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Commentary » Matthew 21:12-Matthew 21:22 »

The Fuitless Fig Tree

At the Sudan Interior Mission Kijabe Medical Center, SIM medical missionaries Bob and Marion Bowers treated a young man with a paralyzing snake bite and saw him live long enough to accept Christ as his Savior. In many Third World countries, snake bites are common-and fatal. For f … More


On the Monday morning following Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem He was hungry (v. 18). He saw a fig tree by the side of the road and noticed that it was covered by leaves. As he drew closer to the tree He discovered that there was no fruit on it. Figs normally came before the leaves, so here was a profession of bearing fruit when actually there was no fruit. In the Old Testament Israel often was likened to a fig tree. Just as this tree had leaves but no fruit, so Israel had a show of religion but no practical experience of faith.

When Jesus found no figs on the tree He cursed it and it immediately withered (v. 19). The curse was not because He was angry but to teach several lessons. God wants to produce fruit in the lives of His people. This tree was just taking up space and doing no good. Struck dead by the word of Jesus, the tree began to dry up from the roots. We too must beware of the peril of fruitlessness.

The disciples were amazed at how quickly the fig tree withered (v. 20). They continually marveled at the overwhelming powerful miracles that the Lord performed (Matt. 9:33; Mark 4:41, etc,). The same power is available to us by faith when we share the gospel and watch the miracle of new birth take place in others. Then Jesus assured them that if they had faith and didn’t doubt they could have whatever they ask for (vv. 21-22). The same power that killed the tree could have also given it new life and fruit. It is easy to just sit, soak and sour on the word and not be a fruit bearing Christian.


According to this passage it is dangerous not to be a fruit bearing Christian. To be a Christian and never bear fruit puts me in the same position as the fig tree. What reason would the Lord have for leaving me on this earth?

Matthew 21:12-22 (English Standard Version)

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you make it a den of robbers." And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant, and they said to him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, "'Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise'?" And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there. In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 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. When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither at once?" 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. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith."

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »