When we study the lives of great men and women of the past, we often begin by noting the year that they were born, the year that they died and what important things they accomplished. For instance, George Washington was born sometime in the year 1732 and he died on December 14, 1799. He surveyed western Virginia, became a senior officer during the French and Indian War, led the American troops during the Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1783, presided over the writing of the American Constitution in 1787, and served two terms as the President of the United States from 1789 – 1797. It is not too difficult to piece together a timeline for the life and career of George Washington. However the farther back we look in time, the more difficult it is to pinpoint the lifetime and dates of historical figures.

What then can we discern concerning the life of Jesus? For most of us, we are aware of his birth and of his death and resurrection. We might be aware that Jesus’ teaching and lessons during the last supper occurred the night prior to his crucifixion. We also might be aware of certain miracles and teachings of Jesus – such as Jesus walking on water, the raising of Lazarus, the sermon on the Mount, etc. Can we place the events and teachings of Jesus into some kind of coherent timeline? Are we able to map out the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus?

The idea of dividing the calendar into B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domino in the year of Christ’s coming) began to catch on in the ninth and tenth centuries, but was not formally adopted in Europe until the 1500’s. The calendar division was established to divide time into the years before Christ was born and the years after his birth. However this does not mean that Jesus was born into the world at 1 AD. The reason for this is because the oldest attempt to date the birth of Christ was by a man named Dionysus Exiguus and he did not have all of the historical documents and notes available today. Some of them had not yet been discovered or found. The result was that he was not quite accurate in his division of the calendar into AD and BC. So then, in what year was Jesus born?

The most probable date for Jesus’ birth was 6 or 7 BC. Most likely Jesus’ ministry began in the fall months of AD 27 with Jesus’ death occurring in the spring of AD 30. (Others hold to a date for the beginning of his ministry at AD 29 with the date for his death set at AD 33.) These dates are established by weighing a lot of different pieces of evidence: the dates of emperors, kings and rulers; the building of the temple under King Herod; the trip of the wise men to Jerusalem; the date of John the Baptist’s ministry; and the chronology of Paul and the book of Acts. Most are not real interested in working through all of those pieces of the puzzle in order to establish accurate dates for the birth and death of Jesus Christ. They simply accept that it occurred in history in that time period.

What is more crucial for establishing a framework for the life of Christ is to divide the events of his life into a timeline. While the gospel writers do not provide a lot of chronological help, what they do provide is organized around the Jewish festival times of the year. Some of the more important Jewish feasts in the time of Christ are listed below (with the ones important for dating the life of Christ underlined):

Rosh Hashanah           Jewish New Year                               Sept – Oct

Yom Kippur                 Day of Atonement                              Sept – Oct

Sukkoth                        Tabernacles or Booths                      Sept – Oct

Hanukkah                    Dedication or Lights                          Nov – Dec

Purim                            Casting of Lots                                    Feb –  March

Pesach                           Passover/Unleavened Bread           March – April

Pentecost                     Fiftieth Day May – June

The gospel of John is the most helpful in organizing the life of Jesus into time periods: he mentions five different feasts, including three Passover seasons.
Passover (the first) – Springtime (John 2:12-13)
An Unnamed Feast (probably Tabernacles) – Fall (John 5:1)
Passover (the second) – Springtime (John 6:4)
Tabernacles – Fall (John 7:2)
Hanukkah (Dedication or Lights) – Winter (John 10:22)
Passover (the last) – Springtime (John 12:1)
Jesus’ ministry seemed to have spanned three Passovers (much like we would say “three Christmases”). Jesus’ ministry then seemed to have spanned two and a half or three and a half years, depending on whether one takes the unnamed feast in John 5:1 as a fourth Passover or as the Feast of Tabernacles. For our purposes, we will consider it to be the Feast of Tabernacles.

