February 20, 2015

From the Editor Emeritus / John F. Fink

Jesus began his mission along the Jordan River

John F. Fink“Bye, Mom. I’ll be gone for a couple months, but I promise to be back in time for the wedding in Cana.”

We can imagine Jesus saying something like that to Mary sometime either in the year 26 or 29 A.D., although, of course, the year wouldn’t have been called that. Rather, according to Luke’s Gospel, it was during the 15th year of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius (Lk 3:1), which would have made it 29 A.D.

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke have Jesus’s public life lasting only one year. John’s Gospel, though, reports three Passovers before Jesus’s death and resurrection in the year 30. If this is true, Jesus’s goodbye to his mother would have occurred in 26 A.D.

Furthermore, in John’s Gospel, we see the statement, “This temple has been under construction for 46 years” (Jn 2:20). Since the Temple was started by King Herod in 18 B.C., that statement must have been made in the year 28.

Since many scholars believe that Jesus was born in 6 or 7 B.C. (since Herod died in 4 B.C.), he would have been about 32 or 33 in the year 26. Luke says he was “about 30” when he began his ministry (Lk 3:23).

Jesus left Nazareth after he learned that his cousin John was preaching and baptizing on the lower Jordan River, near Jericho. So Jesus walked to the Sea of Galilee, where he likely joined a caravan down the Jordan Valley along the east side of the Jordan River to avoid Samaria. It was in the territory of Perea, which is in present-day Jordan. It would have taken about a week.

When he met John, he asked him to baptize him. As he was coming out of the water after the baptism, he heard God’s voice telling him, “You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased” (Mk 1:11).

Then, as reported in the Gospel that is read at Masses this weekend, Jesus went on a 40-day retreat in the desert to meditate about what his Father’s will was for him, what his mission was to be. He was also tempted by the devil.

A Greek Orthodox monastery was built in 1874 on the eastern side of the Mount of Temptation, over the cave thought to be where Jesus stayed and was tempted by the devil.

After his 40 days in the desert, Jesus learned that John had moved up to Bethany Across the Jordan, or Batanea, near the Sea of Galilee, at a tributary of the Jordan called the Yarmuk River. Jesus followed, and this is where he was introduced to two of John’s disciples, one of whom was Andrew. Andrew, in turn, introduced him to his brother Simon, whom Jesus renamed Peter.

All this time Jesus had been somewhere along the Jordan River, the eastern border of Palestine.

Then, John reports, the next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee, although he doesn’t say where in Galilee. Here he found Philip, who in turn found Nathanael. So now Jesus had a few disciples.

Then he kept his word to his mother, going to Cana for the wedding. †

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