The earthly ministry of Jesus, which encompassed the last 3 1/2 years of his life, is composed of two main parts. The first part is considered somewhat of a "private" ministry where he received baptism from John the Baptist and initially met many of the disciples. It ran from the fall of 26 A.D. to the spring Passover season of 27 A.D. The public ministry of Jesus starts during the Spring of 27 A.D. when he appeared at Jerusalem's temple and runs to his death in 30 A.D. (John 2:13 - 25).
In the fall of 26 A.D., at least six months before Passover, when he is about thirty (Luke 3:23), Jesus travels from Nazareth (Mark 1:9) to Bethabara (John 1:28). He does so in order to "fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15). Interestingly, John the Baptist, who will perform the baptism ceremony, does NOT know in advance who exactly is the Messiah (John 1:31, 33). God has told him, however, to look for a special sign denoting who is His only Son. This sign (likely only visible to John), which will occur after the baptism, will be the Holy Spirit descending out of heaven and remaining on the person (ultimately Jesus).
John witnesses the sign of the Messiah immediately after the baptism when Jesus comes up from from the Jordan River (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10). He sees God's spirit, like a dove, descend and remain upon Christ (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:21 - 22, John 1:32 - 34). Then, a voice from heaven says, "This is My Son, the Beloved, in Whom I have great delight" (Matthew 3:17, HBFV, see also Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22). The next event will spiritually prepare the Lord for beginning his public ministry during the upcoming Passover season.
After his baptism, God's spirit leads Jesus from Bethabara into the wilderness (likely the wilderness area of Judea located just west of the Dead Sea). He is led to the area so that, while he is fasting for forty days, he can be tempted (the entire time!) directly by Satan's subtle lies (Matthew 4:1 - 11, Mark 1:12 - 13, Luke 4:1 - 13). His overcoming of the adversary will prepare him to soon enter Jerusalem, in power and zeal, during Passover.
The Greatest Temptation
After his baptism, both Matthew and Luke each list three specific temptations, directed at our Savior, toward the end of his fast. Satan's last temptations of Jesus were chosen to appeal to any human-based weaknesses and desires he might choose to indulge. The devil's ultimate goal is to get him to sin by choosing to do things contrary to God the Father's perfect will.
The devil tempted Jesus to PROVE he was God in the flesh by immediately alleviating his hunger through a miracle (Matthew 4:3 - 4, Luke 4:3 - 4). He also challenged him to prove his Father's love by jumping off a high location to see if he would be kept from injury (Matthew 4:5 - 7, Luke 4:9 - 12). Perhaps the greatest temptation that came to Christ was to forego the prophetic trials, pain and tortuous death that awaited him and instead immediately rule over mankind (Matthew 4:8 - 10, Luke 4:5 - 8). After Jesus overcame "the god of this world" (John 12:31, 2Corinthians 4:4) he was ministered to by angels (Matthew 4:11, Mark 1:13). He soon returns to Bethabara (John 1:28).
Behold the Passover Lamb!
In Bethabara, John the Baptist sees Jesus walking toward him and proclaims, "Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). The next day, when two of his disciples (John and Andrew) are with him, the Baptist again verbally identifies the Messiah as the true Passover lamb (verses 35 - 37, Revelation 5:6). The two disciples talk with Jesus and spend the rest of the day with him.
Andrew soon tells his brother Simon (Peter) that he has found the Messiah (John 1:42). Peter and Jesus then meet for the first time recorded in Scripture (verse 42). The day after their meeting two more men, Philip and Nathanael, make an initial contact (verses 43 - 51). Christ and at least five of his disciples soon travel to Cana to attend a wedding ceremony and the celebration that follows (John 2:1 - 2).
Sometime during the wedding festivities in Cana, the store of wine used for the celebration is exhausted. Jesus is informed of this situation by his mother Mary. Although he initially rejects her veiled appeal for his help (John 2:4), he tells servants to fill six large stone vessels (used for Jewish purification purposes) with water. He then asks them to draw out some of the liquid and give it to the "master of the feast" (verse 9), who, after drinking, is astonished at what he tastes! Jesus miraculously not only turned water into wine, the quality of the alcoholic beverage was far SUPERIOR to the best wine first offered guests (verse 10)!
How much quality wine did Jesus create for his first recorded Biblical miracle (John 2:11)? Commentaries vary regarding the total amount used to "reveal His glory" (John 2:11). The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times commentary states that 120 gallons (about 454 liters) of water became wine. Other reference works, like the Bible Knowledge Commentary, mention it could have been as high as 180 gallons (about 681 liters)! Jesus, after the celebration has ended, travels with his family and his disciples to Capernaum. He does not spend much time, however, in the city (John 2:12).
The First Passover
In 27 A.D., after his baptism and other events, Jesus travels from Capernaum to Jerusalem. He travels so that he can keep the first Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread of his ministry (John 2:13) in the city. The spring feasts in 27 occur in April. It will be during this period that Jesus will begin His public preaching.
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