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Summary: Jesus’ curse upon the fruitless tree was not the result of a quick temper; instead, He used the occasion as an object lesson against hypocrisy and misrepresenting the truth.

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11-25-03

Title: The Fig Tree Withers

Text: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.”

(Matthew 21:21).

Bible Reading: Matthew 21:18-22

18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.

19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!

21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Pray for God’s blessing on this message.

There are just 5 verses to our text, but they can teach us a lot about faith, and works, and prayer.

We can even speak of the reaction of the disciples to the miracle, and the humanity of Christ.

Many people say that the fig tree represents the nation of Israel, so we could talk about that.

But instead, I will attempt to show you how important it is for a Christian to bear fruit, that is, to have good works that can be seen by others.

Therefore, let’s look at each verse in turn, beginning with the eighteenth.

18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.

The first thing that we find out is that Christ returned in the morning to Jerusalem.

He probably spent the night with friends in Bethany, which at that time was about 2 miles away.

That’s where His friend Lazarus lived, along with his sisters Mary and Martha.

Some people think that he left the city, because none of his friends there willing to have him in their home, for fear of the religious leaders who were His enemies.

Yet, Jesus had work to do there, so he returned.

Folks, let’s be like Jesus and let’s never be driven from serving our Lord, either by the wickedness of our enemies, or the unkindness of our friends.

Although, Jesus knew that in this city danger was waiting for him, He didn’t let it stop Him.

Another important thing we learn in this verse is that Jesus was hungry.

This proves that He was a genuine man and He had the same physical needs that we do.

He was an active Man, and He was so intent upon his work, that he neglected to eat.

He was a poor Man, so He wasn’t carrying any food with Him.

He was a Man that didn’t focus on pleasing Himself; therefore, He would gladly eat raw figs, if they were handy.

The next verse says:

19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

I have never seen a fig tree, but our story caused me to want to know what they’re like, so I did some research.

I discovered that a fig tree seldom grows above twelve feet, but we would describe it as being “full”, since there are many spreading branches, beginning at the bottom.

The fig tree fruit generally appears in February, but the leaves are not formed until late spring.

Therefore, there should have been some fruit on the tree.

The leaves have a dark green color, and they’re almost 9” long.

They are smooth and unevenly divided into three to five deep rounded lobes; and the fruit grows on short, thick stalks, that have a purplish color, and contain a soft, sweet, fragrant pulp, intermixed with numerous small seeds.

We know that Jesus was hungry, and when He saw the fig tree at some distance away, and that it was decked out with green leaves, He went to it expecting to find some fruit.

But there was nothing but leaves.

The leaves presented a false picture, indicating that fruit not only was present, but that it was large and ripe.

At that time all fruit trees were enclosed by a fence, and they had an owner.

Therefore, even though this tree was by the roadside, it must have been enclosed.

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