Dominus Flevit means “The Lord wept,” and it was the next chapel that we visited after Pater Noster–just a short walk down the Mount of Olives.
Honestly, I wanted to weep when we first entered Jerusalem too, and not just because I spent a 10 hour flight being squished between two big guys: a Lutheran and a Catholic (they were very nice). We took a short bus ride from the Tel Aviv airport to a university on the Mount of Olives just to get a good view of the city in the evening. We were going to say a Psalm (Psalm 122) about Jerusalem. But when we stepped off the bus, all we could hear were the Muslim evening prayers which are broadcasted over some far-reaching loudspeaker from a minaret. The Muslim prayers were everywhere we went in Jerusalem, in Galilee, in Jordan. We heard them in the morning, the afternoon, the evening, but to me, it never seemed like a regular pattern of times. (Or maybe my sense of time was messed up.) We had our devotion anyway, just as we did at Nain and other places, speaking as well as we could over the prayers. But the division was ever present in these countries, a visible and audible reminder that many people in the world still reject our Savior.
When you look out of the window behind the altar at Dominus Flevit, you have a beautiful view of the Old City, but prominent in that view is the Temple Mount, bright golden. The Temple Mount was taken over by the Muslims and is not accessible to Jews or Christians. Jesus wept while on the Mount of Olives because He knew the Jews would reject Him, crucify Him, and He knew that the city and the temple would be destroyed by the Romans not long after His death.
And when he 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. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44
At first, it really seemed to us like a tragedy that the Temple has been turned into a mosque, that from the view in this beautiful little chapel, we are looking through a silhouette of Christ’s Body and Blood (see above the priest’s head) at something that was taken away from our God. But after thinking about it a bit, and talking about it with our pastor, our perspective changed. When Jesus died on the cross, He fulfilled the Old Testament sacrificial laws. He ended the need to sacrifice animals to atone for our sins, because He was the ultimate and final atonement for our sins.
“All those who believe and are baptized will be saved.”
“For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”
There is no need for a temple anymore, and really, it is probably better that there is not one (because, unfortunately, there are even Christians in the world who are confused about the need for a Temple).
But the division in the world is still sad, and that division is what makes the view from Dominus Flevit troubling. Many denounce the current persecution of Christians by militant members of the Muslim faith. But to me, the tragedy is not that Christians are persecuted for their faith, because the Lord makes it clear we will always be under persecution as long as He has not come (and those who suffer under persecution are blessed: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven“). The real tragedy is that there are so many people who do not know the love of Jesus Christ, the Savior who wept over them, who died for them, who loves them so much. So we must be careful in speaking about this, myself included. We must pray for those who declare us their enemies and show them the love of Christ. A God who loves them, who dies for them, who gives them rest from their labors: that is a God they do not know, and that is worth weeping over.
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Romans 12