Dominus Flevet (The Lord Wept)


Dominus Flevet – The Lord Wept
Brian Zahnd

“And when Jesus drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.’” –Luke 19:41, 42

Today is my birthday and I’m with Peri in the Old City of Jerusalem; we’re spending a few days here before leading a pilgrim tour of the Holy Land. This morning we began our day with prayer in the beautiful Church of All Nations located in the Garden of Gethsemane. We then walked to Bethany so we could retrace Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into the city of Jerusalem.

On what we now call Palm Sunday Jesus arrived in Jerusalem as the long-awaited Messiah and King of All Nations. Unlike Pilate who entered the city from the west riding a warhorse (there’s always some dude on a horse!), Jesus entered the city from the east riding a lowly donkey in a deliberate embrace of Zechariah’s prophecy about a humble king who would come to teach peace to the nations.

From the Mount of Olives the city of Jerusalem spreads out in a dramatic panorama, and about halfway down the Mount of Olives there’s a Franciscan chapel in the shape of a tear drop known as Dominus Flevet (The Lord Wept). Since at least the Byzantine era Christians have venerated this spot as the location where Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. And why did Jesus weep? Because Jesus knew that in their hell-bent-for-destruction embrace of nationalism and militarism, Jerusalem was blind to the things that make for peace. Within a generation of the Lord’s tearful prediction, Jerusalem became a smoldering Gehenna — a literal hell “where the fire is not quenched and the worm dieth not.” It was for this horrible (but preventable!) fate that Jesus shed his prophetic tears.

When we entered the tiny tear-drop chapel with its breathtaking view of Jerusalem we found a solitary believer on his knees with his hands lifted in prayer. As I watched this prayerful follower of Jesus I had this thought: This is what the kingdom of God looks like. It is to such people that the hope of peace belongs.

In a world addicted to war, peace will not come by the hands of those clutching weapons and poised to push nuclear buttons — peace will only come by the hands of those who are open to love and dare to hold no weapon but prayer. If peace is to come, it will come because there are people who dare to believe peace is possible. There is no way to peace — peace is the way. But as long as we reject the things that make for peace — because we are more convinced by the way of war than the way of peace — the Lord weeps.

May we who call ourselves Christians have the courage to take the lead in the things that make for peace and prove ourselves to be true followers of the Prince of Peace.