The question is “How long was Jesus’s ministry?” You can read a good overview of the details at gotquestions.org but the short answer is, Jesus ministered as the Son of God, the Messiah, for a relatively short period of time.
I want you to think of all the people that lived on this earth before His ministry and I want you to think of all the people who have lived and will live on this earth since Jesus ascended to be with the Father. We’re talking a whole bunch and it’s not over yet because the numbers keep adding up, until He returns.
I’ve mentioned before that sometimes when I say my prayers, I try to imagine myself walking with Jesus, where there’s just the two of us and I am speaking with Him. I’ve even gone to the extent of reminding Jesus how special it was for the Apostles because they actually got to see Him perform miracles and actually hear the words that came out of His mouth. Can you imagine being able to put your hand on His arm and can you imagine His embrace. Imagine, if you will, having your questions answered, one on one. Yes, I’m using the word “imagine” because we don’t have that physical contact anymore.
Yet Jesus told us that even though He was leaving to go to the Father, that He would be with us, until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). You’ll also recall that after Jesus was resurrected He was able to appear in a room instantly that had locked doors (John 20:19 NIV) and appear at a particular place (Mark 14:28 NIV), whenever He wanted. So, I do believe that Jesus is with us, because He is not restricted to time, or the physical dimension that we are in and that He is acutely aware of all that we are going through and the longing that we have to be in His presence. And, because He walked in this flesh, He knows the limitations that it presents and understands better than anyone, the necessity of staying in union with His Father. That’s why you read so often how Jesus went away by Himself so that He could spent time in prayer with His Father. So yes, Jesus does understand our limitations and He does understand our needs.
Then, of course, there is the silence, because not only can we not see Him or touch Him but we also can’t hear Him. Not in the usual sense that one hears words being spoken out of a mouth and we hear them in our ears. That too can be difficult. Yet, as one draws close to God in prayer, where we pour out our heart to Him as truthfully and earnestly as we can, that spiritual union between our Holy God and ourselves manifests itself and we sense in our inner spirit that we are near to one another. I had a beautiful time with God yesterday and as only He can do, He let me know I am His and He is mine. I didn’t see anything nor did I hear anything but He was there. My prayers aren’t always like that. Sometimes all I hear is my own words and there is no awareness of His closeness, but when I take the time to earnestly seek Him and His presence, because I feel a need to experience His presence, He meets me.
Revelation 3:20 NIV “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Sharing a meal in Old and New Testament times was personal, special, intimate and that’s exactly what Jesus offers us, today, now.
The Holy Spirit will sometimes speak to me, tell me something, give me direction or assurance, but most times He is silent too. And as I have come to understand, these times when the Spirit of Christ within me makes Himself known to me, are not only rare but they are almost always totally unexpected and very often 180 degrees out of sync from what I in and of myself would do. And, to His glory, they can be 100 percent Him and nothing of me, where He does a work and I am just the means that He uses. These also are very rare but wondrous to behold. So I’ve tasted and like Jesus says, nothing is impossible with God.
So, that small window of time, that “about three years”, is in reality just a sliver of time where He was with us in the flesh, and now, just like in the Old Testament where the patriarchs of old looked forward to the coming redeemer Messiah, we also look forward to His return. And the faith that they had is the exact same faith that we have in Him. God the Father, in His wisdom and love, sent us His Son, to make the way known, to do for us what we in ourselves could never do and that is in fact, exactly what Jesus did.
John 6:29 NIV “Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
John 14:6 NIV “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:8-10 NIV “Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”
And then, after His resurrection, John 20:24-29 NIV “Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus told us that it was good that He was going to the Father. In John 16:7 NIV Jesus says “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.“
Can you imagine the loss that the Apostles felt, because they had been in the presence of Jesus, touched Him, heard Him, when He was with them no more in the flesh and when He had ascended to the Father after His resurrection? Yet they believed what they had seen and heard and Jesus tells us that we are blessed because we believe and we have not seen.
Yes there is silence, yes there is no physical Jesus to see, but He is there and He is here with you and here with me. His Holy Spirit within us will bear witness to His presence within us, to our spirit and we can share a meal with Him. Never forget, there is a bigger feast to come!
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!