Timeline of Jesus’ Birth

the-birth-of-jesusTime Line of Jesus’ Birth – Gospels of Matthew & Luke.

The angel Gabrial, standing by the altar of incense in the temple, appears to Zacharias. The angel tells Zacharias that his wife, Elizabeth, will have a son whose name is John and that he will prepare the way for the Mesiah. Zacharias questions this because they are old.  He is struck speechless. When he emerges, the people see his condition and gestures as a sign of divine revelation.  Luke 1:5-21

An Angel tells the virgin Mary that she will bear the messiah, foretelling Jesus’ birth. She is also told that her cousin Elisabeth is pregnant. Luke 1:26-38

Mary visits Elisabeth, who is 6 months pregnant, and stays 3 months. When Mary arrives Elisabeth’s child, John, leaps in her womb for joy. Luke 1:39-41

Both Elisabeth and Mary prophesy. Luke 1:42-55

Mary, who is 3 months pregnant, returns home to Nazareth and Elisabeth gives birth. Luke 1:56-57

Zacharias names their baby boy John and then regains his ability to speak. Luke 1:58-64

Everyone is amazed about it throughout the whole area. Luke 1:65-66

Zacharas prophesies. Luke 1:67-79

Joseph learns of Mary’s pregnancy and wants to quietly get rid of her. Matthew 1:19

In a dream, an angel tells Joseph to marry Mary because her baby is from God. Matthew 1:20-23

Joseph marries Mary but doesn’t “know” her until after her baby is born.   Matthew 1:24-25

Jesus had at least 4 brothers (James, Joses, Simon and Judas) and at least 3 sisters. See Matthew 13:55-56.  Note: the belief that Mary remained a virgin and the others are older children of Joseph by a first wife is unsupported. The nativity story and their flight to Egypt never mention other children, who would have been brought along for the census and would have traveled with them to Egypt.

Joseph and Mary, whose pregnancy is far advanced, travel to Bethlehem for the census imposed by Caesar Augustus. Luke 2:1-5

Jesus is born and laid in a manger because there is no room in the inn. Luke 2:6-7

That night, shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem are visited by an angel announcing the birth of Jesus who is declared the Messiah. A heavenly host joins the angel proclaiming peace. Luke 2:8-14

The shepherds leave their flocks in the field and find Jesus lying in a manger as predicted. Luke 2:15-16

The shepherds spread the news throughout the town and countryside and then return to their flocks. Luke 2:17-20

Joseph, Mary and Jesus move into a house (or room in the inn) in Bethlehem to stay until Mary’s purification is complete (40 days).   Timing is uncertain, but before the wise men arrive. See Matthew  2:11

On the eighth day Jesus is circumcised. Luke 2:21

Wise men from the east country arrive at Jerusalem seeking the “King” whose star they have followed, and the whole city is in an uproar. Matthew 2:1-3

They inquire of King Herod where the child is prophesied to be born. Matthew 2:2-4

Herod’s advisers tell them that the child, the Messiah, is prophesied to be born in Bethlehem. Matthew 2:4-6

Herod asks when the star appeared (probably over 1.5 years from the day Zacharias was visited by the angel Gabriel. 6 months plus 9 months of Mary’s pregnancy. See calculation below). Matthew 2:7

Herod requests that they return and tell him where the child is, supposedly so he can worship him (a lie). Matthew 2:7-8

The wise men visit Jesus in a house in Bethlehem and offer gifts. The fact that they are still in Bethlehem and haven’t returned to Nazareth probably means Mary’s 40 day period of purification was not yet complete. Matthew 2:11

To have arrived within 40 days of Jesus’ birth, the wise men must have begun following the star well before Jesus’ birth, perhaps when Mary was annunciated or even when the angel appears to Zacharias. Two years is reasonable to fit the ages of children later killed in Herod’s slaughter of the innocents. By adding Elisabeth’s 6 months and Mary’s 9 months, well over a year passed between Elisabeth’s conception of John and Jesus’s birth; then by adding the 40 days of purification and perhaps a month before Zacharias returned home to Elisabeth and the period Herod waited for the wise men before acting, it would be about two years.)

The wise men are warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, and they leave by another route. Matthew 2:12

Mary’s days of purification are completed. This was mentioned in Luke 2:22 but was connected to presentation in the temple with no mention of the period in Egypt or the slaughter.

Joseph is warned in a dream to take the child to Egypt to avoid Herod’s murderous rage. They depart. Matthew 2:13-14

Based on the testimony of the wise men about when the star first appeared, Herod has all of the male babies under 2 years old murdered in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus as a threat to his reign. Matthew 2:16-18

Herod dies and they return from Egypt after an angel informs them of Herod’s death. Matthew 2:19-21

Jesus is presented in the Temple in Jerusalem and dedicated to God as a first born son. Luke 2:22-24

In the temple, Simeon recognizes and declares Jesus as the Messiah he had been expecting and had been revealed to come before his death. (Jesus is still an infant or a very young child that Simeon was able to take up in his arms. Their stay in Egypt was probably only a very few years until Herod dies.) Luke 2:25-32

In the temple, Anna, a righteous widow, also recognizes and declares Jesus as the Messiah. Luke 2:36-38

Joseph, Mary and Jesus move to Nazareth to avoid possible danger from Herod’s sons. Luke 2:39

While growing up, Jesus is found debating with the elders in the temple in Jerusalem at age 12. Luke 2:40-48

John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, who is 6 months older, grows up and spends most of his time in the desert wearing rough clothing and eating honey and locusts, possibly as an esthetic hermit. Luke 1:80

Jesus turns water into wine at his mother’s request, but declares his time is not yet. John 2:1-11

John the Baptist begins to preach baptism for remission of sins and to prepare for the coming Messiah. Several references hint that John is the prophet Elias returned to announce the Messiah. Luke 3:2-18; Matthew 3:1-12

John the Baptist baptizes Jesus in the Jordon River. The Holy Spirit descends on Jesus and declares him the Son of God. Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 3:21-22

Jesus fasts in the wilderness for 40 days and is tempted by Satan. He resists and Satan departs. Angels minister to him. Luke 4:1-13; Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus begins preaching at age 30, calls his first disciples and performs many miracles of healing. Matthew 4:17; Luke 4:14-15