37 – Lacking Fruit
On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because gall the crowd was astonished at his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city.
As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
- Money-changer: People who sold special types of money to use in the temple
- Curse: Wishing something nasty to happen
- Wither: To become dry and shrivelled
- Trespasses: Sins, things we have done against God
Thinking of some of Jesus’s other parables, what do you think his words to the fig tree mean?
What are the similarities between the fig tree and the temple?
Imagine that you want food and you realise that your kitchen cupboards are completely empty. If you were to get angry with the cupboard your family would think that you had gone completely mad! Perhaps reading Jesus’s words to the tree you are thinking the same about him. But once again Jesus is using things as symbols in order to teach something to his disciples.
When Jesus went to the temple, what was he expecting to see? This was the most holy place for the Jewish faith, the place where men were able to come to worship God. The place ought to have been full of spiritual fruit – people worshipping God and caring for each other. But what he saw was men buying and selling, while cheating people out of their money; using the house of God in order to steal. When he came to the temple Jesus saw that there was no spiritual fruit there, exactly like the fig tree! When the disciples see that the fig tree has died, Jesus explains to them that faith can accomplish anything.
But why does Jesus use throwing a mountain into the sea as an example? The mountain he is referring to is the mountain that Jerusalem and the temple were built on. Jesus tells them that a new order has begun, with him as its King. There is no need for the temple now because they would not meet God there anymore but would meet him in Jesus Christ. If you have faith in him and believe that he is sufficient to save you, then you can throw the temple away.
There are two obvious consequences to this faith. Firstly, if we have faith, then we receive what we have asked for. But the real nature of faith is to think in the same way as Jesus Christ; therefore, if we pray in faith, we will obviously ask for that which he believes is the best. The second consequence is that our faith changes the way in which we treat others. If we have received forgiveness from God, then how can we not forgive other people? If we continue to be angry with someone, without forgiving them, it is impossible to pray in faith.
Why is faith so important when we pray?
Why is forgiving others important?
for faith to believe that God will give what you ask for in Jesus’s name.