authority and question him. render to Caesar what is Caesar’s; Greatest Commandment; beware of the scribes and Pharisees; seven woes to Pharisees; widow’s two mites; destruction of the temple and Jesus’ second coming predicted; Voice from Heaven; four “watch” parables, wicked husbandmen, rejected cornerstone; Jesus’s third lament, “Oh Jerusalem…”. First time Jesus tells disciples he will be betrayed and crucified (Mt 26:1). Sanhedrin conspired to kill Jesus; betrayal pact with Judas; Jesus directed Peter and John to prepare for Passover No. 4 (Last Supper) in the upper room; Voice from Heaven (Jn 12:28).
Nisan 13 (Wednesday, April 3) 30 AD. Began the Passover Meal (Pesach, the Last Supper) (Mt 26:17-30; Mk 14:12-26; Lu 22:7-20; Jn 13:1-15:26). Introduction to beginning of transition from Dispensation of Law to the Dispensation of Grace. Strife among twelve—who was greatest; Jesus washed disciples’ feet; Judas revealed as betrayer and departed; new commandment—”love one another as I have loved you”; Lord’s Supper instituted (1 Cor 11:23-25); sang hymns (Ps 113-118); all departed for Mt. of Olives. Jesus’ last/farewell discourse (25 promises, 13 admonitions), “I am the way the truth and the life.”
Peter’s denial and dispersion of twelve foretold; Jesus changed his instructions: “But now, take purse, scrip, sword,” etc. (Lu 22:35); promise of Comforter/Holy Spirit; makes “high priestly intercessory prayer” (Jn 17:1-26); Jesus’ agony in Garden of Gethsemane in Mt of Olives; sweated drops of blood; angel strengthened him (only the inner three, Peter, James and John were present; they slept); betrayed by Judas’ kiss; Jewish officers arrested and bound Jesus; Peter cut off Malchus’ ear—Jesus restored it; all the disciples forsook him.
The Trials of the Centuries
Jesus underwent two trials, each having three phases. The first was the religious trials—the charge was blasphemy; the second was the civil trials—the charge was sedition.
Three Jewish Religious Trials. Nisan 13 (Wednesday, April 3) 30 AD. First trial at night before Annas (Jewish); Second trial before High Priest Caiaphas and Sanhedrin (informal; John 18:24); admits he is Christ (Mk 14:62) Peter and John follow Jesus to Caiaphas’ court; Peter’s triple denial—cock crows three times; Third formal trial at sunrise before Sanhedrin; Judas’ remorse and suicide.
Three Gentile Civil Trials. Early the next morning a (civil) Fourth trial was held before Pontius Pilate (Roman governor; the first time); Fifth trial before Herod Antipas (Jewish); Sixth trial, before Pilate, second time); Pilate again attempted to release Jesus/Barabbas and then washed his hands; soldiers mocked, scourged and placed crown of thorns on his head; Pilate’s final attempt to let Jesus go free; “Crucify him!” Pilate’s final sentencing Jesus to death; Simon of Cyrene compelled to bear Jesus’ cross to Golgotha (aka Calvary, “place of a skull”).
Jesus’ Crucifixion, Death and Burial
Nisan 13 (Wednesday, April 3) 30 AD.
First three hours on the Cross (9:00 am.–Noon). Jesus nailed to the cross between two thieves; sign on cross, “This is the King of the Jews”; “Father, forgive them”; lots cast for Jesus’ garments; mocked and reviled; “Behold thy mother”; promise to one thief “This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
Final three hours on the Cross (Noon–3:00 pm) (Mt 27:45-50).Darkness over all the land for three hours, noon to 3:00 pm; “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”; “I thirst”; given sponge with vinegar; “It is finished”; “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”; Jesus “gave up the ghost” in the ninth hour (3:00 pm), near the hour the priests were slaying the lambs for Passover.
After Jesus’ death. Veil of Temple torn in two; graves opened; centurion’s confession; some onlookers were astonished and believed; Galilean women and acquaintances beheld from afar. After Jesus’ side was pierced, Joseph of Arimathaea requested Jesus’ body, and with Nicodemus wrapped it in linen/spices and laid it in Joseph’s personal new sepulchre, for he needed to be buried before sundown, or they could not partake of the Passover on Nisan 14 (Jn 19:31-38); women followed, observed his burial location (Lu 23:56); tomb was sealed; Roman guards installed before sunset.
Nisan 14, High Day/Sabbath (Thursday, April 4) 30 AD.
Exodus 12:1-11, 14; Leviticus 23:5
The Day of Preparation on Wednesday Nisan 13 ended at sunset which is the beginning of the Passover on Nisan 14. Israelites commanded to eat the Passover lamb on that very night (Ex 12:6, 8). Passover was Jesus’ first night and first day in the tomb of his “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Mt 12:40).
As John the Baptist, Peter and Paul recognized, Jesus was the pascal lamb: “Behold, the Lamb of God.” “For even Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor 5:7). “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things … but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Pet 1:18-20).
Nisan 15 (April 5, Friday, 30 AD, Feast of Unleavened Bread (Ex 12:17-18; Lev 23:6-7). The second day and night Jesus’ body lay in the tomb.
Nisan 16 (April 6, Saturday/Sabbath), 30 AD. The third day and night Jesus’ body lay in the tomb.
