Was Jesus’ curse of the fig tree a moment of hungry impatience or a valuable lesson? Did the Messiah drop his guard in a moment of weakness or retain his resolve as he strived for the cross?
Jesus’ curse was a lesson, and a frightening one. In season or out of season, Jesus expects his people to bear fruit through faith. On the last day, the judgment of mankind will consist of being asked to show what has been done for his sake. Those found without true faith, found without the fruit that is produced by genuine faith, will be destroyed at the Savior’s command just like this fig tree.
When the disciples asked how the tree could wither so quickly, Jesus’ response was wholly unanticipated. Faith brings forth power. By faith, we have access to Jesus’ forgiveness and love. We have access to the Father who is pleased with his Son and those who cover themselves with his blood and righteousness. And with faith we have access to real power. We can do anything God desires through his Name by faith. \
They key phrase here, however, is by faith. And faith requires knowing what the will of God is in those situations that he might use us to demonstrate his power. So his power does not come so that we can do whatever we wish. God will not work his power through us to perform magic tricks to satisfy skeptics who would just try explain away any miracle they witnessed. Power comes with the wisdom and discipline to use it as God directs, when he directs it.
Yet such power does exist and is available to those who cling to Jesus by faith and who resist becoming lazy, complacent and as fruitless as the withering fig tree. Jesus will not tolerate idleness. Laziness is not a symptom of faith. Jesus asks for our full trust and as such asks that we serve others through that trust and project his mercy and lovingkindness to the world.
Image: Ficas carica, courtesy of Kurt Stueber.