Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 1

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Herod's Soldiers. The Sanhedrin


 a hill in the vicinity, the heathens had their idols and a place of sacrifice. The Jews, roused by the rumor of the advent of the Messiah who was to come from Galilee, would no longer suffer the heathens to dwell among them. The report had been spread both by John himself when journeying through those parts, and by those whom he had there baptized. A neighboring prince of Sidon had dispatched soldiers to the defense of the idols and Herod also sent troops thither to bring the people to order.

These troops were made up of the rabble. I saw them with Herod at Callirrhoe. They told him that they would first be baptized by John, but this was mere policy. They thought by so doing they would have more success among the people. Herod replied that it was not at all necessary to be baptized by John, especially as he wrought no miracles, and nei­ther were they obliged to recognize his mission, but that they might make inquiries at Jerusalem. Then I saw them going to Jerusalem. They had among them chief men of three different ranks, whose office it was to propose the questions to John, and by that I saw they were of three different sects. They had an interview with the priests in the judgment hall in which Peter afterward denied the Lord. In it sat many judges, and it was full of people. The priests derided the soldiers' question, as to whether they should receive John's baptism or not. Their answer was that they might or they might not, it was all the same. About thirty of the soldiers went to John, who reproved them sharply as if to imply that he had little cause to hope for their amendment. He administered baptism to only a few of them in whom he perceived still a little good. These last also he sternly reproached for their dissimulation.

The multitude gathered at Ainon was very great. John baptized none for several days, being engaged in vehement and zealous preaching. Crowds of Jews, Samaritans, and heathens occupied the hills and ram­parts


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 around, separate from one another, some under shelter, some under sheds, and some in the open air. John's pulpit was in the center of the encampment, and all listened to him as he preached. Their num­ber amounted to many hundreds. They came to hear his teaching and receive baptism, after which they departed. Once, in particular, I saw many heathens, also people from Arabia and others from a land still farther east. They brought large asses and sheep with them. They had relatives around the country whom they visited here and there, and at last came to John.

In Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin held a great consul­tation about John, the result of which was that nine messengers were dispatched to him from three dif­ferent authorities. Annas sent Joseph of Arimathea, also Simeon's eldest son, and a priest whose office it was to inspect the sacrifices; three members of the council, and three private citizens were also chosen for the mission. Their instructions were to question John as to who he was, and to summon him to appear in Jerusalem; for if his mission was authorized, he should first have presented himself at the Temple. They likewise found fault with his unseemly raiment and, moreover, with his administering baptism to the Jews when it was customary to do so only to hea­thens! Some believed that he was Elias returned from the other world.

Andrew and John the Evangelist were with the Baptist. Many of the disciples and most of the future Apostles excepting Peter, who had already been bap­tized, and Judas the Traitor (who, however, had been at the fishery around Bethsaida making inquiries con­cerning Jesus and John) were with John at this time.

For three days, John had not baptized; but he had just resumed that work as the messengers from Jerusalem arrived. They wanted an audience with him right away, but John replied roughly and shortly that they must wait until he was ready. When at last they gained a hearing, they represented to him

John Baptizes in Jericho


 that he acted entirely too independently, that he should present himself at Jerusalem, and should adopt a less unsightly garb. When the envoys departed, Joseph of Arimathea and the son of Simeon remained with John and received from him baptism. There were many present whom John would not bap­tize; consequently they went to the envoys and charged John with partiality.

The future Apostles, returning to their own part of the country, told what they knew of John, and in con­sequence of his teaching, listened favorably to Jesus.

As Joseph of Arimathea was journeying back to Jerusalem, he met Obed, a relative of Seraphia (Veronica). He was a server in the Temple. Joseph, in answer to his questions, told him much about John. Obed then went and received the baptism. As a Temple server, he belonged to the number of the secret disciples. It was only at a later period that he followed Jesus openly.

3. John Receives an Admonition To Go to Jericho

I saw John crossing the Jordan to baptize the sick. He had only his linen scarf thrown around him and his mantle hanging from his shoulders. At one side hung a leathern bottle of baptismal water; on the other, the shell he used in baptizing. On the shore of the river opposite John's place of baptism, were many sick persons who had been brought thither, some in litters and some on a kind of wheelbarrow. They could not be taken across the river on the raft, and so they implored John to come to them. He did so attended by two of his disciples. He prepared a beautiful basin separated from the river by a dyke. This he did him­self, for he always had a spade with him. Through a channel, which he could close at pleasure, he let in the water from the river and then poured into it the bottle of baptismal water that he had brought with


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 him. He instructed the sick and then baptized them, pouring water out of a shell over them as they lay on the edge of the basin. When he had finished, he returned to Ainon by the east bank of the Jordan.

Here I beheld an angel appear to him and tell him to go to the other side of the Jordan near Jericho, for the time was drawing nigh. One would soon arrive there, and he should announce His coming.

At this command, John and his disciples took down their tents at the place of baptism near Ainon. They journeyed for some hours along the east side of the Jordan, then crossed the river, pursued their course along the western bank for a short distance, and again pitched their tents. There was a bathing place here, consisting of pits lined with white masonry and connected with the Jordan by canals that could be opened or closed as needed. There were no islands in this part of the river.

This second baptism place lay between Jericho and Bethagla on the western side of the Jordan and oppo­site Bethabara, which was situated somewhat fur­ther down on the east side of the river. From this place of baptism to Jericho, the distance was about five miles. The direct road led through Bethania and a desert. There was an inn on the route, but built a short distance off from the road. This region was a pleasure resort. The water of the Jordan is beauti­ful, becoming so clear when allowed to stand. In many places also it is highly odoriferous owing to the blos­soms that fall into it from the bushes in full bloom upon its banks. At times it is very shallow, one can see almost to the bottom, and I saw along the shore deep caves hollowed out of the rocks. I like so much to be in the Holy Land, though I never exactly under­stand the seasons there. When it is winter with us everything there is in full bloom, and in our summer they already have their second harvest. There is also a season of thick mists and heavy rains. There were about one hundred people with John, among them

Messengers Come to John


 his disciples and numerous pagans. They all set to work preparing the place and building the tent. All sorts of things were brought over from the baptism place at Ainon. All was now better arranged, and the sick were carried thither in beds.

It was in this part of the Jordan that Elias divided the waters with his mantle and passed over with Eliseus, who did the same on his return. Eliseus also rested here, and over this same spot the Children of Israel crossed.

From the Temple of Jerusalem messengers, both Pharisees and Sadducees, were now dispatched to John. He knew through the angel of their coming. When they reached the neighborhood of the Jordan, they sent a courier on before, to summon John to meet them at a place nearby. But he replied by their mes­senger that, if they wanted to speak with him, they might come to him. They did so, but John paid no attention to them. He went on teaching and baptiz­ing. They listened for awhile and then withdrew. When John had finished, he ordered them to meet him under the shelter or tent that the disciples had erected.

And now, accompanied by his disciples and many others, he went to them. They put all kinds of ques­tions to him, asking whether he was this one or that one, and I saw that he invariably answered in the negative. Then they asked who that One was of whom he spoke so much, for the old Prophecies were still remembered, and the rumor was current among the people that the Messiah had come. John answered that among them had arisen One whom they knew not, that he himself had never seen Him, and yet before his birth, he had been commanded by Him to prepare His ways and to baptize Him. If they would return at a certain time, he continued, they would behold Him there, for He was coming to receive bap­tism. Then he chided them severely, telling them that they had not come to the baptism, but merely for the purpose of seeing what was going on. They


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 retorted that they now knew who he was, that he was baptizing without a mission, that he was a hyp­ocrite clothed in rough garments, etc., and thus abus­ing him, they went their way.

Not long after, about twenty other messengers from the Sanhedrin arrived in Jerusalem. They were men of all conditions, among them some priests wearing caps and broad girdles and long scarves hanging from the arm. The ends of these scarves were rough as if trimmed with fur. They addressed John very earnestly, telling him that they had been sent to him by the whole Sanhedrin, to summon him to appear before the Council in order to prove his calling and mis­sion. They urged as a proof of his having none, his want of obedience to the Sanhedrin. I heard John replying in plain terms, bidding them tarry a little while and they should see coming to him the One from whom he had his mission. He told them undisguisedly that the One to whom he so plainly referred had been born in Bethlehem and reared in Nazareth, that He had fled into Egypt, etc., but that he him­self had never seen Him. The deputies of the San­hedrin reproached John with maintaining a secret understanding with Jesus, asserting that their communications were carried on by means of trusty messengers. To this John replied that he could not show to their blind eyes the messengers between Jesus and himself, they could not be seen by them. Indignant at his words, the deputies departed.

