09 The First Five Days of Jesus’s Public Ministry

Dr. Doug Bookman

Note: The months of ministry after Jesus’s baptism and before He commenced His ministry in Galilee are recorded only in John’s gospel. In other words, the narrative of John 1:19 fits entirely between Matthew 4:11 and Matthew 4:12, between Mark 1:13 and Mark 1:14, and between Luke 4:13 and Luke 4:14. Jesus spent those months in Judea, for a time ministering alongside John the Baptist. Throughout those months Jesus primary focus was to gather to Himself the multitude who had obeyed and embraced the message preached by John.

A. John the Baptist Interrogated by a Committee of Sanhedrinists

Scripture: John 1:19-28

Notes: Notice the four chronological notes in John 1:29, John 1:35, John 1:43; and John 2:1. The point of reference (i.e., the day from which the “next day” of 1:29 is computed) is the event of John 1:19-28.


  1. Notice that John’s ministry has become the cause of official concern among the religious leaders of Judea; these who question John at this time were “sent” to do so.
  2. Notice carefully the way John responds to the question “Who are you?”

B. Day #1 of Jesus’s Public Ministry

Scripture: John 1:29-34

Notes: This is the actual beginning of Jesus’s “public ministry.” It is here that Jesus for the first time appears to men as the Messiah.

Questions/Observations: John’s identification of Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” is remarkably insightful and important.

C. Day #2 of Jesus’s Public Ministry

Scripture: John 1:35-42

Notes: This passage is best taken as representative of Jesus’s ministry throughout the months summarized here. In other words, Jesus spends these months gathering to Himself the disciples of John the Baptist.


  1. Who was the second disciple in this narrative?
  2. How do you explain the curious question which these two disciples asked of Jesus after they finally caught up to Him?

D. Day #3 of Jesus’s Public Ministry

Scripture: John 1:43-51

Notes: John 1:43 speaks of Jesus “wanting to go to Galilee.” This is not the commencement of His Galilean ministry (which comes some months later); rather, it is a brief visit to Cana for a wedding feast.

Questions/Observations: Jesus’s ability to know Nathanael before meeting him is clearly an expression of omniscience; that is, it is supernatural. And yet, by John’s nomenclature, it is not a “sign” (cf. John 2:11). What is the significance of that distinction?

E. Day #5 of Jesus’s Public Ministry

Scripture: John 2:1-11

Notes: I believe the “third day” of John 2:1 is best taken as the third day after the day mentioned in John 1:43. Thus, by Jewish reckoning there are a total of five days narrated in this passage, but the narrative skips from the third day (1:43) to the fifth day (2:1, the 3rd day after the day of 1:43). The unrecorded day was a day of travel from Judea to Galilee.


  1. Notice the poignant scene of “leave-taking” between Jesus and His mother at the beginning of this narrative. It is significant that this scene occurs at Cana, and not in Nazareth.
  2. What do you think was Mary’s role at this wedding (if any)?
  3. Why do you think Mary approached Jesus with her concern over the fact that the host had run out of wine for the wedding?
  4. Notice the care Jesus took to avoid any thought that the miracle was simply slight-of-hand.
  5. Notice the significance and consequences of this sign-miracle, according to John 1:11.

Postlude: Jesus Moves His Family to Capernaum

Scripture: John 2:12

Notes: This visit to Capernaum seems to have been in anticipation of a permanent move (cf. Matthew 4:13).


  1. Notice that the move from Nazareth to Capernaum was strategic to the ministry of itinerant teaching which Jesus would commence in Galilee in a few months.
  2. This brief verse suggests that even after commencing His official public ministry, Jesus continued to be faithful to His responsibilities as the eldest son in His family.

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).