Use Caution

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.

On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.

Matthew 14:1-12 (NIV)

When I was a youth and found myself in a difficult situation because of choices which I had made, my mother was fond of saying to me, “Well, I guess you have found yourself between a rock and a hard place.” I thought the saying was rather odd but seemed somewhat accurate. A warning she would often give to me was, “be careful you do not paint yourself into a corner.” Again, as a youth, I found her sayings a bit weird. Maturing, I realized they were not as weird as I had thought. In fact, they many times illustrated the challenges which can accompany choices and actions.

Herod is fearful that Jesus is the resurrected John, the Baptist, who he had beheaded after he found himself between a rock and a hard place when he painted himself into a corner. Herod had made a series of bad choices. He had been having an affair with the brother’s wife, Herodias. During a dinner party, he makes another bad choice by offering Herodias’s daughter anything she wanted up to half his kingdom since her dance had pleased him and his guests. Then when the girl asks for John’s head on a platter because her mom hated him for passing judgment on her affair Herod is stuck. When the request comes, Herod realizes he was forced to grant it or look like a fool to his guests.

Unfortunately, there are times in our lives that a choice, or a series of choices, can put us in difficult situations. Herod’s pride would not let him remove himself from the difficult situation so he makes another horrible choice by having John beheaded. We can learn from Herod. Be cautious not to let your choices, words, or actions paint you into a corner. When you make a bad choice, do not let your pride lead you to making an even worse one. Avoid putting yourself between a rock and a hard place.

I guess Mom’s sayings were not weird but wise.

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