Multitudes from all sides, heathens as well as Jews, came to John. Herod very often sent people to hear him, and they carried back to their master an account of his teaching.

All things were very beautifully arranged at this place of baptism. John, with the help of his disci­ples, had put up an immense tent in which the sick and weary found refreshment, and in which also instructions were given. They sang hymns. I heard them singing a Psalm that treated of the passage of

Herod and John


 the Children of Israel through the Red Sea.

By degrees there sprang up at this place a little village of huts and tents covered partly with skins, partly with rushes. The concourse of strangers was very great. They came from the most distant coun­tries, even from the land of the Three Kings. They brought with them numbers of camels, asses, and beautiful, little frolicsome horses. They always jour­ney this way into Egypt. All encamped around John's baptism place to hear his teaching concerning the Messiah and to receive baptism.

From this place they proceeded in crowds to Beth­lehem. Not far from the Crib Cave, off toward the shepherd field was a well of Abraham. He and Sara had dwelt for a period in this region, and during an illness he had had an eager craving after some water from this well. But when it was brought to him in a bottle, he mortified himself, denied himself the cooling draught for the love of God. In reward he was cured. The water of this well was hard to raise on account of its great depth. A large tree stood by it, and the well itself was near the spot upon which lay buried Maraha, Abraham's nurse. When he came to these parts, he brought her with him on a camel. This spot had, like Mount Carmel and Horeb, become a place of pilgrimage for devout Jews. The three Holy Kings had once prayed there.

There were not as yet many Galileans among John's followers, only a few of the subsequent disciples of Jesus. Many went from the region of Hebron, among them numbers of heathens. Therefore did Jesus in His discourses on His way through Galilee, so zeal­ously exhort His hearers to go to John's baptism.

4. Herod's Interview with John. The Celebration of a Festival at the Place of Baptism

The place at which John taught was about a short


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 hour further on from where he was accustomed to baptize. It was one of the holy memorial places of the Jews, and was surrounded by walls like a gar­den inside and around which were rush-covered huts. In the center of this enclosure lay a stone upon the spot where the Children of Israel, when crossing the Jordan, had first rested the Ark of the Covenant and celebrated a festival of thanksgiving. John had erected his tent for teaching, a large canopy of latticework covered with rushes, over this stone at whose base was the chair from which he taught. Here John was holding forth to his disciples when Herod came marching by, but he continued his discourse undis­turbed by his presence.

Herod had gone to Jerusalem to meet his brother's wife, who had repaired thither with her daughter Salome, then about sixteen years old. He desired to marry the mother, and had in vain laid the question of the lawfulness of such a union before the San­hedrin. The refusal of the Council to sanction his desires excited his wrath and, as he feared the pub­lic voice, he determined to silence it by the decision of the Prophet John. He doubted not that John, in order to win his favor, would approve the step he wished to take.

I saw Herod's cavalcade consisting of himself, Salome, the daughter of Herodias, her female atten­dants, and about thirty followers marching toward the Jordan. Herod and the women rode in a chariot. He had sent a courier on to John, but the latter would not suffer Herod to come to the place of bap­tism. He regarded him as a man who, with his women and followers, would defile the sacred ceremonies. He suspended the baptism therefore, and, followed by his disciples, went to the place destined for preach­ing. Here he spoke boldly on the question which Herod intended to propose. He said that Herod should wait for the One who was to come after him, that he him­self would not baptize there much longer, for he must

A Jewish Festival


 make way for Him whose precursor he was.

John's words were so pointedly directed against Herod, that the latter could not fail to see that his design was known. However, he caused a large roll of writings on the subject of his suit to be presented to John. The latter would not pollute the hand so often raised in baptism by contact with them, and so they were laid before him. Then I saw Herod and his train indignantly leaving the place. He was still residing at the baths of Callirrhoe, some hours distant from John's place of baptism. He left behind him some of his followers with the writings in order to compel John to give his sanction to what they contained, but in vain. After Herod's departure, John returned to the place of baptism. The women in Herod's retinue were arrayed magnificently, though with tolerable modesty. Magdalen was more fantastic in her attire.

