This is an unusual teaching for on the surface it might look like the Lord was being vindictive or cursing. But this is not the case, as we will see. There are several messages here, the main one being to ask in faith and it will be done.
First we see the Lord come to a fig tree in the morning seeking fruit for he was hungry. But there was no fruit on the tree and he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again.” (Verse 19) The tree then withered at once at these words, and the disciples marvelled at this turn of events.
Now there is a lesson to ask in faith and it will be done coming, but there is also an allegory in this message too. Jesus came to this tree expecting to find fruit. It was a healthy tree for it was covered in leaves and we must presume that there should have been fruit on it. Under normal circumstances it takes a fig tree some years to produce fruit. They can produce as early as two years after planting, but 4-5 years is more typical. Thus they need fertilisation, water, food and sunlight to ensure they crop well.
Christians are like these fig trees. We are expected to show some fruit over the course of time. Christians are called to walk with Jesus, which indicates a steady progression forward. As we progress we should mature and like the fig tree in due course we should begin to bear fruit. Jesus does not expect us to bear fruit immediately. There may be many issues in our lives to be dealt with first, but eventually a Christian should begin to bear fruit. This allegory of the fig tree seems to suggest that as the fig tree was expected to have fruit, which may have been a tree of four or five or more years old, so too we should be seeing some fruit in our life after a similar time frame. We should begin to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-24.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.
24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
This is the fruit we should be bearing as we mature in Christ, the most important being that we crucify or put to death the passions and desires of our flesh. And we see a warning that if we do not bear fruit as the fig tree bore no fruit, we may be uprooted to wither and die spiritually.
The disciples marvelled at the withering of the fig tree. But Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and never 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 cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Verses 21-22)
The power of prayer and faith combined is an awesome thing. The promise the Lord gave us here that whatever we ask in prayer, if we ask in faith, we will receive is something to truly marvel at. The withering of the fig tree caused the disciples to marvel, but the promise of the Lord is much more marvellous. When we seek the Lord and look to him, when we put our requests, problems and issues to him, do so in faith and know fully that they will be done. This is Jesus promise to his people. If you believe you can move mountains, and you ask the Lord in faith, know that it will happen.
Naturally there would need to be a good reason to have the mountain moved and it would need to be in the Lord’s will, but you must know that if that is the situation, it will be done if you ask in faith. Jesus does not want us to be frivolous in our prayers, but to commit to him those things that are important to us. He might still say no, but he will do that for a reason. Sometimes we do not know what the future holds and to have the mountain moved might not be what is required. The mountain may be providing us with protection or a barrier from cyclonic winds or trouble on the other side. We may not find this out until later and then see the wisdom of the Lord in saying no to us. But if this is not the case, then the mountain will be moved if we ask the Lord in faith.