Jesus’ Resurrection ~ He is risen ~ and Ascension
Nisan 17 (Sunday, April 7) 30 AD ~ End of Passion Week
To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
Most likely after sunset on the Sabbath (when Sunday began), there was a great earthquake, angels rolled away the stone, the guards were paralyzed “as dead men”; Jesus rose from the grave, the third day after his death.
Three women intending to anoint his body with spices found the stone rolled back; Mary Magdalene ran to tell Peter and John—they found the tomb empty and went home. Meanwhile, the Angel/s appeared to the frightened women; announced, “He is risen!”; instructed women to go tell the disciples and Peter that Jesus would meet them in Galilee. Jesus appeared to Mary who thought he was the gardener. Roman guards notified chief priests who bribed them to claim that Jesus’ disciples stole his body; bodies of dead saints rose from graves in Jerusalem; Apostles waited for Jesus in Jerusalem. Judas was replaced with Matthias.
The Risen Jesus:
appeared to Peter
appeared to two men on the road to Emmaus, who reported to the eleven Apostles in Jerusalem
appeared to ten Apostles; “Receive ye the Holy Ghost”; Thomas doubted
appeared to the eleven Apostles with Thomas present
appeared to seven Apostles by Sea of Galilee; miraculous catch of fish; restored Peter. “Feed my sheep”
appeared to 500 on Mt Olivet; gave The Great Commission (Mt 28:16-20)
appeared to James (Jesus’ elder brother, son of Mary/Joseph) (1 Cor 15:7-8)
appeared to all the Apostles telling them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit (Lu 24:49)
Lyyar 26 (May 16) 30 AD ~ 40th day after Resurrection
Forty days after his resurrection (Acts 1:3), Jesus led the Apostles to Bethany, blessed them, told them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit (Lu 24:51-52); “was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God” (Acts 1:9). Two angels talked with Apostles.
Feast of Weeks or Pentecost
Sivan 6-7, 50 days after Passover (May 26)
Jerusalem. As promised, the Holy Spirit appeared and filled the Apostles who miraculously spoke in other tongues [foreign languages] to huge crowds; fiery tongues rested upon them; Peter addressed the crowd (Acts 1-2).
Afterwards, filled with the Holy Spirit, the Apostles scattered to all the world. As Jesus had said, “as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (Jn 20:21). His final method of sending of the twelve was with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Peter. After Jesus’ death, Peter emerged as the leader and spokesperson for the Apostles and the early church. It was Peter who first “raised his voice” and preached at Pentecost, the day when the church began its mission to the world (Acts 2). It was Peter who served as an advocate for the Apostles before the Jewish religious court in Jerusalem (Acts 4:8–22). It was Peter who disciplined those who erred within the church (Acts 5:1–10). The risen Jesus pronounced, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Mat 16:18-19). It was Peter to whom Jesus gave his three-fold profession of love and commission to “feed my sheep” (John 21:16-17) and to “strengthen thy brethren” (Lu 22:31-33).
70 AD. Within 40 years, the Temple, the priesthood, the sacrifices and the nation of Israel would be destroyed. In 70 AD the Romans razed Jerusalem, utterly destroyed the Temple, slaughtered over a million of its inhabitants and all but obliterated over 1,000 other towns and villages in Judea. Concerning the Temple, Jesus predicted “there shall not be left one stone upon another” (Mt 24:2).
In the second year of Jesus’ Public Ministry, he chose the twelve (28 AD).
They were with him for about 18-24 months.
They only preached two by two from 6 weeks to 4 months (28 AD).
There is no record of Jesus sending the twelve again to preach in pairs on their own.
Six months before his death, Jesus sent out the seventy, two and two.
They returned (Lu 10:17); From then on, the twelve accompanied Jesus constantly.
Until his ascension, he prepared them for his departure and for their future worldwide work,
the Great Commission.
DISCLAIMER: As it is not always possible to know with precision or certainty when in time the hundreds of individual sayings and events from the life of Jesus may have occurred, it is unlikely that the dates assigned to each and every scene in this timeline are completely accurate, but they are reasonable, given the available scriptural and historical sources of information and our current understanding of them. This compilation is not to be considered as one of finality regarding the chronological arrangement of the events in Jesus’ life as recorded in the Gospels. The absence in scripture of fixed events indicating time makes chronological dogmatism impossible.
NOTE: A modern Harmony is invaluable for the serious study of the life of Jesus. Numerous “Harmonies of the Gospels” are published for various Bible versions. Harmonies group the events in the four gospels in a narrative format in sequential order. Passage by passage, verse by verse, the text of each book is printed in four parallel columns, side by side. This arrangement enables the reader to follow the footsteps of Jesus without the distraction of having to flip pages back and forth in their Bible. It provides a four-fold portrait of Jesus that is much richer than that given by any single gospel author’s point of view
It is highly recommended that the reader seriously desiring to follow Jesus’ footsteps through the Bible select a harmony for their preferred Bible version; even better, one with Jesus’ words shown in red.
This timeline used: An Analytical Red Letter Harmony of the Four Gospels: A Return to the Historic Text (A.V.) 2nd Edition by Floyd Nolen Jones, Kings Word Press 2004, PO Box 5040, Goodyear, AZ 85338
A Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christ by A. T. Robertson
Baker’s Harmony of the Gospels (KJV) edited by Benjamin Davies
***This Timeline was inspired by the late Dr. David Cotton’s Sunday School Class at Faith Bible Church, Edmond, Oklahoma, US.
Compiled by Cherie Kropp and Chester Ehrig
Revised August 21, 2023