A three days' festival was now celebrated at the stone of the Ark of the Covenant where John's teach­ing tent had been erected. I cannot now say for cer­tain whether it was to commemorate the passage of Israel through the Jordan, or some other event. John's disciples adorned the place with branches of trees, garlands, and flowers. Peter, Andrew, Philip, James the Less, Simon, and Thaddeus were there, and many of the subsequent disciples of Jesus. This spot was always regarded as sacred by the devout among the Jews, but at this time it was rather dilapidated. John had it repaired. He, as well as some of his disciples, were in priestly robes. Over a gray undergarment, the Baptist wore a white robe, long and wide, girded at the waist by a sash woven in yellow and white, the ends fringed. On either shoulder was a setting as if of two curved precious stones, upon which were engraven the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, six on each. On his breast was a square shield, yel­low and white, fastened at the corners by fine golden chains. In this shield were set twelve precious stones each bearing the name of one of the twelve tribes.


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 Around his shoulders hung a long linen scarf like a hand towel. It was a white and yellow stole fringed at the ends. His robe also was fringed with white and yellow silk balls like fruit. His head was uncov­ered, but under the neck of his robe he wore a nar­row strip of woven stuff which could be drawn over the head like a cowl, and which then hung over the forehead in a point.

Before the stone upon which the Ark of the Covenant had rested stood a small altar. It was not exactly square. In the center of the surface was a cavity covered by a grating, and below it a hole for ashes; on the sides were pipes, which looked like horns. There were present many disciples in white garments and broad girdles such as the Apostles used to wear in the early assemblies for divine wor­ship. They served at the incense sacrifice. John burned several kinds of herbs, also spices, and I think some wheat on the portable altar of incense. All was decorated with green branches, garlands, and flow­ers. Crowds of aspirants to baptism were present.

The priestly garments and ornaments of the Bap­tist had all been prepared at this place of baptism. In those days there dwelt near the Jordan some holy women recluses, who worked at all kinds of neces­sary things and prepared the sacred robes of the Baptist. They were not baptized.

The ceremonies performed by John at this time re­minded one of the opening of a new church. He wore a long, white garment when baptizing. He performed no manual labor, with the exception of completing the place for Jesus' baptism. He did all with his own hands, the disciples carrying to him the materials.

I saw John at this place holding forth in a long and vehement discourse. Arrayed in his priestly vest­ments, he stood above the tent, which was surrounded by galleries like the tents of the kings in Arabia. Tiers of seats were erected within the walls of the enclosure, and on them stood an innumerable crowd

The Baptism Island


 of listeners. John spoke of the Saviour, who had sent him and whom he had never seen, also of the pas­sage through the Jordan. Incense was again offered in the tent, and fragrant spices.

From Maspha down into Galilee the news had spread that John was to hold this great meeting for instruc­tion, consequently multitudes of men were present. Almost all the Essenians had come. Most of the peo­ple were clad in long, white garments. I saw married couples arriving, the wives sitting between panniers of doves on asses which the husbands led. The men offered bread; the women, doves. John stood during the ceremony behind a grating and received the loaves, which were laid on a grated table and the flour still clinging to them removed. They were then piled in pyramids on dishes, blessed by John, and raised on high as if for an offering. It was afterward cut into pieces and distributed among the people, they that came from the greatest distance receiving the largest portions, since they had the most need of it. The flour scraped from the loaves, and the crumbs of the cut­ting, fell through the grated table on a tray and were burned on the altar. The doves brought by the women were divided also. The ceremony occupied almost half a day. The whole festival lasted during the Sabbath and three days inclusively. At its conclusions, I saw John busied again at the place of baptism.

5. The Island Upon Which Jesus Received Baptism Rises Out of The Jordan

John delivered to his disciples at the Jordan a dis­course upon the nearness of the Messiah's baptism. He told them that he had never seen Him, "But," said he, "I shall, as a proof of what I say, show unto you the place at which He will receive baptism. Behold, the waters of the Jordan will divide and from their midst an island will arise." At the same moment


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 I beheld the waters of the river dividing and, on a level with its surface appeared a small, white island circular in shape. This happened at the spot over which the Children of Israel had crossed the Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant and at which also Elias had divided the waters with his mantle.

Wonder seized upon the beholders. They prayed and sang praises. John and his disciples laid great stones in the water. Upon them they placed branches and trees, over which they scattered fine, white gravel, thus forming from the shore to the island a bridge beneath which the water could flow. Then they planted twelve small trees around the island, con­necting their upper branches in such a way as to form a kind of latticed arbor. Between the trees they set hedges of low bushes, of which numbers were found here and there along the Jordan. They had red and white blossoms, the fruit was yellow with a little crown like the medlar. These hedges looked very beautiful, for some were covered with blossoms, others full of fruit.

