For Christians, the most significant event associated with the River Jordan is undoubtedly the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist. Interestingly enough, this also took place very close to Beit 'Abara, where Joshua, Elijah and Elisha crossed the river. In New Testament times, it became known as Bethany, the village of John the Baptist. This Bethany is not to be confused with the village of Bethany near Jerusalem, where the Bible says Lazarus was raised from the dead.
Built in commemoration of the baptism site, the three Byzantine churches are well worth a visit for travellers passing through the area. Two are within walking distance from Bethany and the third is located on southern end of the Jordan River, across from Jericho.
The Bible clearly records that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist (Matthew 3: 13-17), and that John the Baptist lived, preached and baptized in the village of Bethany, on "the other side of the Jordan" (John 1: 28). The baptism site, known in Arabic as al-Maghtas, is located at the head of a lush valley just east of the Jordan River. After Jesus' baptism at Bethany, he spent forty days in the wilderness east of the River Jordan, where he fasted and resisted the temptations of Satan (Mark 1: 13, Matthew 4: 1-11).