With all of these preliminary details in mind, let’s place the life of Jesus in a framework of times and events:
AD 27
John the Baptist begins preaching and baptizing

Jesus is baptized and begins his ministry Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus calls his first disciples John 1:35-51; Matthew 4:18-22; Luke 5:1-11
The marriage feast at Cana – Jesus turns the water into wine John 2:1-12

AD 28

Jesus cleanses the temple at the Passover festival in Jerusalem John 2:13-25
Jesus “Born Again” Conversation with Nicodemus John 3

SPRING, SUMMER AND EARLY FALL OF AD 28 (mostly in Galilee)
Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well John 4
A series of Healings and Casting out of Demons Mark 1:21-45
Jesus Comes into Conflict with the Pharisees Mark 2:1 – 3:6
Paralyzed man let down through the roof / the call of Matthew the tax collector
Questions about fasting / controversy over picking grain on the Sabbath
Controversy over healing the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath
The formal calling of the Twelve Disciples Mark 3:13-19 / Luke 6:12-16
Jesus heals the Centurion’s Servant Matthew 8:5-13 / Luke 7:1-10 / John 4:43-54?
Jesus’ Critics and the Attempt of his family to Dissuade Him from Public Ministry Mark 3:20-35
The Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5:1 – 7:29 (Luke 6 – the Sermon on the Plain)

FALL OF AD 28 (Jerusalem)
Jesus heals the crippled man by the Pool of Bethsaida and the Consequences John 5:1-47

AD 29

The Parables of the Kingdom Matthew 13:1-52; Mark 4:1-34; Luke 8:1-18
The Miracles of Mark’s Gospel Mark 4:35 – 5:43
Calming of the Storm while in the Boat / Casting Demons out of two Demon-Possessed Men
The Raising of Jairus’ Daughter / The Healing of the Woman who Touched his Robe
The Raising of the Widow’s Son Luke 7:11-17
Jesus is Honored by a Sinful Woman at the Home of Simon the Pharisee Luke 7:36-50
Two Blind Men and One Mute Man Healed Matthew 9:27-34
Jesus is Rejected in His Hometown Synagogue at Nazareth Luke 4:14-30 / Mark 6:1-6 / Matt 13:53-58
The Plentiful Harvest and the Sending out of the Twelve to Israelite Towns Matthew 9:35-10:42
The Reassurance for John’s Disciples Matthew 11:1-19
Woe on Galilean Cities and the Invitation to Come to Jesus Matthew 11:20-30

SPRING OF AD 29 THE SECOND PASSOVER (around the Sea of Galilee)
(these events all cover the span of only a few days)
The Death of John the Baptist Matthew 14:1-12 / Mark 6:14-29
The Feeding of the Five Thousand Matt 14:13-21 / Mark 6:32-44 / Luke 9:10-17 / John 6:1-15
Jesus Walks on the Water During the Storm Matt 14:22-33 / Mark 6:45-52 / John 6:16-21
Healings at Genesseret Matthew 14:34-36 / Mark 6:53-56 / John 6:22-25
The Bread of Life Message in the Synagogue at Capernaum John 6:26-71

SUMMER AND EARLY FALL OF AD 29 (End of Jesus’ Ministry in Galilee and His Trips into the Gentile Regions)
The Inquiry from the Pharisees – Jesus’ Response concerning Clean and Unclean Foods
Mark 7:1-23 / Matthew 15:1-20
In the area of Tyre and Sidon (north of Israel):
Demon Cast Out of Phoenician Woman’s Daughter Mark 7:24-30 / Matthew 15:21-28
In the area of the Decapolis (a region of Ten Gentile Cities southeast of the Galilean Lake):
A Deaf-Mute Man is Healed Mark 7:31-37 / Matthew 15:29-31
The Feeding of the Four Thousand Mark 8:1-9 / Matthew 15:32-38
In the region of Dalmanutha (unknown):
Another inquiry from the Pharisees: the demand for a sign – Jesus’ Warning against the Leaven
of the Scribes and Pharisees Matthew 15:39 – 16:12 / Mark 8:10-21
Bethsaida – Julias (a town on the northern tip of the Galilean Lake):
Jesus heals a blind man Mark 8:22-26
Caesarea Philippi (north of the land of Israel):
Peter’s Confession of Jesus as the Christ – Jesus’ First Prediction of his Coming Death
Mark 8:27-38 / Matthew 16:13-28
On Mount Hermon and the Surrounding Hillsides:
Jesus is Transfigured into His Glorious Personage Mark 9:1-10 / Matt 17:1-8 / Luke 9:28-36
The Discussion about Elijah and the Casting of the Demon out of the Boy Mark 9:11-32 /
Matthew 17:10-21 / Luke 9:37-43
In Galilee (the City of Capernaum):
Jesus’ Second Prediction of His Coming Death Mark 9:33-37 / Matt 17:19-23 / Luke 9:43-50
The Temple Tax – the Miracle of the Coin in the Fish’ Mouth Matthew 17:24-27
Jesus’ Sermon on Humility and Forgiveness Matthew 18:1-35

