To travel is to be humbled.
I say that often as a North American, especially when I gaze upon buildings that are older than my home country. I’ve stood in awe, breathless and sometimes tearful, silenced by the brilliant efforts of people thousands of years before my coming to stand in the exact spot where they once labored.
I am not a religious person but I could not help but be similarly moved by two of our important historical stops in Jordan.
Places that form part of the basis of Christianity. Places that are the source of much love, hate, devotion, persecution, war, peace.
Places that bring ancient words to life.
Somewhere on this dusty hill, with a view of a vast field of empty land, the prophet Moses is said to be buried. It is also where God once stood with Moses and proclaimed the land before them to be given to the Israelites.
On that very day the Lord addressed Moses as follows: ‘Ascend this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, across from Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites for a possession; you shall die there on the mountain that you ascend and shall be gathered to your kin, as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his kin; because both of you broke faith with me among the Israelites at the waters of Meribath-kadesh in the wilderness of Zin, by failing to maintain my holiness among the Israelites. Although you may view the land from a distance, you shall not enter it—the land that I am giving to the Israelites.’
The view from Mount Nebo, where God stood with Moses.
A serpentine cross structure sits atop Mount Nebo, symbolic of the cross Jesus died on and the bronze snake created by Moses.
Bethany Beyond the Jordan
In a small natural pool fed by the Jordan river, Jesus was baptized. The exact location has been disputed in recent years, having once believed to be on Israel land, the actual site was discovered only in 1996 in Jordan. Pope Benedict XVI visited in 2009 to sanctify the blessed spot.
‘In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’
Remains of three churches exist, those that were built to honor the baptism of Jesus.
A large mosaic is onsite, to commemorate the visit of the Pope.
Jordan is home to many important Christian sites. For more information on these and others, visit the tourism board website.
Our visits to Mount Nebo and Bethany Beyond the Jordan were arranged by Visit Jordan. As always, the opinions we express are our own.