Chronological Life of Jesus From Perspective Of His Initiating Apostolic (Cross-Cultural) Ministry.
Dann Spader of Sonlife Ministries points out that one useful way of viewing the life of Jesus is to line up the four Gospels in rough chronological order by aligning the major festivals mentioned in the gospels and any other common elements, and then mark off the stages of ministry by the number of disciples Jesus had in training at the time.
Of course this is at best a guesstimate, and in the end many choices must be made by each reader as to where some of the divisions might lie, but by using the Nelson Gospel Parallels book, and a bit of jockeying, a rough series of "Stages" emerges.
Dann notes that a whole new perspective is gained into Jesus work if we pay attention to the geometric growth of Jesus training efforts...(from 4 to 12 to 72 etc.), as it might give us a clue to his process. He feels that Jesus spent one half of his three year ministry dealing with 4 disciples (within a crowd of general listeners), at which point he got 8 more and used the original 4 to help train them. When that stage of work was done, he brought the number up to 72, thereby giving each of the twelve some pairs to work with and train, while he trained his original 4 and their pairs of mentees on how to do such work...All of which sounds to me like an early pyramid scheme.
Viewing the Gospel narrative this way gives a quite different picture of Jesus' Life and work than the approach which looks at the four gospel accounts as independent accounts of the same life, and interpreting the differing and duplicated stories merely as variations of the same events. For example, the staging view looks at Jesus clearing out the Temple twice...like bookends on his ministry...on at the first when he had four (fledgling) disciples, and once at the end when he had rolled into Jerusalem three years later with 500 or so disciples. The other approach merely writes off the differences as duplicate stories. How we hear the message of the Gospel text is profoundly affected by how we view the four Gospel records, depending on how we view the context in which such events take place.
I have chosen to use Dann's approach of aligning the Gospel texts as I find it to be the most helpful in understanding the nature of Apostolic (Cross-Cultural) Ministry in today's world, and opens up for me a greater abundance of insights and resources for that task. My two forthcoming Historical Fiction Novels are based on this arrangement of the Gospel Narratives, and were written to see how such an arrangement would play out in fictional form. My guess at the divisions of the Gospel texts are as follows:
Stages Of Training The Initial Apostles (Cross-Cultural Ministers)
- "Personal Beginnings" Stage - "Life Of Jesus Prior To His Three Years Of Ministry
- "Solo" Stage - "Jesus' Initial Work Prior To Starting His Training Process "
- "One-Shot Outings" Stage - "Jesus' One-Shot Mini-Outings Work "
- "Four Disciple Training" Stage - "Jesus' Initial Training Of The Initial Four Disciples "
- "Twelve Disciple Training" Stage - "Jesus' Expansion of Training to Twelve Disciples [Whom He Calls Apostles] "
- "Seventy-Two Deiciple Training" Stage - "Jesus' Further Expansion of Training To Seventy-Two Disciples "
- "120/500 Disciple Training" Stage - "Jesus Rolls Into Jerusalem At the 120-500 Disciples Level Of Expansion "
- "500 Disciple Training" Stage - "Jesus' Process Reaches the 500 Disciple Level of Expansion "
- "3000 Disciple Training" Stage - "Jesus' Process Reaches the 3000 Disciple Level of Expansion "