Visiting Bethany Past the Jordan: The place Jesus was Baptized

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Bethany Past the Jordan was a non secular expertise my lapsed Catholic self was not anticipating.

It jogged my memory that whereas I don’t consider in non secular constructs, I all the time have believed in and preferred Jesus and his teachings of kindness, acceptance, and love. 

St John the Baptist Church and the Jordan River

Not solely was I raised Catholic and attended Catholic faculties, however I additionally acquired my educating diploma on the Catholic College and taught in Catholic faculties.

However since I’m not working towards, I wasn’t within the “it is a huge deal” form of pondering. The truth is, I believed it was going to be essentially the most uninteresting a part of our Jordan Escape by Globus tour.

Properly, the sacred power of this Holy Land instantly snuck into my nonchalant perspective and grounded me down right into a non secular expertise.

Being on the place the place Jesus was baptized by St John the Baptist (the identify of the college I attended) was fairly monumental and transferring.

man at the edge of the water at jesus baptism pool

In a lifetime of journey experiences by way of over 50 nations, that is one that may sit with excessive definition readability on the prime of my reminiscence field. It’s a hidden gem of Jordan. No make that the Center East. No make that the World.

In reflection, I solely want I soaked it up extra.

Many occasions with my travels, it’s in wanting again the place I really feel the true worth of the expertise. I all the time surprise, “Why didn’t I embrace this totally on the time?”

Do you discover that usually with your self?

I believe presumably as your 5 senses are taking the whole lot in directly, it’s onerous to course of it on the time and perceive what it means or the way it’s transferring you.

That’s why making time for reflection is so beneficial – and our recollections are so treasured. As we are saying,

“Journey Extra. Create Higher Reminiscences.” (and be taught to be a greater human.)

What’s Bethany Past the Jordan?

A sign with Jesus baptism site in the background
The place Jesus was baptized

Al-Maghtas, in any other case often called Bethany Past the Jordan, has been a spot of pilgrimage for Christians since St John the Baptist performed his ministry and baptized Jesus of Nazareth.

This pristine wilderness is on the jap again of the River Jordan, about 9km /5.5 miles north of the Lifeless Sea and close to Mt Nebo the place Moses confirmed the Israelites the Promised Land.

The Baptism Archeological Park can also be a nationwide park and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Web site in 2015. 

crumbling remains of old buldings in the desert
St John’s Cave space

There are two areas on this archaeological web site:

  1. Inform Al-Kharrar, often known as Jabal Mar-Elias (Elijah’s Hill)
  2. The world of the church buildings of Saint John the Baptist close to the Jordan River.

These two areas are linked by a stream known as Wadi Kharrar, which is the place it’s believed Jesus was baptized.

I promise you there’s a sacred power right here. 

The Historical past of Jesus’ Baptismal Web site (and the way it went lacking!!)

man walking through a desert landscape with dark clouds

Are you able to consider this unbelievable historic web site form of went lacking throughout for just a few centuries? It was solely rediscovered about twenty years in the past.

As historical past is wish to do, ruling energy modified and across the 14th Century, the realm returned to the management of native tribes. East of the Jordan river was not a protected place to go to and so the pilgrims stopped coming.

With the invention of the (close by) Madaba Map in 1897, pilgrims began to return hoping to seek out clues to the situation of the baptismal web site.

The location as soon as once more grew to become a no-go space with the 2 World Wars and the Palestinian – Israeli battle.

huge church building with towers and domes
One of many church buildings on this space

As soon as the 1994 Peace Treaty was signed, he space which was stuffed with mines, started the method of demining, which opened the way in which for archaeological investigations.

Archeologists have uncovered a wealth of web sites that embrace Byzantine church buildings, baptismal swimming pools from the Roman and Byzantine intervals, caves of monks and hermits, and lodges for pilgrims.

The overwhelming biblical, archeological, and historic proof has led many non secular leaders all through the world to acknowledge this location because the genuine web site of Jesus’ baptism.

Our information spoke typically, and with profound respect, as to how this space is protected and managed by the Kingdom of Jordan, a predominantly Muslim nation.

I keep in mind feeling an identical awe attending ANZAC Day in Gallipoli, Turkey. I used to be humbled and in awe of how a lot the Turkish individuals do to assist us honor our fallen troopers who invaded their land.

There’s extra honor, love, and forgiveness on this world than you notice.

