"Living Consistently" Matthew 21:18-22
This Week’s Core Behavior: Giving Away My Faith I give away my faith to fulfill God's purposes.
Ephesians 6:16-20 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Scripture: Scripture: Matthew 21:18-22
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.”
The Message of this Passage:
From Ligonier Ministries: “How can a good man curse an ‘innocent’ fig tree? they ask. And, if Jesus is omniscient, why does He expect figs when it is not fig season?
These objections are easily answered. First, Christ, as God the Son, has authority over His creation and the sovereign right to do with it what He wills. Jesus, therefore, can curse the fig tree if He so desires. Second, understanding what it means for figs to be in season shows us how Jesus can expect fruit when it is not fig season. During springtime, Palestinian fig trees begin producing taksh — Arabic for immature, edible figs. Ripe, sweet figs are harvested in the summer, the season for figs to which Mark’s gospel refers. Lush foliage signals that taksh are present; thus, Jesus rightly expects fruit when He combs through the leaves; yet appearances are deceiving in this case.
Our Savior’s curse does more than just express His righteous anger at the lack of figs. Jesus curses the fig tree in the context of His teaching on hypocrisy: He casts out temple merchants who exploit others while claiming to serve God; He must deal with religious authorities who will not recognize John the Baptist’s divine authority (vv. 23–27); He tells a parable that condemns those who pledge service but then do nothing (vv. 28–32). Moreover, the Old Testament sometimes speaks of covenant-breaking Israel as a barren fig tree. Christ’s curse is a foreshadowing of what will happen to hypocrites — those Israelites who, like the fig trees with leaves, promise fruit but fail to deliver.
This lesson escapes the Twelve, who are more amazed at the speed with which Jesus’ words come true. Christ does not focus in on hypocrisy; that will come later (vv. 28–32). Instead, He teaches on prayer, informing His followers that believing prayer can accomplish great things (vv. 21–22).”
Matthew Henry writes, “The fruit of fig trees may justly be expected from those who have the leaves. Christ looks for the power of religion from those who make profession of it.” The cursing of the fig tree is a sobering reminder of just how much the Lord hates hypocrisy. As Christians we must live consistently with what we say we believe. An unbelieving world is watching us; therefore, let it only see those who practice what they preach.
For Personal Reflection and Discussion:
How did the withered fig tree incident affect the disciples? (21:20)
How does it affect you?
What does it mean when Christians just make leaves?
How do you see Jesus' sovereignty in this passage?
What can you learn from this passage's emphasis to not doubt or worry? Why do you doubt? Why should you not doubt? How can you keep from doubting?
How would you illustrate the power and significance of faith?
Read Rom. 12:2 and Phil. 4:8: Why is it that without faith, trust, and prayer a Christian can do nothing-no growth, no fruit, no ministry, and no impact?
What is the significance of obedience, as applied to faith?
Read verses 23-25 reflect on what Jesus might have meant in these verses.
God is the source of all change. Moving a mountain is sometimes symbolic of doing something humanly impossible. Jesus was teaching His disciples that with faith, they can accomplish what appears to be impossible (see Philippians 4:13). Does this mean if we ask for anything, God will give it to us? What do you think? Ask yourself: “Is what I am praying for part of God’s will for my life
What can you learn from today’s passage?