20 Early in the morning, as they were passing by, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. 21 Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 Jesus replied to them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, everything you pray and ask for—believe that you have received[a] it and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing.”
In yesterdays post, I mentioned that we’ve come to a series of difficult passages—tough sayings—spoken by our Lord. Our passage today is one that is often spoken of as an example of the humanity of Jesus. Who was this man, who cursed a fig tree for failing to produce fruit? Ironically, even as they oppose this Jesus, they acknowledge his divine power. Here was a man with the ability to wither a fig tree simply by his curse. Then, as he and his disciples passed the tree, along that famous ascent to Jerusalem (see Psalm 122), Peter remarked that the tree had shriveled and died. “Look, Lord! The fig tree that you cursed has dried up!” Jesus’ response is incredible. “Have faith in God… I tell you, everything you pray and ask for—believe that you have received it and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you.”
If you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you.
Do you believe that God answers prayers? Have you seen a prayer answered? Are your judgments true in life? Jesus curses a tree for its failure to provide him with sustenance, with calories for his journey. He was likely very hungry. He had likely walked several miles; John says that Jesus hid far away in Bethany so as not to be found by his arresting officers. Bethany was a two-mile hike from Jerusalem. Jesus likely would have made this hike once in the morning and again in the evening. Jesus’ curse, then, is a lesson to us. When a righteous man—that is, a man who is right with God and his neighbors—makes a pronouncement, he is heard by God. A tree can wither and rot because of a righteous man’s curse. A mountain can pick up and be cast into the sea because of a righteous man’s curse. Or, as Jesus’ brother James put it, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16 KJV).
A man who is right with God and his neighbors—makes a pronouncement, he is heard by God.