BETHANY BEYOND JORDAN

It is amazing how you can look at maps and teach and preach for decades and still not have a grasp of a place. Sitting under a pavilion on the shores of the Jordan near where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist crystallized the event in my mind. There we were just a few miles north of the Dead Sea. The muddy Jordan had many guests who were being baptized. We had also done baptisms but had chosen the clear waters near the Sea of
Galilee for our site. Here Jordanian soldiers face Israeli soldiers day after day insuring the security of the border. Bethany is just across the river from us. There are steps down to the river from both sides. We sang praise songs as we meditated on what happened here. It was here that God spoke from heaven and the Holy Spirit made a visible descent at the baptism of Jesus. Here Jesus stood with us in the waters of baptism where he was fully submerged to show forth his burial and resurrection which lay only three years ahead of that amazing moment. Here Jesus stood for us as he accepted his role of dying for our sins which was also revealed in his baptism, thus the image of burial. Here it became clear that Jesus always stands above us as the sinless Son of God. The wonder of our triune God was revealed at Bethany beyond Jordan that day. The Father spoke, the Spirit descended, and the Son submitted. He would submit in the symbol of baptism foreshadowing his submission to die for us on the cross. The stirring of pilgrims from all over the world revealed the sacredness of the place. He is truly Lord of all.
Dan Wooldridge

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