It’s difficult to know the exact location of Jesus’ baptism. Like most of us, John wondered why Jesus had asked to be baptized. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. The Madaba mosaic is the oldest known map of the Holy Land, which places Jesus' baptism in present-day Jordan. Jesus was right here to be baptized. So let’s let Matthew guide us in answering the question: Why did Jesus insist on being baptized by John? The Father spoke from heaven. He came to John to be baptized, but John told him, "I need to be baptized by you." But across the river, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, there is a rival — not just laying claim to Jesus' baptism site but also to millions of dollars in annual tourist revenue. To be baptized in the same place where Jesus was baptized, is a uniquely spiritual moment for the Christian believer. "It's not a competition issue, please don't misunderstand," says Mkhjian. The Baptism of Jesus Christ, described in all four Gospels, took place in the Jordan River, just a few miles north of the Dead Sea and roughly six miles east of Jericho. Today, the nearly 156 miles of the Jordan River flow southward from Mount Hermon, located on the border of modern-day Syria and Lebanon, and drain into the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. NPR International Correspondent Daniel Estrin contributed reporting from Jerusalem. 8. A worker cleaning debris from the gravel approaches him to matter-of-factly give him a coin he has just found – possibly Byzantine or Roman — to be sent to the site's small museum. On the banks of the Jordan River where the Bible says Jesus was baptized, 15-foot-high reeds rustle in the wind. 2. "The dispute isn't essentially about the authenticity of the site," says Jordan's Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, the chief multifaith religious adviser to King Abdullah II. Israel also claims a similar spot on the west side of the river. In fact, the Jordan River is a major setting for two major Old Testament stories. The Jordan River. Orthodox Church Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III tosses a bouquet of basil into the Jordan River, at Qasr al-Yahud, a baptism site near the West Bank city of Jericho, on Jan. 18. The West Bank, home to more than 3 million Palestinians and hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers, remains under Israeli occupation. It is worth noting that both Old Testament river crossings, mentioned above, took place at a similar location on the Jordan River, east of Jericho and a few miles north of the Dead Sea, very close to where John would later minister, and Jesus would later be baptized. The apostle John writes: ...there he stayed, and many people came to him. Qasr al-Yahud is the original baptism site that was … We can look to the very words of Jesus for the answer to this question: Jesus was baptized because it was necessary for the fulfillment of all righteousness (Matthew 3:15).Jesus truly took our place in every way as the ultimate atonement for sin and death. But we are talking about the witness of John. Most evidence, however, points to the eastern side, the Jordanian side, being the actual site of Bethany beyond the Jordan, John’s ministry, and Jesus’ baptism. Prince Ghazi, a first cousin of the king, developed the site of Bethany Beyond the Jordan in the 1990s. So in many ways, this specific location on the Jordan River had both symbolic and strategic significance—of which John the Baptist would have been well aware. After the miraculous crossing, Joshua took 12 stones from banks of the river and placed them in the middle of the river where the priests had stood to mark the place where God had intervened and once again use his miraculous power in Israel’s favor (Joshua 4:1-9). The baptism of Jesus in 26 AD puts the timeline of Jesus life clearly in the crosshairs of the 70 Weeks of Daniel prophecy. Jordanian workers at Jordan's baptism site cleaning up after a recent flood. The huge site has been left deliberately largely pristine, dotted with bulrushes and palm trees. In fact, John the Baptist recognizes that Jesus does not need to be baptized (Matthew 3:14). Though, in recent months, both the Jordanian and Israeli-run sites have been empty of visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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