There was a strange happiness with the local people after breakfast this morning as a rare thunderstorm brought heavy rain from the western hills overlooking the Sea of Galilee. The temporary outbursts of rain brought localised flooding on the floors, and springing leaks from the ceilings. A lady explained briefly her pleasure that this was the first spot of rain for over six months and for them it was much needed rain. We were told that roads would be dangerous and there is normally many accidents caused by the surface becoming excessively slippery.
We were travelling to Jerusalem today to meet up with our friends from Rochdale whom had traveled south to the Negev desert. They are now in Jerusalem City at their friends house.
It was an extreme desire to visit the Jordan river. Specifically the point where Jesus was baptized by John. This is recorded in all 4 of the Gospels, Matt 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11 , Luke 3:21-22 & John 1:28.
There was no option of a tour bus for us, so I checked on the map and found that there was a bus that went by. I prayed that the Lord would guide us and protect us knowing that we would be walking possibly long distances in the wilderness in the west bank.
It was about a 60 mile journey from Tiberias to Qasr al Yahud. The baptism of Jesus site. Through winding sun cracked roads, cutting through the vast barren hills and the spread out plantations and kibbutzes and settlements. On the way, traffic came to a standstill as a truck coming down a slippery hill couldn’t stop and rammed into a bus like ours, smashing it across the road. The military and police investigated and our bus took a detour. I remember the cautious words of the lady this morning “slippery roads and many accidents.”
Sometime later, we alighted the bus at a very desolate spot on the highway and in the distance we could see numerous churches towards the Jordanian border. It seemed strange walking down this dusty quiet path surrounded by nothing but windswept mounds of sandstone gravel and limestone. As we pressed on the churches became more visible and the fences appeared with their ominous warning message Danger of Death, Minefields! left and right.
There was an unmanned checkpoint, various lookout hills, which at some point, eager eye’s would watch from afar. We reached the area reputed and widely accepted to be the area where Elijah was taken up into heaven on a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:8) as a sign his prophetic ministry was over and handed to Elisha, (2 Kings 2:14)
Jesus started His ministry here by `crossing the river` and in being baptised, opened the doors for every following Christian to be baptised in water, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, The way to the promised land of forgiveness and eternal life in heaven.
It was busy with coach tours, there must have been 30 people in the water when we arrived and a hundred or so around the steps. We went to get changed and praise the Lord. They had all gone when we got into the water. I got the attendant cleaner to take a picture as I was rebaptised
It was going to be a long trek back into the unknown. Past the minefields, up the long, long road to the main route, and then however long waiting for a bus in this remote place. or maybe not.
By God’s grace a lovely Jewish family stopped and gave us a lift not just to the end of the road, or the bus stop, but straight into the heart of Jerusalem and to the very front door!