Why was Jesus crucified at the age of 33?

A student asked us: “Is there anything specific about the year 33 of Jesus’s life that led him to be crucified on this year?” (Mr Simkins)

Answer given by pastor Christian Salcianu, 18th July 2023, Watford

The Scripture is not very specific on some details that we would have thought of as interesting, for example, how tall was Jesus, what was the colour of His eyes, what year and month and day was He born in etc. Related to His age, we are told about the approximate age when He was baptised.

‘Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.’ (Luke 3:23)

The age of thirty has a specific relevance if we remember the Levites (and most probably priests as well) were accepted in the work of the Lord only when they reached the age of 30 (Numbers 4:3, 4:23). Joseph in the Old Testament ‘was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt’ (Genesis 41:46). Saul was 30 years of age when he became the first king of Israel (1 Samuel 13:1). King David? You guessed it: 30 years of age (2 Samuel 5:4). A prophet like Ezekiel entered the service of the Lord at the same age (Ezekiel 1:1). Obviously, John the Baptist, who was only 6 months older than Jesus (Luke 1:26), started his own ministry at the age of 30 as well.

We know Jesus worked for three and a half years, as during this period He visited Jerusalem and participated at four Passover festivals: the first one being mentioned in John 2:13, and the last one in John 12:1, and in between see the mentioning in 5:1 and 6:4.

Jesus’ ministry extended to three and a half years — and that is also a clear symbol taken from the Old Testament:

see Elijah’s experience, when he prayed and ‘it did not rain on the land for three and a half years’ (James 5:17).

see the persecution of God’s people in both Daniel 7 and Revelation 12 or 13 – we spoke about this period in this post, Three and a half years of persecution — Is that literal?

see the three and a half days (years) in Revelation 11:9 and 11:11 for the two witnesses of God. See a video resource on this topic on our YouTube channel.

see the death and resurrection of Messiah in Daniel 9:24-29, which took place at the middle of a special prophetic week of seven years, that is 3.5 years — for this we suggest you take the Focus on Prophecy course from ADC.

see the symbol in different forms of expression (units):

Why was Jesus crucified at the age of 33?

Reviewing the list of symbols, key people and events in the Bible, we can then answer with specific reasons, such as the prophecy in Daniel 9, and also with generic ones, such as a symbol of the great controversy, battles or persecutions or crises taking place for such a length (3.5 years).

A very inspiring passage comes from the book Desire of Ages (on the life of Jesus), highlighting something peculiar about that length of time:

‘Jesus had now given three years of public labour to the world. His example of self-denial and disinterested benevolence was before them. His life of purity, of suffering and devotion, was known to all. Yet this short period of three years was as long as the world could endure the presence of its Redeemer.’

(Desire of Ages, p. 541)

‘As long as the world could endure…’

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