How long did Jesus live?
On September 12, 2020, the first-ever English language debate between a message pastor (Jesse Smith of Akron, OH) and an ex-message Christian (Rod Bergen from the Off The Shelf podcast) took place. The discussion was moderated by Jay Cox and Tim Kraus.
William Branham stated that Jesus was born in the spring. He also stated that Jesus lived thirty-three and a half years. But unfortunately, the math just doesn't work. Wouldn't you think if the man was a prophet, he would get it right?
What the Bible teaches
The Bible is very clear about the time of Jesus crucifixion but not about the exact time of year of Jesus birth.
The timing of Jesus' death
All four of the Gospels state that Jesus was crucified during the rule of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. The Last Supper took place on the first night of Passover, defined in the Torah as occurring after the daylight of the 14 of Nisan.
Jesus entered Jerusalem on Nisan 10 and was crucified and died at 3:00 in the afternoon of Nisan 14, at the same time the High Priest would have sacrificed the lamb, and rose before dawn the morning of Nisan 16. Judaism reckons the beginning of each day at sunset, not at midnight as is common in Western reckoning.
Passover is a spring festival, and falls on the full moon day just after the first day of spring (the vernal equinox).
The timing of Jesus' birth
Only two of the Gospels deal with the birth of Jesus (Matthew and Luke) and neither of them mention a date, time of year or the season for the birth of Jesus.
Scholars have presented arguments regarding the unlikelihood of shepherds grazing their flock during the winter challenging a winter birth for Jesus, as well as defending it by relying on the mildness of winters in ancient Israel and rabbinic rules regarding sheep near Bethlehem before February.
As a result, there is no way of determining the time of year that Jesus was born.
The problem with William Branham's math
If Jesus was born in the spring and also died in the spring (at passover), it is impossible that he died at 33.5 years of age. He would have had to have died at or close to his birthday (making the half year impossible).
Quotes of William Branham
God, may every individual here go home tonight with this on their mind, thinking of, "What a Sacrifice. What did it cost to redeem? What did it cost God?" Never cost us nothing. It cost God His Son. It cost God the greatest price. It cost Christ His life. He was the Rose of Sharon; but to get the perfume out of a rose, you have to crush it up. His beautiful life was crushed at a young Man of thirty-three and a half years, that we might live.
And in this great crucifixion time and resurrection time, how it seems to be that heaven just hangs near the earth during this time. I've always thought that Jesus' second coming would be in the spring of the year, just in all resurrection. He was born in the spring of the year. Anybody would think He was born December the 25th is mentally upset. How could the shepherds be on the hills of Judea in four foot of snow, watching their herds at night or something like that? No, the real orthodox believers don't believe that. He was born along April or May, somewhere like that in the springtime, like all other nature. He was the very Creator of nature; He come with nature. And as... And so I--I believe He was born in the spring. I don't know that He will come in the spring, but I have a feeling that it will be some beautiful spring morning when He appears. Whenever it is, I want to be ready no matter what time it is. If it's midnight, or daylight, or spring, fall, winter, wherever it is, I want to be prepared to meet Him.
And then the Bible teaches that Jesus was here on earth, and lived with us for thirty-three and a half years and ascended up. And after He... Before He went up He promised His disciples that He would send the Gospel to all the earth, and every creature should be a witness of it.
That great Jewel. What was it? It was perfect. It was at the age of thirty-three and a half years old when God put It through the big bumping machine, when He took It over and begin to shape it up. He cut It; He mashed It; He bruised It. ... he was wounded for our transgressions,... bruised for our iniquity: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with His stripes we were healed.
Not in December as the Roman church put it, the sun-god's birthday, and put it with His, up there on twenty-fifth of December, when their circuses was going on, if you've have took the--the... studied the history of the church. And you understand that they put that up there, make it... It was the sun-god's birthday, the solar, when it stops almost still. There is no change in it for five days, from December the twentieth to the twenty-fifth. They put the Son of God and the sun-god's birthday the same, compromising Christianity with paganism, made it December. He couldn't have been born on December the twenty-fifth, why, it's snow-bound mountains up there in Judaea.
He was born like all lambs are. He was born in springtime. And He had to be born under the ram, because He was a Ram, and the ram was April. Exactly. He was born under that ram. That's what He was. He was God's Ram. That was Him up there that took Isaac's place. Amen. Don't you see it?
Now that... I have chosen this... is still... because that we're in the shadows of the... or in the time of the yule season of Christmas, and--and New Year's; the ending of an old year, and the bringing in of a new one. A few days from now, many people will be turning new pages and--and doing new things and making new vows; and it's beginning of a New Year. And it never seems to me too much like Christmas. I don't know why, I always like to call it "Santa Claus Day." See? Because there's not much really...
It couldn't have been Christ's birthday. It just absolutely could not have been. He'd have had to been born in March or April, 'cause He was the Lamb. And He was a male sheep and borned in under the ram, Aries. It had to be, you see. And sheep are not born in December anyhow. Sheep are born in the Spring. And then another thing, the hills of Judea now, there's twenty feet of snow on it. How could the shepherds have been out there?
You remember when I preached The Seven Church Ages, I couldn't understand why Jesus standing there with a "white" over His head. He was a young Man. I took it back in the Bible, it said, "He came to the Ancient of Days, Whose hair was white as wool." Jesus was only thirty-three and a half years old, at His crucifixion.
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