I am not sure where to start and end here, as the Jordan holds so much significance; this particular spot hold much, much importance to the Biblical Narrative. This is very likely the place where Joshua first crossed into Canaan; it is likely the place where Naomi and Ruth crossed coming back from Moab. Most importantly, it seems almost certain this is where our Lord submitted to Baptism and began His ministry among us.
Some political notes. The Jordan has, since the days of the Palestinian Mandate, marked the Israel/Jordan border. The 6 Day War and the Yom Kippur War sort of changed things in very complex ways when Israel occupied big parts of the West Bank of the Jordan. The net result for travelers was the the Baptism site was really a C site; in fact, we were told it was even the real Jordan, but just some backwater of it. This was the real deal. This was the Jordan just before it empties into the Dead Sea, and where John the Baptist preached.
High point of this visit was us singing “Shall We Gather at the River?”….as we were gathered at the river.
Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel feet have trod;
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God?
Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.
Folks, what can I say? That was powerful stuff. As my wife said: “I got goosies!”
At this point, the River is still the border between Israel and Jordan, and right across from us was a rather nice Jordanian soldier. There is an Israeli side for Baptism, and and Jordan side, all marked clearly. There is a buffer zone in the middle of the river, just like other border points.
There was also a really friendly Israel soldier on this side