18 – Disciples Baptize

When: First week of May, 28 AD
Where: Aenon, Decapolis


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Jesus, his disciples Philip and Nathaniel, and his family, stayed in Jerusalem for the Sabbath of April 30/31 (Friday night and Saturday day) and then on the morning of Sunday May 1, they journeyed down into the Rift valley, passed through Jericho, traveled north up the “Way of the Jordan”, and were miles to the north when night fell.

On Monday May 2 Jesus and his travel companions passed through Adam in the late morning and then continued north. Late Tuesday afternoon they arrived at Aenon (“springs”), near Salim, only seven miles south of Beth-shan [today], Decapolis, on the border of Roman Judea. Mary and her companions continued north on Wednesday, back to Nazareth, while Jesus and his disciples, joined John the Baptizer.

John was already baptizing at Aenon. There was plenty of running water, and many people passed the area, which lay near a major road for people of Galilee on their journeys to and from Jerusalem. For three days Jesus proclaimed the coming kingdom of God and his disciples baptized, while nearby John proclaimed the kingdom and he and his disciples baptized.

On Saturday May 8, the Sabbath, a debate arose between two different views on the issue of “purification”. The Jews had long held that a person was pure only in so far as they kept the Law of God. If one should break the law, how is it that washing your body could wash away your guilt for violating God’s law?

John and his disciples were teaching that if a person was sorry for sinning and was prepared to change their way, that immersing ones self in water is a sign of the drowning to death of the old sinful life. Then rising from ones Baptism, forgiven by God, one was born to a new and moral life dedicated to preparing for the Kingdom.

This debate convince both John and Jesus that it would be better to leave Aenon and continue their ministries elsewhere. John had been planning to go south to Bethany, Perea anyway, and so the next morning, Sunday May 9, John and Jesus began their journey south.

As they traveled, some resentment arose between the disciples of John and the disciples of Jesus. For years now John had been proclaiming this “baptism of repentance”, for the forgiveness of sins. Now Jesus was proclaiming the same message but because of his speaking ability, and his ability to do “signs”, more people had chosen to listen to Jesus, and held him in higher esteem, then they held John. John’s disciples felt that this was unjust.

When the company stopped for a rest, the disciples of John brought their bruised egos to John. And they were surprised at John’s response. John said that he only began the process, and that it was his ministry to prepare a way for Jesus ‘the embodiment of Elijah’. Everything is as it should be.

Jesus had become acutely aware that he would not accomplish the mission of The Messiah by doing what John was doing. That was NOT the ministry he was called to do. And when Jesus heard that there was envy among John’s disciples, he decided that it would be best to separate the two groups. So that evening, when they arrived near Adam, he informed John that he and his disciples would turn west in the morning and return to Galilee.

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