Skip to content

3. The Unfruitful Fig Tree Cursed
(Matthew 21:18-22)
18Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry.19And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.20And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”21So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, 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 also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.22And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Mark11:12-14,20-24, Luke13:6, Matthew17:20)

As Christ returned to Jerusalem, He became hungry. Being “the Son of Man,” he submitted to the infirmities of nature. He was so intent upon His work that he neglected His food. The zeal of God’s house did “eat Him up,” and His meat and drink was to do His Father’s will. He did not please Himself, but chose instead to eat green raw figs for His breakfast, when it was necessary that He should eat something.
Christ hungered so that He might have occasion to work this miracle. In causing the barren fig tree to wither, He demonstrated His justice and His power.
Christ intended to show His disciples the spiritual need of the nation by a visible example. He cursed the fig tree because it had only leaves. His word to that tree was a prophecy of the future of the Jews. It was also a warning to the nations that God’s judgment would fall on them if they did not live what they preached, thus bearing fruit to God.
What are the good fruits that Jesus seeks in us? They are faith, love, and hope. Living with Christ causes these fruits to grow in us.
Christ does not seek from us philosophical thoughts, complex beliefs, keeping hundreds of laws, or memorizing scripture verses. Rather, He seeks our salvation, sanctification, and partnership in His divine nature. In this way, we depart from corruption and live in purity, prudence, and love, as we render our services to God and men.
The cursing of the barren fig tree expresses the judgment of Christ on hypocrites in general. It teaches us that the fruit of fig trees can justly be expected from those that have leaves. Christ looks for the results of religion from those who make profession of it. He hungers after it; His soul desires the first ripe fruits. Christ’s expectations from professors are often frustrated by their attitudes and lives. He comes seeking fruit but finds only leaves. Many people have a reputation of being alive, but are not really so. They are interested in the form of godliness, but deny the power of it.
True faith is not achieved by thought only, but by communion with the power of Christ. Those who live with Him pray in accordance with His will and experience His power, Their lives remain in conformity with their Lord. Then they are able to think with Him, want what He wants, and communicate His power to others.
The prayers of those who are filled with the Word of God are accepted by the Holy One. Study the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, and carry out their meanings day and night. Then Christ will remove mountains of sins and hatred.
Christ expects you to believe in His mercy, trust His providence, hear His word, come to Him humbly, and accept Him personally as your faithful Savior. When you do, He will implement His eternal promise so that you may experience His power, His keeping, and His glorious blessings. Faith means union with Christ, who will never leave you. If you commit yourself to Him and continue in Him, His love will work in your infirmity. He is the Savior and is still saving the world with all of His power and compassion.

Beloved Father, we thank You for the new covenant You made with us in Your Son, and ask that Your Spirit produce much fruit in us and in others. We ask that hatred and lying be ended in our houses, and that Your peace and joy prevail among us. Create in our nation true faith in the divinity of Your Son that all the desires of Your Holy Spirit be realized in us, in order that judgment will not fall on us, but that we will bear real fruit to glorify Your holy name.
Why did Jesus curse the unfruitful fig tree?