[Jesus] went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, “John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” And many believed in him there.
— John 10:40-42 (NRSV)
In this scripture passage, the apostle John records a detail that is often overlooked. As Jesus makes his final journey toward Jerusalem, John says that Jesus crosses the Jordan river at the place where John the Baptizer had met him a few years earlier. Jesus’ wading through the Jordan and crossing into more Romanized territories — instead of playing it safe and sojourning among his Jewish compatriots — crystallizes the global, intercessory mission of the people of Israel, Jesus, and the church.
Throughout the Bible, crossing through water symbolizes the birth of something new: a new covenant people (Ex. 14:21-25 and Josh. 3), a new advent of God (Mk. 1:9-10), and now a renewed mission to “go into all the world and proclaim the good news” (Mk. 16:15), and not just to those who look, think, and act like us. John Wesley, one of the founders of the Methodist movement, paraphrased this call with the words, “the world is my parish.”
As we move into the heart of 2023, will we have the holy courage to wade into the depths of God’s love and grace, follow Jesus “across the Jordan”? Let us remember our baptism and renew our commitment to our global gospel mission.