18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

19But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, 20added to them all by shutting up John in prison.

herodHerod was not a nice man. He embodied that most frightening combination of qualities characteristic of insecure leaders.

He was autocratic, manipulative, violent, and abusive. These qualities were held together in a lethal package by his overriding paranoia.

When Herod felt threatened, he went on the attack. He refused to hear truth. He locked away the truth-teller in an attempt to silence any voice that might question his right and freedom to live completely according to the dictates of his own desires.

Although I have never thrown anyone in jail, I know there are times when I am inclined to be Herod. There are truths about myself I do not want to hear. When these uncomfortable realities surface, I turn away from the source of the truth; I resist and refuse to pay attention.

I do not want to see my own little compromises. I want to avoid facing the hypocrisies of my life. I seek to resist acknowledging the subtle lies I use in an attempt to control my world.

I have various techniques for silencing the truth-tellers in my life.

I go on the attack. I argue, complain, whine, negotiate, and project my fear onto my adversary in an attempt to avoid facing the uncomfortable reality being held up for me to consider.

It takes courage to listen to John the Baptist. His words penetrate to the core of my being. If I really listen, his words will begin to change me on the inside. The direction of my life will be altered. I will find old patterns and habits falling away.

John the Baptist is a threat to the comforting lies by which I choose to live. But, he also points to the only path to freedom and authenticity. If I am going to prepare to open to Jesus, I must begin by welcoming the voice of John the Baptist.