Where is He?
The first question in the NT comes from man and concerns the Saviour: “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” (Matt. 2:2, AV). The first question in the OT was “Where art thou?” (Gen. 3: 9) and came from God to the lost sinner. These two questions give the key to understanding the difference between the Old and the New Testaments. The prime object of the OT was to deal with its first question, and to make known to the sinner his ruin and guilt. The main object of the NT is to reveal the Saviour to the sinner, who has been thus convicted and taught his need of salvation.
The birth of the Lord Jesus in Bethlehem was the fulfilment of many promises and prophecies. Yet when “He came to His own … his own received Him not” (John 1: 11). Thus the first question in the NT, “Where is he?”, only served to expose the hostility of mankind to God’s only begotten and well–beloved Son. This antagonism came out in Herod and “all Jerusalem with him” who were “troubled” (Matt. 2: 3) at the prospect of the Christ being in their midst—just as many are troubled now. Today Christ is a trouble to the schemes of Christendom and the world, who together are seeking to bring about a millennium without Him, and to bring peace to this earth without the “Prince of Peace” (Is. 9: 6). But such trouble does not come from a work of God in the souls of men. It comes from self, from the natural enmity of the heart to Christ, and brings neither safety nor deliverance. Only when trouble comes from God does it lead to salvation and peace.
The state of the chief priests and scribes was also manifested, for their knowledge of the Scriptures was placed at the service of Herod, and used in the attempt to destroy the child Jesus. They certainly knew the Scriptures well, and could readily turn to Micah 5:2 where it speaks of a ruler coming forth from Bethlehem, but they would not have that Ruler, or His rule. They thus stand out in marked contrast with the wise men. The magi wanted this Ruler. They wanted to find Him, but they did not find Him at Jerusalem. They had to turn their backs on the city in order to find Him at Bethlehem. Thus, while the head knowledge of those who knew the Scriptures was used against Christ, those who had love in their hearts were found at His feet worshipping Him.
This then is the interpretation of the question “Where is he?” in line with the context. However, it can also be applied more generally.
We may look on it as being put by God to the world now. ‘Where is HE?’ He asks ‘Where is the Saviour Whom I sent? Where is My beloved Son? I sent Him, what have you done with Him? He is not here! Where is He that was born King of the Jews?’ Where is He indeed? The Scriptures do not keep the answer from us: “against thy holy servant Jesus … both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with [the] nations, and peoples of Israel, have been gathered together” (Acts 4: 27) and “by [the] hand of lawless [men]” He was “crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23). The whole world (and not merely the Jews) was involved in putting that Blessed One to death. That is why there were three languages on the inscription on the cross: Hebrew the language of religion, Greek the language of culture and Latin the language of political power. Every type and class of man was represented. Jew and Gentile, king, priests, rulers and people—all were gathered together, and said with one voice ‘We will not that this man should reign over us’.
Yet the world dares to make merry over the commemoration of the Lord’s birth! What mockery! What profanity! What blasphemy! Heaven must break in upon all the insulting merry–making with the solemn question, ‘Where is He?’ Yes He was born at Bethlehem, yes He did come unto this world, but where is He now? Have you ever thought what Christmas Day must mean in heaven? What it must be in the sight of God? On this day more than any other, we might expect Him to specially demand ‘Where is He?’—while the world is celebrating His great gift which it has rejected, and will not have. By their presents to one another at this season, men witness against themselves by their rejection of God’s “unspeakable free gift” (2 Cor. 9: 15). The fact that “He is not here” (Luke 24: 6) speaks volumes to the world. Why is He not here? He was here once. Where is He? Ah! The answer is the condemnation of a world which is under judgment. It proves the guilt of the world, and demands the execution of that sentence of judgment which has been already passed. Yes, God holds the world guilty of the blood of His Son and He will yet demand an answer to His question, ‘Where is He?’ God hears the voice of that blood which cries aloud to Heaven, and calls for a vengeance more terrible than that of Abel, and soon He will answer its cry, and recompense the world for its awful deed.
If men put Him to death, God has “highly exalted him” (Phil. 2: 9). He is not here because He is risen and ascended: “But he, having offered one sacrifice for sins, sat down in perpetuity at [the] right hand of God, waiting from henceforth until his enemies be set [for the] footstool of his feet” (Heb. 10: 12–13). That is where He is, seated in heaven, and waiting. That is the answer to the question “Where is he?”
And then the first question of the Bible comes again to the saved sinner, as it once did to the lost sinner, “Where art thou?” When it first came, it showed me how far away I was from God, and how unsuitable I was for His holy presence: “And Jehovah Elohim called to Man, and said to him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I feared, because I am naked; and I hid myself” (Gen. 3: 9, 10). Now the question comes again to me as saved by grace, and tells me how near I am to God in Christ, made nigh by that very blood which cries from the ground for vengeance on the wicked hands which shed it. “Where art thou?” comes the question, and the answer now is—where He is, for “even as he is, we also are in this world.” (1 John 4:17). Once I was far off but now I have been made nigh and can sing:
A mind at ‘perfect peace’ with God, Oh! What a word is this;
A sinner reconciled through blood, This, this indeed is peace.
By nature and by practice far – How very far from God!
Yet now, by grace, brought nigh to Him, Through faith in Jesu’s blood.
So nigh, so very nigh to God, Nearer I cannot be;
For, in the Person of His Son, I am as near as He.
So dear, so very dear to God, More dear I cannot be;
The love wherewith He loves the Son, Such is His love to me.
Yes! “Even as he is, we also are in this world”. Is He seated? So are we, at perfect rest as to sin and sins, entered with boldness within the veil, made to “sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2: 6). Is He waiting? So are we: expecting Him, looking for Him, “awaiting the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2: 13). At rest, and yet reaching out with all our hearts for His coming again. Thus for the Christian, the answer to this question “Where is he?” is full of blessedness and peace.