The baptism of Jesus happened in the Jordan River. That’s when the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove, and when His ministry began.
While organizing my photographs a few days ago, I came across an old tattered post card and nearly tossed it into the miscellaneous pile. Then I took another look and discovered this could be a photo of the exact location of the baptism of Jesus!
The post card came from Israel – and the person who sent it said this could be the exact site where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.
Text of postcard: Dear Friends and Neighbors – Just arrived in Jerusalem! This is the place, we are told, where Jesus was Baptized by John the Baptist! Miss our Church and its people very much, and our kids even more – Grateful, however for this Holy privilege which is ours! Love – Henrietta and Jim
The card was sent to an address in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, to Dr. and Mrs. Hicks.
It is impossible to read the date on the post card but it could be 1939. The house was built in 1930.
Could Henrietta, who sent the post card from Jerusalem, be Henrietta Davis of Thornton. Wife of James? Or was she the mother of Sara Rose “Sallie” (Kelly), whose parents were Dr. James and Henrietta Kelly?
How quickly our pasts evaporate when we don’t create a lasting legacy!
King Solomon wrote:
There is no remembrance of former things,
Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come
By those who will come after. – Ecclesiastes 1:11
Yet here is this post card, sent by Henrietta and Jim when they visited the Holy Land – a reminder that they existed and that they loved the Lord Jesus!
How long could this postcard last? Maybe until it disintegrates or is destroyed by fire or water. And how long will this web page last? Maybe until I pass away and my dear loved ones decide not to pay the hosting fee. So these things are not easily made permanent – even if I tried, by uploading to Facebook, Google, Pinterest, and Reddit! Even those sites can go down. Ask Goliath how quickly the mighty can crumble.
Yet – I think of how long the story of the baptism of Jesus has lasted. Two thousand years! I think this is one of the great proofs of the legitimacy of the Word of God, the Holy Bible. Look how long the texts have been preserved, and how the Bible is now in almost every household worldwide. Even people who aren’t dedicated born-again Christians will usually have a Bible in their homes. And sometimes, two or three, or more. I had quite a few Bibles in my home over the years, and that was before I was saved in 2013. Everyone knows the Bible is a book of great power, and Christians know it is the Word that sanctifies us for the Lord. (John 17:17)
Where the baptism of Jesus happened
This archeological site on the Jordanian side of the river is believed to be the actual site of the baptism of Jesus. Dr. Mohammad Waheeb discovered this ancient site, Bethany Beyond the Jordan, in 1997. Dr. Waheeb works as an archeologist for the Department of Antiquities in Jordan.
The three baptismal pools discovered at the site date back to the late Early Roman Byzantine Period, according to Dr. Waheeb. The discovery of the pools took place near an archeological site on what locals called Elijah’s Hill – thought to be the place where Elijah ascended to heaven in a whirlwind after parting the waters of the Jordan River, and walking through on dry ground with his successor, Elisha. (See 2 Kings, chapter 2 for that story.) Catholics built a large monastery on Elijah’s Hill in the 6th century, in honor of John the Baptist.
I do not know if Bethany Beyond the Jordan is near the scene on the post card sent from Henrietta and Jim to Dr. and Mrs. Hinks in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, but in the documentary below (I’ve created a 9-part playlist for you) in part two at 4:41 minutes in the video, there’s a view of what looks like the same site, while the narrator says, “for much of the twentieth century archeologists could not travel to the area where Bethany Beyond the Jordan was suspected to be.”
Facts about the Jordan River
- The Jordan River is 156 miles in length
- It is between Israel and Jordan
- It flows from Hula Valley through the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea
- The water flows from north to south
- The Hebrew name: Nahar ha-Yarden; River of the Garden
- The Israelites crossed into the Promised Land over the Jordan River
- John the Baptist did his baptisms there, including the baptism of Jesus
- Israel and West Bank are on the western side of the river
- Jordan and Golan Heights are on the eastern side of the river
- Elijah parted the waters of the Jordan just before he ascended via a whirlwind
- The river flows through the Jordan Valley
- When the Jordan River exits the Sea of Galilee, it is 210 meters below sea level
- When it reaches the Dead Sea it is 422 meters below sea level
- The river is shrinking due to water diversion projects in modern times
- A three-kilometer section just south of Galilee is kept pristine for baptisms and tourism
- South of that, the river’s ecosystem is endangered by human carelessness
- In 2007 the river was declared one of the world’s 100 most endangered ecological sites
- Unless the environment is restored, it is predicted that the river could dry up
- The Jordan River’s flow rate was once 1.3 billion cubic meters annually
- In 2010 the flow rate was only 20 to 30 million cubic meters
- Water diversion on the Jordan by Syria, Lebanon and Jordan helped start the Six Day War in 1967
Wikipedia page for the Jordan River – also called the River Jordan. Either way is correct.