Bethany Beyond the Jordan

Unpredictable weather can always dampen ones plans and this day some of our adventures were literally washed away! The average rain fall for the desert of Jordan is roughly 4 inches a year. During our visit to Jordan the skies poured down on the Red Sea area making the roads unsafe to travel on so no Red Sea for us. Life is always full of blessings as this allows more time to enjoy the sites we visit and time to enjoy our two days at our five star spa hotel!

We were blessed to celebrate Mass on the banks of the Jordan River, to renew our baptism vows near the site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. 
Over the years there has been controversy between Jordan and Palestine concerning the exact location of the site of Jesus’ baptism.  During the late sixties the banks of Jordan became a battle frontline laden with mines.  In 1994 a peace treaty was signed and the majority of the mines were removed. Removal of the mines on the banks of the Jordan side opened the area to excavation begining in 1996. In an area that was once a clean, clear water tributary of the Jordan baptism ponds and church remains were found. In 2015 Bethany over Jordan was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the site of the Baptism of Jesus thus quieting but not ending the dispute.

Our priest preparing to celebrate Mass on the Jordan side, the green vegetation behind him is Israel.

The area is peaceful and calm with the exceptions of flies that are annoying us, I once heard flies are the devil attempting to distract us from our goal… humm… We were seated in a covered area that protected us from the blaring sun yet the stifling air was melting us. Father began Mass and called down the Holy Spirit, I felt a wave of air bring a moment of coolness that shooed away the flies. Towards the end of Mass we renewed our baptismal vows, rededicating our lives to God in the very area that John the Baptist baptized Jesus thus consecrating the sacrament of baptism. Here Elijah was taken in to heaven. Here Joshua entered the Promised Land crossing the Jordan. Here Jesus opened the way to heaven by entering into this water. Here Jesus invited us to participate in His victory over sin and death. Here He called us to our own personal holiness and to share our faith as His disciple. Here I renewed my baptismal vows as a child of God. Today we walked away from this site reminded of our freedom from sin and our incorporation into the Church because of the scarifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Our desire for a more intimate relationship with God was strenghened, our desire to turn away from the stirings of the enemy and to hear the desire of God grew.

After Mass we took a moment to put our feet in the waters of the Jordan then walked over to the site believed to be where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

Mable steps leading to the cruciform baptismal pool

The archaeological sites reveales remains of five churches built on this site as memorials to Jesus baptism. The mosaic map of Madaba, the oldest known geographic floor mosaic, indicates this as the site of Jesus baptism.  Marble steps discovered and preserved recently closely match with what was described over 1400 years ago. These facts verify this as the actual spot where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

Shhh, don’t tell anyone that our guide allowed us to walk down the marble steps, down in to the cruciform baptismal pool. This honor is normally reserved for dignitaries, Mums the word okay.

This was a goosebump day. A stirring reminder of Gods infinite love for us. A day that will be with me always.

God is Good all the time. All the time God is Good!

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