Testimonies: New Testament

beyond the jordan
beyond the jordan

In Christianity and the story of Jesus, Bethany is of major significance as the place where Jesus was baptized by John. This marked a major event in Christianity and the area has since been important to the faithful; it lies along a pilgrimage route from Jerusalem to Mount Nebo and churches and monasteries have been built here since the time of Christ. The following are references to Bethany and the river Jordan found in the New Testament.

Years go by and John the Baptist appeared here in this place.

"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, end Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness." (Luke 3: 1-2)

John the Baptist was the last prophet of the Ancient Testa­ment and the first apostle of the New Testament. He prea­ched repentance to prepare the people for the coming of Christ.

"He went into the entire region around the Jordan. Pro­claiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah Is40/3):
The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare of the lord,
Make his paths straight Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." (Luke 3: 3-6)

John baptized in the Jordan and in the neighboring springs. His baptism symbolized repentance and con­version to God. He made Bethany beyond the Jordan (the east bank of the river) his 'headquarters'. He rested and slept in a grotto near the source of Wadi Al-Kharrar and near the grotto of the prophet Elijah. The disciples of Jesus wondered why Elijah did not come as the Precursor whom Malachi named:

"Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents ..." (Ml 4: 5)

They asked Jesus "why the scribes say that Elijah must come first? He replied: "Elijah is indeed coming and will restore oil things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands." Then the disciple unders­tood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist." (Mt 17: 10-13)