There is not one scripture reference that we can turn to which would prove that the Lord Jesus’ ministry lasted 3 ½ years. We must string together several passages in order to give us some idea of how long our blessed Lord served Mankind.

In Luke 3:1-2 we read, “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesarthe word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.” Here we see the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist. The reign of Tiberius Caesar began on the 19th of August, A. D. 28. Shortly after John was called to testify of the coming Messiah, he baptized the Lord Jesus. Luke 3:23 tells us, “And Jesus Himself began to be about thirty years of age.” Many Bible scholars agree that Jesus’ baptism, followed by the beginning of His public ministry, began in the autumn of A. D. 28.

The Gospel of John records three Passovers during Jesus’ ministry. The first one is recorded in John 2:13, “And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” This would have been in Nisan A.D. 29; in other words, approximately six months after Jesus’ baptism. The second one is found in John 6:3-4, “And Jesus went up into a mountainand the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.” The third Passover is in John 11:55-57, “And the Jews’ Passover was nigh at handThen sought they Jesusthat they might take Him.” Of course, this was the Passover upon which our Savior died, for He was the “Passover Lamb” and prophecy dictated that He must die on that day. This is confirmed in Matthew 26:1-2, “And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, He said unto His disciples, Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.” Based on the passages we’ve already considered, Jesus’ ministry lasted about 2 ½ years. So, why do many believe the Lord’s ministry lasted 3 ½ years? Because many scholars believe there was “another Passover” observed by the Lord Jesus during His public ministry. Some of them simply assume this; others base this belief on John 5:1 which reads, “After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” They believe that this “unnamed” feast was indeed the Passover and that would make “four Passovers” observed by the Lord Jesus during His public ministry. If this is true, then His ministry did indeed last 3 ½ years.

Whether our Savior’s ministry lasted 2 ½ or 3 ½ years, what really matters is that He was God’s Perfect Servant. In Mark 10:45 Jesus Himself declared, “For even the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (NASB). Our blessed Lord served tirelessly, meeting the physical and spiritual needs of man wherever He went. And at the end of His perfect life of service, He met our greatest need by going to the cross in order “to give His life a ransom for many.” (166.5) (DO)