Tour of the Baptism Archeological Park

a group of people walking down a sandy trail with shady trees
The tranquil path to the Baptismal Web site

The location is open year-round and prices a modest entry payment which features a one hour guided tour (select from 7 totally different languages) and a obligatory shuttle bus trip. Excursions depart bout each half-hour.

The ticket workplace is on the Guests’ Centre, which has loads of parking.

All non-public automobiles are prohibited throughout the archaeological zone so an electrical minibus brings guests to their alternative of three totally different websites: Inform Mar Elias, the Baptism Swimming pools and John the Baptist’s Church.

Alternatively, you may stroll the two.5km from the Customer Centre to Inform Mar Elias, then alongside the south financial institution of the Wadi Kharrar for an additional 2km to John the Baptist’s Church and the Jordan River. Our information mentioned this was very lovely.

Remember that this space is situated proper close to the Lifeless Sea, in different phrases, the bottom level on earth, at over 350m under sea degree. This implies a dry, sizzling setting with little shade.

We visited throughout winter so had nice temperatures.

Permit for 2-3 hours to tour the location.

man leading a group tour at Elijah's hill
Our tour information, Rustom Mkhjian

Our Globus tour, group had a non-public tour with Rustom Mkhjian, the Director Common of Bethany Past the Jordan.

He enthusiastically shared with us the historical past of this space, stating notable websites as we toured, and the way they confirmed proof that this was the true web site of Jesus’ baptism.

We visited early within the morning and had the place to ourselves. I’m so grateful as our expertise was that of a deeply peaceable meditative place good for contemplation, exploration, and studying.

There have been just a few individuals arriving as we left, however the experiences I’ve learn of Bethany Past the Jordan is that it’s a peaceable expertise with out chaotic crowds.

We began our tour at Elijah Hill after which proceeded to the baptismal web site after which all the way down to the river Jordan.

However first let me begin with essentially the most transferring expertise.

Baptismal Web site of Jesus at Bethany Past the Jordan

Beyond the bethany where jesus was baptized
The place Jesus was baptized. Word it’s formed like a cross

Jesus’ baptismal web site is believed to be within the springs of Wadi al-Kharrar, which flows to the Jordan. They assume the River Jordan was too harmful and murky to carry out baptisms.

We took a bus from Elijah Hill all the way down to the baptismal space, the place adopted a meandering and tranquil lined strolling path.

I used to be instantly overcome by a quiet, all-knowing non secular power, feeling the sacred web site earlier than I noticed it.

The crumbling stays of church buildings and chapels right here signify (primarily based on bible and pilgrim accounts) that this was the spot. Discover within the picture above how the baptismal pool is formed like a cross.

As we had been there early earlier than the crowds and on a non-public tour organized by Globus, Rustom allowed us to stroll down the traditional steps to the unique water degree and bless ourselves with it.

woman touching the water at Jesus baptism pool
Superb expertise

Being on the entrance of the road, I used to be pressured I used to be going to mess this up, however fortunately, I remembered to make the signal of the cross. My years of church attendance not utterly misplaced on me.

It was solely later that it hit me how monumental it was to be on the place the place some of the well-known, influential, and traditionally important figures of all human historical past was baptized.

Even an atheist would respect the magnitude of a second like that.

I want I spent much less time grappling with my cellphone to seize the essence and extra time standing silently to soak all of it up.

I like to recommend taking your time in quiet reflection on this spot.

Actually take into consideration Jesus’ true message of kindness, acceptance, tolerance and love. He was a pal to ALL.

As our information Ruston saved reminding us,

“It’s as much as every of us to construct bridges of affection and peace”

 (You can see more in this Reel)

Elijah’s Hill – Inform Mar Elias

a stone arch marking the spot of Elijah Hill
Elijah Hill

Inform Mar Elias, or Elijah’s Hill, is the place it mentioned the prophet Elijah rose into the heavens on a fiery chariot within the ninth Century BC.

It’s marked by a rebuilt arch representing the Fifth- to Sixth-century pilgrim chapel. Pope John Paul II authenticated Bethany Past the Jordan right here in 2000.

The small hill has the ruins of three church buildings, three caves and three baptism swimming pools, accessible by a wood catwalk.

