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Jesus Is Twice a Victim of the Tall Poppy Syndrome.

Doug Garland
Doug Garland
4 min read
Jesus Is Twice a Victim of the Tall Poppy Syndrome.
Sea of Galilee. Photo by author.

Table of Contents

And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” Matthew 13:57
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Jesus Christ was born around 4 BCE in Bethlehem, a small town in Judea, under Roman occupation. His mother, Mary, was a young Jewish woman who conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit, according to Christian tradition, marking a miraculous virgin birth. His earthly father, Joseph, was a carpenter, and the family lived in Nazareth.

Very little is known about Jesus' early life. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke provide some details, including the family's flight to Egypt to escape King Herod's massacre of infants in Bethlehem. They remained there until Herod's death, after which they returned to the region of Galilee, settling in the small town of Nazareth.

Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a modest and isolated village of 400 mostly peasants. His early life is largely undocumented, but it is believed that he lived a typical life for a Jewish boy of that time, learning carpentry from Joseph.

Jesus, age 12, is recorded to have visited Jerusalem with his parents for the Passover festival, where he impressed temple teachers with his understanding and knowledge. This incident marks the only significant account of his childhood in the New Testament.

Jesus, 30 or so, began his public ministry, a transformative period of about three years, primarily in Galilee and Judea. His ministry commenced after his baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. This event was marked by a divine revelation where a voice from heaven declared Jesus as God's beloved Son. Following his baptism, Jesus spent forty days fasting in the wilderness, resisting temptations from Satan, and preparing for his mission.

Jesus' ministry in Galilee was characterized by teaching, preaching, and performing miracles. He traveled through towns and villages, including Capernaum, which became a central hub for his activities. Capernaum, located by the Sea of Galilee, was a home base.

Many of Jesus' teachings occurred outdoors on hillsides, by the lakeshore, and in homes, making his message accessible to all. He often taught using parables—simple stories with profound spiritual and moral lessons.

Jesus' growing popularity and his radical teachings, which often challenged established religious authorities and social norms, led to increasing opposition from Jewish leaders. His message of a spiritual kingdom rather than a political one disappointed many who hoped for a Messiah to liberate them from Roman rule. Despite this, Jesus continued to preach, gather disciples, and prepare them to carry on his mission.

Matthew 13:53-58 (ESV)

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there,
54 and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?
55 Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”
57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.”
58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

Jesus' hometown citizens rejected him. How did he get so smart? I like his message but wait a minute. Isn't he just one of us (bad envy)? Who does he think he is? He has gotten too big for his britches. We need to cut him down a notch.

There is no finer, although sad, example of peer-to-peer TPS (see Anatomy of the TALL POPPY SYNDROME) - cut down by one's tribe or peers by bad envy. Matthew was not the first to describe TPS. That honor goes to the Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century BC (The Tall Poppy Syndrome - The Joy of Cutting Others Down).

The final week of Jesus' life, known as the Passion Week, began with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where crowds hailed him as the Messiah. However, tensions quickly escalated. Jesus cleansed the temple of money changers, condemning the commercialization of sacred spaces. During the Last Supper with his disciples, he instituted the practice of communion, symbolically offering his body and blood through bread and wine. This meal also included his prediction of betrayal by one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot.

Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, following Judas' betrayal. He underwent a series of trials before Jewish and Roman authorities, including the Sanhedrin, Pontius Pilate, and Herod Antipas.

The charges against Jesus varied depending on the perspective of his accusers:

Blasphemy. Jewish religious leaders accused Jesus of blasphemy, claiming that he made himself equal with God by forgiving sins and calling himself the Son of God (Mark 14:61-64, John 10:33).

Threat to the Temple. Jesus was accused of speaking against the Temple and its customs. His prediction of the Temple's destruction was used as evidence against him (Mark 14:58, Acts 6:14).

Political Insurrection. The Roman authorities, particularly Pontius Pilate, were concerned about Jesus being a potential political threat. He was accused of claiming to be the King of the Jews, which could incite rebellion against Roman rule (Luke 23:2, John 19:12).

Sedition. Jesus' actions and teachings were seen as a challenge to the established religious and political order. His entry into Jerusalem and popularity among the people were perceived as potentially seditious (Matthew 21:9, John 12:19).

These charges led to his condemnation and ultimate cut down (crucifixion), despite Pilate's initial hesitation to sentence him. Pilate was weak and the pressure was great from the crowd and religious leaders.

There is no finer example, also sadly, of public TPS. Reasons vary but in the end, Jesus was an obstacle to secular and religious laws and rule of the land. Suppression was the only answer.

Three days after his death, Jesus rose from the dead, a cornerstone event in the Christian faith known as the Resurrection. He appeared to his disciples and many others for forty days, proving he was alive and reinforcing his teachings.

Jesus' resurrection made him the ultimate stone poppy (see Vladimir Kara-Murza, Courage and the Tall Poppy Syndrome).

Jesus Christtall poppy syndromeGospel of Matthewbad envyChistianityGalilee

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Douglas Garland, M.D. practiced orthopedic surgery for 37 years in Southern California. Doug was also a Clinical Professor of Orthopedics at the University of Southern California.

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