Bethabara (translated from the Hebrew as “a place of crossing"), is called as well Bethany beyond the Jordan - is located at the Jordan River. Two very important events of the Old Testament happened here: the crossing of the Jordan River by the Israelites led by Joshua on dry ground (water parted before them) after forty years of wandering in the desert to the Promised Land (Joshua 3, 14-17) and taking the holy prophet Elijah by God in a fiery chariot to heaven (4 Sam. 2, 4-11).
The events of the New Testament, such as the preparation of the Savior way through the preaching of the Good News from John the Baptist also took place here revelation of Jesus Christ through baptism (John 1: 28) happened here too. In the same area “beyond the Jordan “Jesus Christ returned, when the Jews decided to kill him at the feast of sacrifice (Jn. 10, 39-42). Mary of Egypt has chosen this desert to repent her sinful life by asceticism, fasting and prayer.
In the 90s of XX century on the east bank of the Jordan River international team of archaeologists discovered (with help of ancient mosaics of Madaba, map of the Holy Land from the sixth century) the ruins of a Byzantine church and the foundation of Greek columns - authentic place of Revelation of Lord. Studies have shown that for seven centuries (from the beginning of the fifth to the seventh century), five different Christian churches successively exchaged in this place. The first temple was built at the time of Emperor Anastasios (491-518) on special 6 meters high arches to avoid damage during the floods of the Jordan. The skeleton of a stone chapel was found in the place where Jesus Christ took off his robe before going into the water.
Here you can see many monuments of Byzantine churches ruins from IV - VII century, the ruins of a chapel at the site of the Baptism of Jesus Christ. Nearby there is a spring of St. John the Baptist and Byzantine monastery of Our Lady (Mary of Egypt). There is also the hill of St. Elijah, where he ascended to heaven in a fiery chariot. There is also a cave revered as the home of the prophet Elijah and John the Baptist. Around the hotel there are many newly built churches such as the Rome Catholic, Armenian, Evangelical Lutheran, Greek Orthodox monastery and the Greek Orthodox Church of St. John the Baptist. In the near future such churches as: Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Ethiopian, Georgian orthodox, Arabic and Anglican will arise there.
The Baptism of Jesus
As Jesus was coming out of the water, he saw the heavens open up and the Holy Spirit descending like a dove. He heard a voice from above say, “You are my beloved son with whom I am well-pleased.” Then the Spirit took Jesus into the wilderness where he remained for forty days, and where Satan tempted him. In the wilderness Jesus dwelt among the wild beasts, but the angels looked after him.
After Jesus came back from the wilderness to Bethany beyond the Jordan, He found John sitting with two of his students. When John saw Jesus he said to his students, “This is the Lamb of God who will take away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Hearing this, the two students decided to follow Jesus and were in turn followed by three others, among them Peter.
Jesus carried the torch of faith from John the Baptist, the torch that had also been carried by Moses, Elijah and the other prophets. From Bethany beyond the Jordan Jesus declared the good news of God, saying, “The Hour draws near and the Kingdom of God is at hand! So, repent and have faith in the good news of God!”
After returning to Jerusalem, a dispute arose between Jesus and the Jews during the festival of the renovation of the Temple. When this happened Jesus fled back across the Jordan to Bethany where John was still baptizing. The people warmly received Jesus and many came to him from the surrounding towns and villages, from Salt, Amman, Madaba and Hisban. They brought their sick to him. He cured them, and many people came to believe in him.
From Bethany beyond the Jordan, Jesus returned to Jerusalem only to have to flee again, this time to Ephraim (al-Tayyibah) near Ramallah. Later he returned to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and the events of his passion, death and resurrection would follow.