Jesus curses the fig tree

TEXT: Matthew 21:17-22

You could well ask: “What did a fig tree ever do to Jesus that he would want to cause it to wither?”

A few things could be the answer to that question, and we can list them.

  • One answer could be that he was hungry and that he was going to have to go without breakfast because the tree he chose to visit didn’t have anything on it to harvest. Just leaves.
  • Another answer was that he wanted to teach his disciples about faith. They had, after all, seen it wither.
  • A third answer could be that a Christian without fruit is not much good to either God’s plan or to the unsaved.


Actually, all of these answers are correct.

But it is also correct to say that Jesus wanted to use the fig tree to illustrate in real life a principle he laid down earlier to the disciples when he told them the Parable of the Sower:

REFERENCE: Matthew 13:1-9.

Before Jesus explains the meaning of the parable, he lays down this principle:

REFERENCE: Matthew 13:12

The principle, then, is what Jesus called a “mystery” -  those who have many fruits (positive, Christ-centered spiritual growth and bringing others to Christ) will spiritually flourish, while those who don’t have any fruit, and who are not even guarding their own salvation, stand in danger of spiritually withering and losing whatever blessing they do have. Our fruits form as we live a godly life openly, show others the path to the Christ, and they give their lives to him.


Fig tree's early figs

Specifically, the fruits of the spirit are (Galatians 5:22): Love, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. And in Ephesians 5:9-10 is  this: 9) “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; 10) “Proving [ demonstrating]  what is acceptable [ pleasing]  unto the Lord; 11) “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,, but rather reprove [ expose ] them.”

This principle is so important that Jesus repeated it again here, after he told the disciples the Parable of the Talents:

REFERENCE: Matthew 25:29

Note that Jesus is speaking this “mystery” to what would become the church; so this parable and its principle is intended for the believers to understand and, more importantly, to follow. After we are saved, we are to produce fruit – not just sit where we are, grow leaves and look pretty. We are also to grow in Christ and lead others, who are as lost as we were, to Christ.

Christ is always looking for “fruits” in our lives, and he visits every Christian “fig tree.” What will Jesus, the caretaker of the whole “orchard,” find when he comes to your fig tree?

Here then is a warning from Jesus: Without fruits, we run the risk of withering.

We have been warned.