FALL OF AD 29 (Jerusalem during Feast of Tabernacles and Jesus’ Return Trip to Galilee)
Jesus Teaches at the Feast of Tabernacles John 7:1-52
The Woman Taken in Adultery is Brought Before Jesus John 8:1-11
Jesus’ Conversation with the Jewish Religious Leaders Concerning the Truth of His Message
John 8:12-59
Jesus Heals a Blind Man John 9:1-41
Jesus Declares Himself to be The Good Shepherd John 10:1-21

NOVEMBER – EARLY DECEMBER AD 29 (In Perea and Jesus’ Final Trip to Jerusalem)
(Perea is the region between the Dead Sea and the Galilean Lake east of the Jordan River. Much of this material is without notations as to either time or location and all is found in Luke’s gospel. Only three notations are made concerning location: Luke 9:51-56; 10:38-42; and 17:11.)
The Decision to Go to Jerusalem Luke 9:51-56
The Contrasting Pictures of Discipleship Luke 9:57-62
The Sending of 70 Missionaries Luke 10:1-24
The Question of the Scribe and the Story of the Good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37
At the Home of Mary and Martha Luke 10:38-42
Teaching on Prayer Luke 11:1-13
Conflict with the Pharisees Luke 11:14-54
Teaching on Preparing for Judgment Luke 12:1 – 13:9
Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman on the Sabbath Luke 13:10-17
Jesus Teaches on Unexpected Reversals in the Kingdom Luke 13:18 – 14:35
Teaching on the Joy of Repentance – the Parables of Lost Things Luke 15:1-32
Jesus Teaches on the Use and Abuse of Riches Luke 16:1-31
Jesus Teaches on Faith Luke 17:1-10
Ten Healed of Leprosy Luke 17:11-19
Jesus Teaches on How and When the Kingdom will Appear Luke 17:20-37
The Parable of the Persistent Widow Luke 18:1-8
Jesus Tells of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee Praying in the Temple Luke 18:9-14

LATE DECEMBER AD 29 (In Jerusalem at the Feast of Dedication or Lights)
Jesus Teaches and the Jewish Leaders Attempt to Stone Jesus John 10:22-42

AD 30
WINTER AND SPRING OF AD 30 (In and around Judea and Jerusalem)
Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead John 11:1-57
The Pharisees Attempt to Trap Jesus on the Question of Divorce and Jesus Teaching on Divorce
Mark 10:1-12 / Matthew 19:1-12
Jesus Welcomes the Little Children Mark 10:13-16 / Matthew 19:13-15 / Luke 18:15-17
The Rich Young Ruler Comes to Jesus Mark 10:17-31 / Matthew 19:16-30 / Luke 18:18-30
The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (a Parable Against the Religious Leaders) Matt 20:1-16
Jesus’ Third Prediction of His Coming Death and the Disciples’ Misunderstanding Mark 10:32-45 /
Matthew 20:17-28 / Luke 18:31-34
Blind Bartimaeus is Healed at Jericho Mark 10:46-51 / Matthew 20:29-34 / Luke 18:35-43
Zachaeus the Short Tax Collector Believes Luke 19:1-10
Jesus Tells the Parable of the Ten Minas Luke 19:11-27
Jesus Anointed (Honored) by Mary John 12:1-11 / Matthew 26:6-13 / Mark 14:1-9

SPRING OF AD 30 (Sunday through Friday of Jesus’ Last Passover in Jerusalem)
Jesus enters Jerusalem and Presents Himself as the Messiah; then leaves Jerusalem
Luke 19:28-44; Mark 11:11

Early Morning: Walking from Bethany to the temple, Jesus pronounces a curse on the fig tree
Mark 11:12-14
Morning: Jesus Symbolically Cleanses the Temple Mark 11:15-19

Early Morning: On the way to the temple, the disciples notice the withered fig tree – Jesus Teaches an
Important Lesson on Prayer Mark 11:20-25
Late Morning and Afternoon: Jewish Leaders Question Jesus’ Authority to Cleanse the Temple
Matthew 21:23-27
Jesus Directs Two Parables at the Jewish Religious Leaders Matthew 21:28-46

