Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.
He found nothing. John, the last of the old covenant prophets, urged the religious Jews to “Bear the fruit of repentance” (Matt 3:8), but they didn’t listen. Then for three years Jesus searched Israel in vain for the fruit of faith. When Jesus entered Jerusalem at the start of his final week, the people waved branches without fruit and the next morning, Jesus cursed a fruitless fig tree (see next verse).
He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.
The cursing of the fruitless fig tree was a prophetic act symbolizing Israel’s self-inflicted rejection. See entry for Mark 11:21.
Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.”
Withered. The Israelites cut themselves off through unbelief. “God did not reject his people … they were broken off because of unbelief” (Rom. 11:2, 20).
The religious Jews trusted in themselves. Their source was self and their root was their downfall. Just as the fig tree withered from the roots up, the religious Jews rotted from the inside-out. What should they have done? They should have listened to Jesus. They should have abandoned their quest for self-improvement, put their faith in God, and allowed themselves to be grafted into the living Vine.
And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God.
Have faith in God. The vast majority of first-century Jews had faith in God and this would have been true of the disciples. They believed that God was one (Jas. 2:19). But while this is a good start, this is not a saving faith (see entry for Jas. 2:14), and it’s not the kind of faith that moves mountains.
“Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.
(a) Does not doubt. Doubt is a faith-killer. The one who doubts has the mind of a storm-tossed sea (Jas. 1:6). The remedy to doubt is not to whip yourself into a frenzy of DIY faith, but to remind yourself of the goodness of God.
(b) But believes. To have faith is to be persuaded that God is who he says he is. Faith is a persuasion or a noun, while believing is a work or a verb. It is possible to have faith in God yet still be captive to doubt and unbelief.
“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.
Believe that you have received them. Everything comes to us by grace and is received by faith.
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.
(a) Your Father. The Almighty Creator wants you to relate to him as your loving Father. See entry for Matthew 5:16.
(a) Forgive; see entry for Forgiveness.
(b) Will also forgive you. The sole condition for receiving the gift of forgiveness is faith (see previous verse). But if you harbor unforgiveness in your heart, you’re going to have a hard time receiving God’s forgiveness. Conversely, when you know how much Christ has forgiven you, you will be empowered to forgive others (Col. 3:13). See entry for Luke 11:4.
[“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”]
This verse is in brackets and omitted from some Bibles as it does not appear in some manuscripts. It seems to be a repetition of something Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. See entry for Matthew 6:15.
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