It was usual for Jews from Galilee to journey to Jerusalem for one or another of a three great festivals of the year—Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.

The Early Days of Jesus.
Image source: © Carta, Jerusalem

Luke tells how Jesus at the age of twelve was taken to Jerusalem at Passover, and how, when he went missing, he was found in discussion with some of the “scribes” or experts in the Jewish law who set up “schools” in the outer court of the temple at festival times, when Jerusalem was crowded with pilgrims.

Before Jesus began his public ministry, John the Baptist appeared. John, the son of a Judean priest, grew up to manhood in the wilderness of Judea where, about AD 27, he called the nation to repent. His preaching was powerful; he drew crowds from all parts of the country. Repentance was urgent, he said, because of the near approach of a person to whom he referred as the Coming One.

The Coming One was going to carry out the divine judgment which would mark the end of the present age of wickedness and begin the coming age of righteousness. John’s hearers were invited to show they had truly repented by being baptized by him in the Jordan.

This was the setting in which Jesus’ public activity began when he, for purposes of his own, asked John to baptize him and was assured, by a voice from heaven, that he was the Coming One whose way John was preparing. This assurance was confirmed by Jesus’ experiences during the following forty days of fasting and testing. The traditional “Mount of Temptation” where he had those experiences is shown north-west of modern Jericho (due west of Tell es-Sultan).