Morning: Jesus tells the Parable of the Wedding Banquet (against the Religious Leaders) – probably
In the temple courtyards Matt 22:1-14
Philip brings some Greek citizens to see Jesus John 12:20-50
Afternoon: While Jesus is teaching on the temple steps, the Jewish Religious Leaders Attempt to
Trap Him in His Words Matthew 22:15-33 / Mark 12:28-34 / Matthew 22:41-46
Late Afternoon: Jesus Gives a Stinging Rebuke to the Pharisees and Religious Leaders Matt 23:1-39
Late Afternoon: Jesus Teaches His Disciples a Lesson on Giving Mark 12:41-44
Evening: on the way back to Bethany (a village just outside of Jerusalem), Jesus stops on the Mount of
Olives overlooking the temple and answers his disciples’ questions on the destruction of the temple and the coming of his kingdom Luke 21:5-6 / Matthew 24:3 – 26:2

The Passover Feast began at 6:00 PM on Thursday evening, AD 30. The Passover lambs were killed in the temple Thursday afternoon between 1:00 and 5:00 PM.

Morning: The Jewish Religious Leaders with the Help of Judas Angrily Plot to Kill Jesus
Matthew 26:3-5, 14-16; Luke 22:1-6
Morning and Afternoon: Jesus sends two disciples ahead to secure a room and make preparations
for celebrating the Passover supper Mark 14:12-16
Evening: Upon entering the room, Jesus takes the Servant’s Role and Washes the Feet of the
Disciples John 13:1-17
Jesus Begins the Practice of the Lord’s Supper Luke 22:14-23
Jesus Predicts Judas’ Betrayal John 13:18-30
The Disciples Argue about which One is the Greatest – Jesus Predicts that they will all abandon Him
Luke 22:24-30 / John 13:31-36 / Matthew 26:31-35 / Luke 22:31-38
After the Passover Meal, Jesus Talks with His Disciples John 14:1-31a
As they leave the city, Jesus Speaks to His Disciples and Prays to His Father John 14:31b – 18:1
Night: Jesus Prays in the Garden of Gethsemane Outside of Jerusalem Matthew 26:36-46
Jesus is Arrested John 18:2-9 / Matthew 26:48-50a / Luke 22:49-51 / John 18:11/ Matthew 26:52-56

Very Early in the Morning: Jesus is Taken to the High Priest John 18:12-24
Jesus is Unofficially Tried before the Sanhedrin (the Jewish supreme court) Matthew 26:57-68
Peter denies the Lord Jesus Mark 14:66-75
The Sanhedrin’s Formal Verdict Rendered About Daybreak Matthew 27:1-2

Morning: Judas Hangs Himself in Remorse Matthew 27:3-10
The Trials before Pilate and Herod John 18:28-32 / Luke 23:2 / John 18:33-38 / Luke 23:5-16 /
Matthew 27:15-26
Jesus is Mocked and Beaten Matthew 27:27-31
The Last Offer for Jesus’ Release John 19:4-16

In the Morning, Around 10:00 AM: Jesus is Crucified Luke 23:26-37 / John 19:19-24 / Luke 23:39-43 /
John 19:25-27
Afternoon, 12:00 – 3:00 PM: Jesus Christ dies on the Cross Matthew 27:45-47 / John 19:28-29 /
Matthew 27:49 / Luke 23:46a / John 19:30 / Matthew 27:51-56 / John 19:31-37
Late Friday afternoon: Joseph Requests the Body of Jesus and Places it in his Tomb Mark 15:42-45 /
John 19:39-42 / Matthew 27:59-61 / Luke 23:55-56 / Matthew 27:62-66

Early Sunday Morning: The Women Visit the Empty Tomb Mark 16:1-8a
Peter and John Investigate the Empty Tomb John 20:1-9
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene John 20:10-18
Jesus Appears to the Other Women Returning from the Tomb Matthew 28:8-10
Later in the Morning: The Guards File a False Report of What Happened Matthew 28:11-15
Afternoon: Jesus Appears to Two of His Disciples Traveling to the 4:13-35
Evening: Jesus Appears to the Disciples Gathered in a Home in Jerusalem Luke 24:36-49

Sunday – One Week Later
Jesus Again Appears to the Disciples in a Home with Thomas Present John 20:24-29

Some Time Later
Jesus Appears to the Disciples by the Galilean Lake John 21:1-25

After a Period of Forty Days Following His Resurrection
Jesus Ascends to Heaven from a Mountain in the Vicinity of Galilee Matt 28:16-17 / Acts 1:6-8 /
Matthew 28:18-20 / Acts 1:9-11