Scripture: Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, 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.” Matthew 21:21,22 NIV
Observation: Jesus is teaching his disciples a truth about faith.
Application: Wow! As I read this today it occurred to me that I don’t think that I have the correct faith. I really don’t believe that I can coax God into throwing a mountain into an ocean. Do I believe that God can? Without a doubt! Do I believe that He will to prove my faith? No, to me that is akin to testing God. So how do I reconcile what the Word says and what I believe that it means? I went searching my Contrib section and found an entry by Tom Hogsed. As I read his understanding I realized that I was taking 21 and 22 out of context. They needed to be included with 18-20 to be fully understood. Tom’s writing is untitled, it covers Matthew 21:18-22 and it follows,
“On the surface this passage seems to be an action that Jesus did out of frustration, but upon closer examination He seems to be actually drawing some symbolism as well as teaching a spiritual lesson on faith. As Jesus returns to the city of Jerusalem in the morning He is hungry and stops by a fruit tree along the way but instead of finding figs He discovers a barren tree (21:19). Seemingly frustrated Jesus curses the fig tree and commands that no fruit grow on it ever again and immediately the tree withers. To me, this appears pretty harsh; however, the disciples thought it was pretty cool because they marveled that He was able to speak a curse and the tree withered (21:20). The disciples had a thing with power and were often amazed when Jesus performed a miracle. But, Jesus was teaching a greater lesson. The fig tree is often symbolic of Israel (see Hosea 9:10; Joel 1:7) and in reality its’ fruitlessness represented their rejection of Him in addition to their failure to follow God’s ways. As God’s chosen people, Israel had been given many spiritual and physical blessings but oftentimes found the evil around them more attractive than obeying God. Jesus would allow judgment to fall upon Israel for their failure to produce spiritual fruit (see Galatians 5:16-25 for a discussion of spiritual fruit). The disciples then question about His power to curse the fig tree and Jesus encourages them that if they have faith they can perform this miracle and also move mountains (21:21). He is quick to remind them that this power only comes through asking God in prayer and believing that He can do it (21:22). The application in this situation is two-fold. First, as a “tree” is God’s field, are you producing spiritual fruit? Your life should be drawing others to worship God alone. Secondly, do you realize you can accomplish God’s will through prayer and faith in Him? God always enables us to do His will when we turn control over to Him and believe that He can do great things through us. Have you reached that potential?” Thank you Tom.
Prayer: Tom closes with the following, “Dear God, cause me to produce spiritual fruit so I can accomplish Your will and draw others to You.”