Before the beginning of Christ’s ministry, John the Baptist began preaching that the Messiah would soon come, and he baptized all who acknowledged their sins and repented. When Jesus came to John for baptism, John protested his unworthiness, and did so only on Jesus’ insistence.
Every year following the Epiphany, all the Faithful celebrate this holy event as the Feast of Baptism of the Lord. While the Bible mentions the Jordan River, where exactly was Jesus baptized?
“He came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.'” – Matthew 3:16-17
Both the Gospels of Matthew and Mark offer some clues to where Jesus was baptized. In both accounts, John the Baptist was performing baptisms in the Jordan River, a place easily accessible to those from all of Judea and Jerusalem. In the Gospel of John, a town called Bethany across the Jordan River is specifically mentioned to be the site where John the Baptist began his preaching.
Not to be confused with the village of Bethany east of Jerusalem, where Mary lived, Bethany is a small village on the east bank of the Jordan River, near Jericho. Today, this place is called Al-Maghtas, meaning baptism in Arabic, and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Tradition considers the baptismal pools found there during an archaeological dig site to be the original location of the Baptism of Jesus.
Every year on January 6, thousands flock to the very place Jesus Himself was baptized to commemorate the Epiphany and the Baptism of Christ. In March of 2000, Pope Saint John Paul II visited the site and said:
“Its memory becomes still richer when we turn to Holy Scripture, which shows Jericho as a place which bears the footprint not only of man but of God himself. In my mind I see Jesus coming to the waters of the River Jordan not far from here to be baptized by John the Baptist.”
In his address over his visit to Al-Maghtas, John Paul II also commented that the city had become a “flourishing oasis in the desert,” able to provide plentifully for its people. However, not all are blessed to live in places that offer simple necessities like water. Nonetheless, you have the ability to make an impact. Through a charitable donation to MISSIO you can help provide clean drinking water for those who need it most.
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