Close by is a Third-century rectangular prayer corridor, one of many earliest Christian locations of worship ever found. Additionally close by is a system of water channels, swimming pools, a properly, and a big cistern with its authentic plastered inside

The location and the encompassing space has been a spot the place many Prophets have handed by way of. 

St John’s Cave

a small cave surrounded by rubble
St John the Baptist’s Cave

On the western aspect of Elijah’s Hill, is a small cave the place John lived, and the place Jesus was identified to go to him.

That is thought of a really Holy web site and subsequently a church was constructed across the cave, which you’ll see the stays of.

Right here, you may also see the Rhotorios Monastery with a number of church buildings and different buildings, all inside a surrounding wall. The doorway within the northern wall results in the residing quarters of the monks. The mosaic ground features a cross made from diamond shapes and a Greek inscription relationship it to the time of Rhotorious.

plaque describing rhotorios monastery

It was the primary monastery east of the Jordan River on the early Christian pilgrimage route between Jerusalem and Mount Nebo.

One other important level is that in the course of the interval of Islamic rule, monks lived within the monastery performing their each day duties freely, portraying the form of coexistence between Christians and Muslims that’s nonetheless the case in modern-day Jordan.

Visually the location is similar to how it could have appeared within the time of Jesus and John.

Church of St John the Baptist

From the baptismal pool, you may stroll all the way down to the precise Jordan River.

The presence of a number of church buildings on this space – for eons – is one other piece of proof used to establish that that is the sacred baptismal spot.

Why else would they dedicate so many assets to construct church after church right here?

Probably the most well-known is the attractive domed Greek Orthodox Church of St John the Baptist, constructed on Byzantine ruins in 2003 proper close to the Jordan River. The Byzantine‐type frescos inside are gorgeous, particularly the Jesus Christ one on the ceiling underneath the dome.

jesus fresco inside church
The within of St John the Baptist Church

Jordan River, on the Israeli – Jordan border

baptismal font at the river jordan
Baptismal font on the River Jordan

Stroll out the church door to the banks of the Jordan River.

Large Israeli and Palestinian flags wave above a platform on the West Financial institution web site, Qasr Al Yahud, one other widespread place for pilgrims to go to.

Close by Jericho in Israel was thought of the place of Jesus’ baptism earlier than the uncovering of Bethany Past the Jordan.

small jordna river with building and flags of isreal and palestine flying
Israeli aspect of the Jordan

With its thicket of reeds and tamarisk bushes lining the banks and surrounding birdsong, it feels extra like a tropical jungle down right here than the desert.

There’s not rather a lot to see, it’s extra like a murky creek than a river. What enamored me essentially the most had been the gum timber alongside the river.

gum tree and reeds by the river jordan
The River Jordan – good day gum tree

Apparently, on account of mines, that is the one place in Jordan the place you may get entry the Jordan River.

Regardless of warnings, individuals do carry out baptisms within the river. As an alternative, there’s a font of water from the river the place pilgrims renew baptismal guarantees.

Pilgrims to the location can request a spiritual ceremony at both of the 2 new baptism swimming pools which were constructed alongside Inform Mar Elias, or on the historical Giant Baptism Pool halfway alongside the wadi.

Attending to Bethany Past the Jordan

brick sculpture with mural of john baptizing jesus
John Baptizes Jesus

The location is about an hour west of Amman, on the border with the Palestinian Territories. You will get a taxi from Amman, lease a automobile, or take a minibus to Madaba. Check rental car prices here.

It’s fairly straightforward to get a taxi from the Lifeless Sea or Madaba, each are comparatively shut.

Whereas on this space, go to the opposite notable close by websites within the Holy Land: Madaba, Mt Nebo, and the Dead Sea.


MULTI-DAY TOURS OF JORDAN (consists of Bethany Past the Jordan)

The place to remain close to Bethany Past the Jordan

view of turquoise water of Dead Sea from Movenpick Resort
View of the Lifeless Sea from Movenpick Resort

As this space is close to Lifeless Sea, my suggestion is to remain there. It’s a surprising place, it’s close to lots of the Holy Land websites, and also you get to swim within the Lifeless Sea.

I Beloved, cherished, cherished the Movenpick Resort Dead Sea – incredible facilities, swimming swimming pools, and views with your personal non-public seaside on the Lifeless Sea.

Extra Jordan journey ideas

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Visiting Bethany Beyond the Jordan: Where Jesus was Baptized

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