The new island, the spot upon which the Ark at the passage through the Jordan rested, appeared to be rocky and the bed of the river deeper than in Joshua's time. But when John called it forth for the place of Jesus' baptism, the water seemed to be much lower, so that I could not determine whether it had sunk or the island had risen.

To the left of the bridge, not in the middle of it, but nearer to the shore of the island, there was a deep hole in which welled up clear water. Some steps led down to it. Nearby rising above the surface of the water lay a smooth, red stone of triangular form, upon which Jesus was to stand, and to the right of it was a slender, fruit-bearing palm tree which He was to clasp with one arm during His baptism. The edge of the well was laid out in ornamental style and very beautifully wrought.

I saw that the Jordan was very much swollen when

The Ark of the Covenant


 Joshua led the Israelites through it. The Ark of the Covenant was borne far ahead of the people. Among the twelve carriers and attendants were Joshua, Caleb, and one whose name sounded something like Enoi. When arrived at the Jordan, the forepart of the Ark, which was usually borne by two, was now taken charge of by one alone, while the others sup­ported the back. As soon as the leader set the foot of the Ark in the river, the rushing waters instantly stood still, rose up like galleries on either side, and continued rising and swelling, until like a mountain they could be seen far away in the region of the city of Zarthan. They flowed toward the Dead Sea leav­ing the bed of the river such that the carriers bore the Ark over dry-shod. The Israelites crossed in the same way, but at some distance from the Ark and further down the river.

The Ark of the Covenant was borne by the Levites far into the riverbed to a spot upon which were four square, blood-red stones arranged in order. On either side lay two rows of triangular stones, six in num­ber. They were smooth, as if cut with a chisel. Besides these there were twelve others on each side. The twelve Levites set down the Ark of the Covenant on the four central stones and stepped, six to the right, six to the left, on the twelve lying near. These lat­ter were triangular, the sharp end sunk in the earth.

There were twelve others still further off. They, too, were triangular, very large and massive, and were differently variegated, some of them marked with all kinds of figures and flowers. Joshua caused twelve men from the Twelve Tribes to be chosen to bear these stones on their shoulders to the shore, and thence to a place at some distance where they were deposited in a double row for a memorial. At a later period a city rose in the neighborhood of this spot. The names of the Twelve Tribes and of those that bore them were engraved on the stones. Those upon which the Levites stood were still larger than


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 the others and, before the Israelites left the bed of the river, they were turned so that their point stood upward. The stones borne to the shore were no longer to be seen in John's time. Whether they lay buried in the earth or had been destroyed by war, I cannot now say. John, however, had pitched his tent between the sites of the double rows. At a subsequent period, I think through the influence of Helena, a church was built on the spot.

The place upon which the Ark of the Covenant rested in the Jordan was the exact spot upon which, later on, was the baptismal well of Jesus on the island, which otherwise appeared to be destitute of water.

When the Israelites and the Ark of the Covenant had crossed and the twelve stones had been turned upward, the Jordan began again to flow.

The water in the baptismal well on the island was so low down that from the shore only the head and neck of him that was being baptized could be seen. The descent to the well was by a very gentle slope. The octangular basin, about five feet in diameter, was surrounded by a broad ledge in five sections upon which was standing room for several.

The twelve triangular stones, upon which the Levites had stood, extended to both sides of Jesus' baptismal well, their sharp ends rising out of the ground. In the well itself lay those four red ones upon which the Ark had rested. They were now below the surface of the water though in earlier times, when the waters of the Jordan were low, their points were distinctly visible.

Close to the edge of the well was a three-cornered pyramidal stone resting on the sharp end. It was on this that Jesus was standing at His baptism when the Holy Spirit carne upon him. On His right, and close to the edge of the well, arose the slender palm tree which He clasped during the baptism; on His left stood the Baptist. This triangular stone upon which Christ stood was not one of the twelve that surrounded

Embassy from Jerusalem


 the inside of the well. I think John brought it him­self from the shore. There was a mystery connected with it also. It was covered with all kinds of veining and flowers. The other stones, the twelve, were of dif­ferent colors, and they, too, were pierced by in­numerable veinings and covered with flowers. They were larger than those carried to the land. It seems to me that they were precious stones that had been placed there by Melchisedech before the waters of the Jordan had begun to flow. But when he placed them there they were small. He had in this way laid the foundations of many subsequent buildings. These foun­dations had long lain cancelled by mud and earth, but when brought to light, they became holy places wherein something remarkable happened.

