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Matthew 21:18-22: Withered Fig Tree

Posted by adventbiblestudy on June 22, 2012


Matthew 21:18-22 In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, (19) and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up. (20) The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” (21) Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. (22) You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

After Jesus cleaned the temple court, He did not feel safe staying in Jerusalem. Although there were thousands supporting Him, the vengeful feelings of the priests was running deep. He had exposed the folly of their religion, and publicly humiliated them. The Spirit told Jesus, they needed some time to cool off. At that moment they were capable anything in their search for vengeance. Jesus was surrounded by hundreds of people leaving the temple and found it easy to get lost in the crowd. Almost by instinct, people passed in front of, and did a number of other things to delay the contingency of guards sent to follow Jesus. In no time at all, He was a safe distance away.

After spending the night in Bethany, Jesus began the journey back to Jerusalem. To avoid the crowds, He gathered His disciples before sunrise. On the road he began to feel hungry. Just ahead He noticed was a fig tree in full leaf beside the road. Jesus stopped at the tree, carefully examining every branch. His disciples began to wonder why Jesus was spending so much time looking over every branch. From a distance they could tell there was no fruit on the tree. After circling the tree many times, moving branches, shaking limbs, running His fingers over the smallest branches, Jesus finally stepped back. It appeared as if He was about to weep. This made the disciples very sad. They thought, if they had cared for their Master, they would have paid attention to the preparations for the short journey. Could it be, they had become so reliant upon Jesus, they lost the desire to be responsible for the smallest detail? Jesus lifted His head and said to the tree, “May you never bear fruit again!”

Immediately the leaves began to turn colors, wither and fall. In the matter of minutes they lay as a mass of dried rubble on the ground. The disciples looked in wonder at the shape of the tree as if they had never seen one without leaves. Every limb was lined with tiny branches, half the length of a finger, pointing out in all directions. The tree reminded them of a huge thorn bush. The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?”

Jesus did not do this because He was angry or disappointed with the tree. He did it to illustrate an important lesson directly related to His actions the day before. He hoped the disciples understood the spiritual lesson so they would not misinterpret the His next comment. He told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

The disciples knew when Jesus began a sentence with, “I tell you the truth,” it was important, and it referred to a spiritual lesson. The disciples knew they would not be withering trees as Jesus just did, or casting physical mountains into the sea. They had been to many mountains and saw the people, homes, and animals living on them. They knew Jesus would never do a thing to harm them. Going over the words they searched and prayed for the spiritual meaning that would show them what mountains they would one day move.

One Response to “Matthew 21:18-22: Withered Fig Tree”

  1. so touching, may God help us to grrow strong in faith.

    Like

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