JORDAN - Jesus’ Baptism Site a Tourist Bonanza

Arno Froese

For centuries thousands of pilgrims a year have made the journey to Bethany Beyond The Jordan, a site on the east bank of the Jordan River which Christians believe to be the exact spot where Jesus was baptized.

This number could swell to one million visitors a year if a proposed phased six-year estimated $300 million project for a ‘tourist city’ adjacent to what is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site goes ahead.

Organizers hope that with souvenir shops and walking trails, boutique hotels and botanical gardens, the site—which lies outside the formal boundary of the baptism location—will eventually attract five times as many annual visitors than the current 200,000, and will help preserve the region’s dwindling Christian presence.

Bethany Upon The Jordan, which lies around 50 km west of Amman, is mentioned in the Gospel of John as the place where John the Baptist baptized Jesus.

Extensive excavations since the mid-1990s have unearthed ruins of churches, baptismal pools and caves that show it was a Christian pilgrimage site as early as the fourth century.

In recent years, the unregulated construction of huge edifices and churches by competing churches has altered the once-untouched landscape., 14 December 2022

Arno's Commentary

About Jerusalem, it is standard to declare the Temple Mount as venerated by three religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Thus, it behooves us to ask the question: do Christians have holy places? The answer is an unqualified, solid no. We learn this fact from the Gospel of John in chapter 4. There at the place of Jacob’s well, Jesus dialogs with the Samaritan woman, She identifies a so-called holy place: “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship” (John 4:20). How did Jesus answer? “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:22-24).

When Paul is confronted with idolatry in Athens, he finds an altar with the inscription, “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.” Cleverly, he does not condemn it but uses it to preach the Gospel: “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us” (Acts 17:27). Members of the true, universal Church do not need a specific holy place, certain times of the day, dates, or some sensational event on planet earth; we can worship God the Father anytime, anywhere, without any assistance from certain holy places.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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