I think also that the gems worn by the Baptist in his breastplate at this feast had been taken either from those twelve stones or from those that had been removed to the shore.

6. New Embassy from Jerusalem. Herod Again Seeks an Interview With John

When John was once more busy at the place of baptism, I again saw about twenty deputies from all the authorities of Jerusalem approaching with the intention of calling him to account. They paused on the spot where the festival had been celebrated and sent word to him to appear, but John heeded not. Next day I saw them distant from the baptism place about a short half-hour. But John would not allow them so much as to enter the circle of the numer­ous dwellings on the outskirts of the enclosure. This was the circle that was hedged off. When he had fin­ished his labors, I saw him speaking to the envoys, though standing at some distance from them. He spoke in his customary style, paying no attention to the questions put to him, but dwelling upon Him


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 who would soon come to be baptized, who was greater then he and whom he had never seen.

Then I saw Herod sitting in a kind of chest upon a mule. He was accompanied by his brother's wife, with whom he was then living. She was magnificently and shamelessly adorned, her hair in curls, her robes wide and flowing. She, too, rode a mule and was attended by a retinue of servants. I saw them com­ing into the neighborhood of the place of baptism. The wife, without dismounting, halted at some distance; but Herod alighted and approached on foot for a con­ference with John who, however, would not permit him to come nearer than was absolutely necessary. Herod expostulated with John for having pronounced against him a sentence of excommunication shortly after he laid before him the papers in defense of his unlawful connection. John had excluded him from all share in the baptism and the salvation of the Mes­siah if he refused to break off his shameful relations with his brother's wife. Herod inquired of John whether he knew a Man by the name of Jesus of Nazareth of whom the whole country was talking, whether or not he kept up communication with Him, and whether that Man was the One whose coming he was con­stantly announcing. He urged that John need not hes­itate to inform him on these points, for that he intended to lay his case before Him. John answered that that Man would give him (Herod) just as little quarter as he himself did, that he (Herod) was and would always be an adulterer, that he might present his case where he would, but it would always remain adultery. When Herod asked John why he did not approach nearer to him and why he would speak to him only from a dis­tance, John answered: "Thou wast blind before, but thy adultery has made thee still blinder. The nearer I approach to thee, the blinder wilt thou become. But when I shall be in thy power, thou wilt do that of which thou wilt have cause to repent." In these words of John lay the prophecy of his own death. Herod and

Jesus Comes to John


 the wife now left, very much irritated.

The time drew near for Jesus to come to the bap­tism, and I saw that John was greatly troubled in mind. It was as if his time was now short. His man­ner of acting was no longer so spirited, and he became deeply depressed. By turns from Jericho, from Jerusalem, and from Herod came people deputed to drive John from the place of baptism. John's follow­ers had pitched their encampment to a great dis­tance around the place. The newcomers demanded of John that he should retire to the other side of the Jordan. Herod's soldiers broke down the hedges of the enclosure and drove the people away; but they did not proceed as far as John's tent, which lay between the two rows formed by the twelve stones. John's words to his disciples on this occasion were anxious and dejected. He earnestly longed for Jesus to present Himself at the baptism, for then, as he said, he would retire before Him to the opposite side of the Jordan. He told them that he would not much longer be among them, which words troubled them very much, for they did not want him to leave them.

When John was informed of Jesus' approach, he roused himself and with new courage began to bap­tize. Crowds came to him, chiefly those whom Jesus had exhorted to receive baptism, among them many publicans, also Parmenas and his parents from Nazareth. When John discoursed of the Messiah, say­ing that for Him he himself would soon make room, his words breathed so great humility as to cause real trouble to his disciples. The disciples whom Jesus had left in Nazareth also came to John. I saw them with him in his tent conversing about Jesus. John was so inflamed with ardent love for Jesus that he grew almost impatient at His not proclaiming Him­self the Messiah openly and in unmistakable terms. When John baptized these disciples, he received the assurance of the nearness of the Messiah. He saw a cloud of light hovering over them, and had a vision


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 of Jesus surrounded by all His disciples. From that moment, John became unspeakably joyous and expec­tant, constantly glancing into the distance, to see whether or not the Lord was yet in sight.

