Matthew 21:18-22 – “Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. 19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered. 20 Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, “How did the fig tree wither all at once?” 21 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” NASB
Have you ever wondered about this account in the Bible? Was this simply an example of Jesus being angry, and since the fig tree had leaves but no fruit, he cursed it? The disciples were amazed, not only by his words and action but by the result. If Jesus cursed it out of anger or frustration, He tainted His piousness and holiness by succumbing to man’s emotions and retaliating against an object that could not strike back. Not very Messianic if that were the case.
Mark’s account of this incident reveals several things that need to be considered. Jesus took note of the fig tree from afar or at a distance. He could see leaves, and in Palestine, the fruit appeared before the leaves. Therefore, He was right to expect it to have fruit. It had the appearance of fruit but no fruit. It was all show but no substance. Jesus was hungry for fruit and saw an object that cried out, “I have fruit,” but had none. What was His purpose in cursing the fig tree rather than simply walking away?
It was an object lesson for the disciples and all who would read and hear the account in perpetuity. But an “object lesson” of what? What was the lesson to be gleaned from this event? I believe He had multiple lessons He desired to convey. One that is often missed, so it seems, is that of appearance without corresponding fruit.
Sometimes people talk the talk without walking the walk. The Pharisees, in that day, loved to appear pious and holy, but inside, they were full of corruption. Jesus repeatedly taught about the heart versus the outward appearance. He used this as an opportunity to teach a lesson on prayer, faith, righteousness, and fruit-bearing. He wanted to emphasize the danger of appearing to be something you are not.
If you remember, in the Book of Acts, Ananias and Sapphira where they pretended to be something, but when exposed, it cost them their lives. That is a situation that is repeatedly warned against in Scripture. Our Confession must be backed up by our manifestation of “Christ in us, the Hope of Glory.” Jesus even said, “Not everyone that says to me Lord, Lord will enter in but the one that DOES the will of the Father.”
A second lesson He was conveying was the power of Prayer and Faith in facing any obstacle in life. The statement of Jesus, “…if you have faith and do not doubt…” is directly connected to what is manifested in our hearts, not what we Profess or Confess. It is not what we appear to be, but what we are that opens the door to faith that dries up fig trees or moves mountains in life.
Notice that in the last verse, our Lord says, “And…” that is an important word because it connects the message to the previous verses, including the fig tree’s cursing. He says, “And, all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Not to chase a rabbit down another trail, but how much does ALL cover? The directive was Prayer, Believing, and Receiving, which includes expectation.
If we are to develop our prayer lives and our faith lives to the place of moving mountains and seeing problems wither, We Must become what we appear to be. If we are professing and confessing that we are Christians, then We Must manifest the life of Christ in us. We must have the Gifts of the Spirit operational in our lives and manifest the Fruit of the Spirit in our hearts. It is one thing to talk the talk but another to back up that talk with the walk that embodies what we profess.
The fig tree is a warning and appeal. A warning against being all show and an appeal to allow the Holy Spirit to make Jesus so alive in our hearts that we have His mind in us and trust Him completely in all things.
God bless you richly as you go through this wonderful day!