Jesus’ earthly life was relatively short-lived, but His influence is long-lasting. For Him, it took only three and half years of earthly ministry to bring that eternal legacy to His followers, imparting the whole world with the good news of salvation to all mankind.
The Bible does not specifically mention Jesus’ age when He died — what we know is that Jesus began His ministry when He was about 30 years old (Luke 3:23).
Most scholars believe that the length of Jesus’ public ministry was approximately three and a half years, according to the estimated year that John the Baptist began his ministry (in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign, as revealed in Luke 3:1) and the number of the Jewish festivals (i.e., Passover feasts) that Jesus attended.
It is believed that Jesus’ ministry, from His baptism to His ascension, took place between AD 29–33. In this case, it can be inferred that Jesus died when He was between 33 and 34 years old.
However, some also believe that Jesus was somewhere between 33 and 39 years old when He died (Ibid.), depending on the exact date of His birth and the year He commenced His public ministry.
Either way, it is safe to conclude that Jesus died before he was 40 years old, which may be considered the most productive or prime working age for a human.
Recorded Biblical Ages
According to the Bible (Genesis 5), Methuselah was the longest-living man (969 years old), followed by Jared (962), Noah (950), Adam (930), Seth (912), Kenan (910), Enos (905), Mahalalel (895), Lamech (777), and Enoch (365) — all of these men were alive before the Flood.
Moses revealed in his prayer: “The days of our lives are 70 years; and if by reason of strength they are 80 years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10).
However, God granted him a longer life than what he prayed for as he died at the age of 120 (Deuteronomy 34:7).
Meanwhile, David was 30 years old when he became king, and he died at the age of 70 after reigning for 40 years (2 Samuel 5:4).
It is fair to say that, in comparison to these men, Jesus’ lifespan on earth was relatively short. However, this points to a more profound truth because age is not just a number.
The Brevity of Life
We need to embrace this reality: longevity is not promised — some are blessed with it, some aren’t. However, in the light of eternity, all earthly lives are short-lived.
Scripture reveals this very clearly:
How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog — it’s here a little while, then it’s gone (James 4:14, NLT).
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! (Psalm 39:5, ESV).
All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever (Isaiah 40:6-8, ESV).
Is the meaning of life found in how long we live? It is not, I believe. If it were so, many would have lived in vain.
The Meaning of Life Found in Jesus
First and foremost, the meaning of life is ultimately found in the Author of Life Himself. The Bible reveals this mystery: Jesus Christ is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27) and the Creator of all things (John 1:1-4, Colossians 1:15-17, Hebrews 1:1-2).
Christians, we worship a sovereign God, who gives and takes away freely according to His will. Jesus reveals His deity when He says,
“No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded” (John 10:18, NLT).
Jesus promises that everyone who believes in Him “shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). And He demonstrates His power to fulfill His promise through His resurrection.
Death could not hold Him. Christ’s resurrection is the ultimate hope for all mankind. All who believe in Him shall have no fear in death.
Moreover, all who believe in Jesus not only have eternal life, but also abundant life (John 10:10).
Why Is Jesus’ Age When He Died Significant?
Age is not just a number, but it represents the authority and sovereignty of the Life-Giver. Age should not only be a number that represents how long we have lived but more significantly, how well we have lived according to the purpose of our Creator.
Jesus’ earthly life was relatively short-lived, but His influence is long-lasting. For Him, it took only three and half years of earthly ministry to bring that eternal legacy to His followers, imparting the whole world with the good news of God’s love and salvation to all mankind.
“His life provides a perfect example for us today to live as those focused on God’s priorities and honoring the Lord with our lives.” The 30 plus years of Christ’s earthly life represent the best offering a man could present to God.
We could also learn from Moses, who fulfilled God’s purpose to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and record God’s law. It was told that Moses still had strength and vitality when he died (Deuteronomy 34:7). Moses died because God had completed what He had planned for him.
This is also true for David: “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed” (Acts 13:36).
Why Does This Matter?
As we realize the brevity of life, may we also remember in our prayers, asking the Lord: “so teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
We need to live by the Spirit’s power as instructed by God through Paul in his letter:
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:15-20, NLT).
May our days, whether long or short, be filled with the joy of knowing God and the pleasure of living a life that brings delight, honor, and glory to Him.