Matthew 21:18–22 (ESV)
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it,
“May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.
20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at
once?” 21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and
thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
What the heck is going on here? The disciples are trying to figure out what happened to the tree. They are not looking for the teaching example that Jesus is employing. They are marveling at how the fig tree withered at once.
Let’s take a deeper look. The Lutheran Study Bible states: “By cursing a fruitless fig tree, Jesus reveals symbolically God’s judgment against the faithless and fruitless portion of His covenant people. Though we are saved by faith
alone, producing fruit for God and His kingdom is not optional. Though faithlessness rightly deserves God’s wrath, God Himself works faithfulness in us and grants a rich reward of blessings.
I pray: Lord Jesus, You are the true vine. Apart from You, we can do nothing. Keep us united to You, that we produce abundant fruit to
Your glory. Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The
Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 1628.