Journeys of Jesus: Bethany Beyond the Jordan to Cana

The gospel of John often provides details that we don’t find in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). What Jesus did and where He went after being tempted in the Wilderness is a good example of that.

All three of the synoptic gospels say that, immediately after His baptism, Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted (Matthew 4:1, Mark 1:12, Luke 4:1) and then, after His temptation, they say “Now when Jesus heard that John was delivered up, he withdrew into Galilee.” (Matthew 4:12, Mark 1:14, Luke 4:14).

In contrast, John doesn’t say anything about Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, but instead tells about Jesus attracting disciples where John had been baptizing (Bethany beyond the Jordan). Andrew (John 1:40), Simon Peter (John 1:41-42), Philip (John 1:43), and Nethanel (John 1:49) all started following Jesus at this time.

Chapter 2 of John’s gospel begins with Jesus and His disciples traveling to Cana for a wedding. This journey would be about 80 miles, which would take about 27 hours to walk.

The third day, there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus also was invited, with his disciples, to the wedding.” (John 2:1-2)

It’s not clear whether these things happened before or after Jesus’ temptation. My guess is that they happened after, but it doesn’t really matter. Jesus began His ministry, began attracting followers, and went to Cana.

We don’t know much about Cana. It apparently was near Nazareth and there are different theories as to where exactly it was. It likely wasn’t a major town and yet it plays a relatively significant role in the Gospels. 

This is the first recording of a public miracle performed by Jesus. He turned water into wine at the wedding.

“This beginning of his signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11)

Jesus returned to this area not long after and performed a second miracle.

“Jesus came therefore again to Cana of Galilee, where he made the water into wine. There was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.  …  Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way. Your son lives.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. … This is again the second sign that Jesus did, having come out of Judea into Galilee.” (John 4:46,50,54)

A third interesting link between the gospel story and Cana is that Jesus’ disciple Nathanael was from Cana (John 21:2). This is the same Nathanael who was critical of Nazareth, a town so close to Cana. 

“Nathanael said to him, ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?'” (John 1:46)

So, perhaps there was some regional rivalry between Cana and Nazareth. Suffice it to say that even those in Cana would agree that Jesus (the definition of good) coming out of Nazareth was a good thing!

The map at the top of this post is a snapshot of a portion of the current prototype 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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