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September 9th, 2010
02:03 PM ET

Christians baptized in the Jordan River


Editor's Note: CNN's Mike Schwartz files this report from CNN's Jerusalem bureau.

For the hundreds of Christians on the river bank, the water in the Jordan is sacred.

"It’s the same river where Jesus himself was baptized. That is not important to baptism itself, but for the experience it is something special," said Robert Ekh, the senior pastor from Livets Ord (Word of Life) in Uppsala, Sweden. He says his church is comparable to Pentecostal churches in the United States.

Ekh recently led a group of 1,500 Christians from 35 countries to Israel, to follow in the footsteps of Christ as laid out in the Gospels in the New Testament. He said the baptism ceremony he presided over was an important moment in the pilgrimage.

"It’s something that changes you inside. The Bible becomes alive in a totally different way. Your faith becomes concrete and real because you are standing in the places where things happen."

Orthodox Christians are dipped under the water three times, as believers are blessed in the name of the Holy Trinity.

Ron Zakorano traveled here from his home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ,and was baptized with a similar blessing. He was submerged on his back and, after rising from the water, said, "So much of Christianity and history is related to this area and the opportunity to live again through him [Jesus] is just an exhilarating experience."

Away from the crowd, a mother from Nigeria sprinkled her 2-year-old son with drops cupped in her hand.

The three distinct practices of baptism all have a common thread, Ekh explained.

"These are different people that have come to have faith in Jesus Christ as their savior and Lord. Baptism is one of the basic things in Christian faith and is part of the great commission that Jesus gave to his followers."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Israel

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Steve

    Oh, lighten up!!

    September 14, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  2. David Johnson

    And Dave grabs Jesus around the neck and gives him noogies! Oh, what an appalling sight!

    Dave has no respect for the Messiah myth.

    September 10, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  3. David Johnson

    July 28, 2010 Digital Journal

    "A baby boy drowned as he was being baptized by a priest in Moldova. The priest, Father Valentin, immersed the boy three times in the presence of his parents and godparents during the baptism ceremony."

    It is sad when a baby dies. But to die while being baptized... Where was the baby Jesus? How could he not of worked a miracle to preserve this innocent? I mean, the child was being baptized!

    I'll tell you, it's enough to make a guy lose his faith. And I have faith the size of a mustard seed, my brothers!

    I ask the question, yet again: How would the world look any different, if there were no god?

    If there was no god, I guess a baby could drown while being baptized...?

    September 10, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  4. NL

    I can remember reading at least one story every year for the past ten about how dangerously polluted that river is. It's like going to Lourdes; you're likely to catch something.

    September 10, 2010 at 12:20 am |
  5. SomeTruth

    In my state it is illegal to alter the flow of a watercourse. I'm sorry, but they might have been baptized in an illegal place.

    September 9, 2010 at 11:50 pm |
    • SomeTruth

      oops, that was for DM.

      September 9, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
  6. DM

    My family planned our children's baptism at Cascade Falls BC this summer, but when we got there it was dangerously over populated so we went down stream a ways and found this sweet manmade pool that this young man had been forming, by moving enormous rocks and so forth on his spare time every summer for the past 15 years. He told us this story, because he was there when we arrived. We had told him that it is a perfect spot for our children to be baptized. He said he was thrilled, and had never witnessed a baptism before. One of my kids spent the afternoon afterwards sharing with this man the love of Jesus. He began confessing that he has made a lot of mistakes and knows he needs to change. PTL

    September 9, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
    • David Johnson

      You gotta watch those man made pools. People like to take a leak in them. I wouldn't have put my kid in it. Was the water a yellowish color?

      September 9, 2010 at 11:41 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Did you see Jesus when you baptized the kids? Did you feel all giddy? LOL

      September 9, 2010 at 11:43 pm |
  7. Peter F

    What an extraordinary experience... I'm almost upset that I've already been baptized – almost. ;-)

    September 9, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
    • SomeTruth

      You can do it again, Peter F. There is no limit to delusions.

      And I'll bet you can even buy a DIY kit with genuine River Jordan water in the event that you can't afford the trip over there.

      September 9, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Brother Peter! Come over to my house. I will baptize you in the name of the father, son and holy spirit, with my sprinklers. We have doves in the neighborhood. One may light on you shoulder and take a dump. Doves are glorified pigeons.

      September 9, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
    • Peter F

      You guys are missing the historical significance here... to be baptized in the actual Jordan River. Ay carumba! I actually will be over in Israel next summer, so maybe I'll at least watch some baptisms first hand.

      September 10, 2010 at 1:48 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Peter F

      Some Truth is right. I have some River Jordan water. For only $5.00, I can send you a liter of genuine Jordan River Water.

      I will pray over it and ask the desert hobgoblin to bless it. It's yours for the asking Peter. Well asking and the $5.00.

      Tell your friends! I mean friend. Well, tell people.

      September 10, 2010 at 9:29 am |
  8. Reality

    Other than a quick cool down, a waste of money if you believe what is being taught in some Catholic graduate school theology classes:

    To wit:

    Original sin is only symbolic of man's tendencies to sin. Baptism does not erase original sin (or any other sin) since the sin does not exist. The old "laundry of the soul," approach to Baptism is no longer accepted.

    September 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm |

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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.