Read Matthew 21:18-22.
The weight of the world was on him. He was already mourning the lack of faith he saw in those who, just the day before, had welcomed him triumphantly into the city. He was the only one who knew what was coming, knew the cost, knew the pain.
And then he couldn’t even get a snack to strengthen him. That stupid tree.
Yet, even in this, we see that nothing happens by chance. Every step Jesus made, every word he spoke, every action he took was within the perfect will of the Father and for a purpose. Even that tree.
When Matthew wrote about it, he said that Jesus not only noticed the tree, but noticed that it had leaves on it, which should have meant it had fruit as well. The reality did not meet the expectations — there was no fruit. Just like the crowds who carried on so about Jesus’ arrival. They looked like they worshiped him. They acted like they believed in him. The reality was, (and Jesus made the connection while looking at the tree), they would soon be the ones to call for his crucifixion.
Appearances can be deceiving.
So the tree was cursed. What good was a fig tree without figs? The transformation shocked the disciples. Here they were, following Jesus and still not understanding what he was all about or who he really was. These were the same men who had witnessed all his miracles, from the wine at the wedding to the raising of Lazarus. Why should they be shocked that he could cause a tree to wither?
“I tell you the truth,” replied Jesus. I hear it more like, “really guys, don’t you get it?” Then he addressed the issue:
If you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, “Go throw yourself into the sea,” and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
Jesus was able to wither the tree, because he was at one with the Father. When we have faith in God, his will becomes our will, and when we pray, we pray in confidence that he will accomplish what we ask in his name.
What was missing with the disciples? Faith plus the Holy Spirit. We see the difference in this group of men after Pentecost. They are praying and seeing God work in miraculous ways, because of the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Jesus knew that…he knew it about the crowds too. He knew that was why he was in the city to begin with. He had to pay the price for sin and doubt, so that those who believed in him would have the relationship with him that he already enjoyed with God.
Is your faith still sprinkled with doubt? Maybe your faith is misplaced. Faith must be in the one who paid the price for your sins on the cross and rose to give you eternal life. If it’s in anyone or anything else, then it will be like that fig tree…all leaves and no fruit.