In what is a horror story we see the power of manipulation:

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 muchthat 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 and had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. (Matthew 14 v 5-11)

Herod had stolen Herodias from his half-brother, Philip, this affair was the major headline gossip. John the Baptist had spoken up and he was paying for it in prison.

Mark says in his gospel that it was Herodias that wanted to kill John, Matthew says Herod also had the idea. Putting them both together it would seem that Herod decided not to kill John because a) as Matthew says he was afraid of the people and b) he had started to enjoy conversations with John. However, Herodias had plans.

Be alert: the one who dances in front of you may be manipulating you. (Herod and the daughter)

  • When the focus is on you (it was his birthday) your ego is not far away.
  • Generosity that flows from personal satisfaction is a payment which may give you pain.

Be alert: the one who coaches you may be manipulating you. (Herodias and her daughter)

  • The bitterness of the past generation will find a way to continue to grow.
  • When you take on someone else’s spitefulness then you become complicit with it.

Be alert: you are capable of manipulating yourself. (Herod)

  • What you boast and the accolades you receive can trap you to be what you never wanted to be.
  • If what distresses you doesn’t stop you then it isn’t deep enough.

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