The island with the baptismal well had grown beautifully green, but no one went to it excepting John occasionally. The path over the bridge was usu­ally kept barred.

7. Jesus Baptized by John

Jesus, walking more quickly than Lazarus, reached John's place of baptism two hours before him. It was morning twilight when, on the road near the place, He caught up with a crowd of people who also were going to the baptism, and He walked on with them. They did not know Him, but they could not keep their eyes off Him, for there was something about Him very remarkable. When they reached the end of their jour­ney, it was morning. A crowd more numerous than usual was assembled to whom John was with great animation preaching of the nearness of the Messiah and of penance, proclaiming at the same time that the moment was approaching for him to retire from his office of teacher. Jesus was standing in the throng of listeners. John felt His presence. He saw Him also, and that fired him with zeal and filled his heart with joy. But he did not on that account interrupt his dis­course, and when he had finished he began to baptize.

He had already baptized very many and it was drawing on to ten o'clock, when Jesus in His turn came down among the aspirants to the pool of bap­tism. John bowed low before Him, saying: "I ought to be baptized by Thee, and comest Thou to me?" Jesus answered: "Suffer it to be so now, for so it becometh us to fulfill all justice that thou baptize Me and I by thee be baptized." He said also: "Thou shalt receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of blood." Then John begged Him to follow him to the

Baptism of Jesus


 island. Jesus replied that He would do so, provided that some of the water with which all were baptized should be poured into the basin, that all present should be baptized at the same place with Himself, and that the tree by which He was to support Him­self should be transplanted to the ordinary place of baptism, that all might share the same conveniences.

The Saviour now went with John and His two dis­ciples, Andrew and Saturnin. Andrew had followed those disciples and adherents of the Lord whose con­versation between Capharnaum and this place has been recorded above. They crossed the bridge to the island and into a little tent that, close to the east­ern edge of the baptismal well, had been erected for the purpose of robing and disrobing. The disciples followed the Lord to the island, but at the far end of the bridge the people stood on the shore in great crowds. On the bridge itself three could stand abreast. One of the foremost in the latter position was Lazarus.

The baptismal well lay in a gently inclined, oct­angular basin the bottom of which was encircled by a similarly shaped rim connected with the Jordan by five subterranean canals. The water surrounded the whole basin, filling it through incisions made in the rim, three in the northern side serving as inlets, and two on the southern acting as outlets. The for­mer were visible, the latter covered, for at this point were the place of action and the avenue of entrance. For this reason the water did not here surround the well. From this south side, sodded steps led down into it by an inclination of about three feet in depth.

In the water off the southern shore, was a red tri­angular, sparkling stone sunk close to the margin of the basin, the flat side toward the center of the well, the point toward the land. This side of the well upon which were the steps leading down into it, was some­what higher than the opposite one. This latter, viz. the north side, was the one with the three inflow­ing canals. On the southwestern side was a step lead­ing


Life of Jesus Christ

 to the somewhat deeper part of the margin and on this side only was there access to the well. In the well, in front of the triangular stone, there stood a green tree which had a slender trunk.

The island was not quite level. It was rather ele­vated toward the center and in some parts rocky. It was covered with moss and in the middle of it was the wide-spreading tree connected with which were the tops of the twelve trees planted around the edge of the island. Between every two of the trees, was a hedge of several small shrubs.

The nine disciples that were always with Jesus during His last days went down to the well with Him and took their stand on the ledge around it. Jesus entered the tent and there laid off, first, His mantle and girdle; then a yellow, woolen garment which was closed in front by laces; then that nar­row, woolen strip which He wore around His neck and crossed over the breast, and which He was accus­tomed to wind around His head at night and in stormy weather. Retaining His brown, woven undergarment, He stepped forth and descended to the margin of the well, where He drew it off over His head. About His loins was fastened a broad linen band which was also wound around each limb for about half a foot. Saturnin received the garments of the Lord as He disrobed, and handed them to Lazarus, who was standing on the edge of the island.

And now Jesus descended into the well, and stood in the water up to His breast. His left arm encircled the tree, His right hand was laid on His breast, and the loosened ends of the white, linen binder floated out on the water. On the southern side of the well stood John, holding in his hand a shell with a perfo­rated margin through which the water flowed in three streams. He stooped, filled the shell, and then poured the water in three streams over the head of the Lord, one on the back of the head, one in the middle, and the third over the forepart of the head and on the face.

Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 1

This document is: ACE_1_0421

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