Journeys of Jesus: Jerusalem to the Judean Countryside

For the past several posts, we’ve been following Jesus’ journeys through John’s gospel account.

The synoptic gospels all report on Jesus’ baptism and His temptation in the wilderness and then Matthew and Mark transition to the next phase by telling us that, after John the Baptist was arrested, Jesus returned to Galilee and began His ministry there. (Matthew 4:12, Mark 1:14).

Today, the account in John continues and makes the point that the baptizer hadn’t yet been arrested, so these journeys are in the time period between the temptation and Christ’s Galilean ministry reported in the other gospels.

After these things, Jesus came with his disciples into the land of Judea. He stayed there with them and baptized. 23 John also was baptizing in Enon near Salim, because there was much water there. They came, and were baptized; 24 for John was not yet thrown into prison. (John 3:22-24)

This is another case where God has chosen not to reveal to us exactly where Jesus went in Judea to perform these baptisms.

He does tell us where John was baptizing at the same time (Enon near Salim). Archeologists and scholars haven’t definitively identified these places, but even if they did, the text does not indicate whether Jesus was baptizing near John or not, only that John’s disciples had heard that Jesus was baptizing and that it was “hurting business” – that people were going to Jesus to be baptized instead of John.

All that we know is that Jesus had left Jerusalem and gone with His disciples somewhere in Judea and that, from there they would later head north towards Galilee and pass near Sychar. When I put together the map for the Journeys with Jesus game, I picked a spot and called it “Countryside” to represent an endpoint for this journey, but I made clear in the game rules that we don’t really know where it is.

What we do know from this passage is much more important than any geographic location. John the Baptist responds to his disciples’ concerns with a powerful testimony of Christ:

John answered, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. This, my joy, therefore is made full. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 What he has seen and heard, of that he testifies; and no one receives his witness. 33 He who has received his witness has set his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for God gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand. 36 One who believes in the Son has eternal life, but one who disobeys the Son won’t see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:27-36)

Do you believe in the Son? If so, you have eternal life! That is what we really need to know.

NOTE:  Journeys with Jesus is now on sale at

The map at the top of this post is a snapshot of a portion of the gameboard for Journeys with Jesus

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Note: all scripture quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the World English Bible which is in the public domain. 

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