Imagine being a person who came back to life 2000 years after you were born, and finding out that half the world celebrates every aspect of your previous life, including the day and place where you committed to a life of service by being baptised. That would be pretty mind-blowing I think.

Now imagine being a child going to Sunday School and hearing stories of that same man, how he lived the people he hung out with, and the difficulties he had with people not liking what he was saying to the masses. A small child with an imagination, and with the help of some graphic novels, might wonder what it was like to live in a place far away where everyone wore sandals, and walked through dusty deserts with snakes and scorpions. A place far from where you live, in a very different time.

Envisage going to the place where all this happened and you’d be close to the feeling I had when we reached the River Jordan.

Covered walkway to the Jordan River

Covered walkway to the Jordan River

The River Jordan is not a place I craved to visit. When planning for a trip to Jordan, I wanted to visit Petra and was intrigued by seeing Wadi Rum, but biblical sites were not high on my agenda, not because I have no interest in them, quite the opposite, but because I immediately associate biblical sites with Israel, not Jordan. This of course is quite ignorant of me, but to be fair, Israel does have a better hype game when it comes to claiming religious tourism. The opportunity to visit The River Jordan, arose on the final day of our Jordan Tour, thanks to our guide Ibrahim and we jumped at it. It was more than I expected, it was beautiful and evocative, and I even managed to secure a little piece of the land as a souvenir, as well as the images that I made there, I will never forget my Jordan Rover experience.

Bethany Beyond the Jordan a World Heritage site

Like most tourist sites in Jordan, there is a wonderful visitor centre at the entrance, where you can purchase your tickets and see exhibits explaining what you’re about to experience. It’s at the visitor centre that you board a bus that will take you to the destination, along with the obligatory stop to spend some money at the souvenir shop. I picked up some Jordan dirt and a beautiful silver and haematite rosary there.

The site of Jesus’ Baptism is a good few hundred meters away from where the river currently runs. The place is marked and although at first glance it seemed underwhelming, especially since there’s very little water there, it’s significant that all three branches of the study of the area, historical, archaeological and biblical, confirm the spot as historically accurate.

Baptism place of Jesus Christ, Jordan

Baptism place of Jesus Christ, Jordan

Shall we Gather at the river

I was mesmerised when we got to the spot where the river currently runs, we could hear singing, and upon further discovery, we could see hundreds of people across the river bank, all dressed in white, getting baptised on the west bank the river, it was an amazing experience standing and watching the proceedings. It was quite overwhelming, even for me who is not a practising Christian.

You can visit the churches, and walk around the area close to the river bank, there was no big rush to get back to the shuttle buses, though be prepared for some walking and the heat. The covered walkways provide some shelter but it was still quite intense even at the time that we visited. Altogether Bethany Beyond is a site well worth putting on your Jordan Tour.

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