The Jordan River is near the Judean Desert wilderness as it reaches the Dead Sea and is one of the most important sites for both Jews and Believers. As Believers it is the river where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. For Jews the Jordan River is where the priests who bore the Ark of the Covenant crossed over on dry ground with all the Israel (Joshua 3:17) and the river Elijah and Elisha crossed on dry ground. John the Baptist was the son of Zechariah the priest and his mother was Elizabeth, a descendant of Aaron. This is the same John whose birth was announced by Gabriel to his father in the Temple sanctuary. He was named by God for His given purpose before his birth as “the man sent to make straight the way of the Lord”. John grew as a child and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel (Luke 1:80). Jerusalem and all Judea and all the country about the Jordan went out to hear John the Baptist and were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. (Mark 3:5-6). The traditional site of the Jordan River is near the Judean Desert but has since been moved to a location where the Jordan River flows out of the Sea of Galilee access ease by pligrams who come to be baptised in the same river as Jesus. The new site is closer to the home where Jesus lived during His ministry.
“Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and they set out from Acacia Grove and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they crossed over. So it was, after three days, that the officers went through the camp; and they commanded the people, saying, When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.” And Joshua said to the people, Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you. Then Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over before the people. So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people. And the Lord said to Joshua, This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. You shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When you have come to the edge of the water of the Jordan, you shall stand in the Jordan. So Joshua said to the children of Israel, Come here, and hear the words of the Lord your God. And Joshua said, By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan. Now therefore, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from every tribe. And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap. So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest), that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho. Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.” (Joshua 3:1-17).
Then Elijah said to him, Elisha, stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to Jericho. But he said, As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you! So they came to Jericho. Now the sons of the prophets who w ere at Jericho came to Elisha and said to him, Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today? So he answered, Yes, I know; keep silent! Then Elijah said to him, Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to the Jordan. But he said, As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you! So the two of them went on. And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood facing them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. Now Elijah took his mantle, rolled itup, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground. And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you? Elisha said, Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me. So he said, You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so. Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen! So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over.” (2 Kings 2:4-14).
“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near. This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one calling in the wilderness, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” (Matthew 3:1-6, Mark 1:4-6). “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:1-6).
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me? Jesus replied, Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness. Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-11).
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water. And John bore witness, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29-34).