Posted by: Pastor Terry Hagedorn | October 25, 2018

The Withered Fig Tree – An Object Lesson of Judgment and Faith. Dr. Robert Horton

Matthew 21:18-22 and Mark 11:12-14, 20-24 record the account of a “cursed” fig tree (Mk. 11:21).

This occurred during the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. The day after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus was hungry as He was returning to the city. (Jesus has a real human nature and experienced during His time on earth the normal needs of a human being for food and rest.) Knowing that figs bud before leaves appear, He went to the tree with leaves expecting to pick and eat some green figs. The tree, however, had no figs. Jesus then declared “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” Passing by the tree again the next day, the disciples saw that it was “dried up from the roots.”

Jesus used what He did to the fig tree as an object lesson. During His entire earthly ministry up to this point, all His miracles were for the good of the people who came to Him. In contrast, this miracle was negative. It was against an inanimate object; He did not make a person the object of His displeasure. He came to a tree that gave evidence of being productive, but it was all a show without fruit. Jesus made clear that such was unacceptable. Israel for all its show of religiosity was soon to bear the judgment of God for its lack of true godliness. The same will hold true for individuals. God desires fruitfulness, not just a display of religion. It is not profession but productiveness that counts. Saying spiritual things and doing nothing provides no value, e.g., “‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” (Jas. 2:16). Jesus makes the fig tree an object of judgment on hypocrites.

Further, Jesus also makes His action an object lesson on faith. The disciples marvel at the speed at which the tree completely withered away. Jesus assures His disciples that if they have faith they could cast the Mount of Olives into the sea. With faith in God, they would be able to perform miracles. As He tells them a couple days later, they will do even greater works than He had done (Jn. 14:12). While they never moved mountains, the apostles went on to exercise great faith, healing the sick, casting out demons, even raising the dead. And faith continues to be a condition of prayer. Miracles such as Christ and the apostles performed did not continue, but faith in God and the promises in His word remain the backbone of prayer. Faithful prayer based on the Word of God, for the glory of God, and the good of His people is heard in heaven and answered on earth.

Let us learn from the object lesson Jesus gave to avoid judgment and to pray in faith for things agreeable to His word.


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