Early in the morning as Jesus was returning to the city, he was hungry. He saw a fig tree along the road, but when he came to it, he found nothing except leaves. Then he said to it, “You’ll never again bear fruit!” The fig tree dried up at once. When the disciples saw it, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree dry up so fast?” they asked. Jesus responded, “I assure you that if you have faith and don’t doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree. You will even say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the lake.’ And it will happen. If you have faith, you will receive whatever you pray for” (Matthew 21:18-22, Common English Bible).
I admit, I know very little about fig trees. I do know that there is a season, like with most plants, when they produce fruit. The remainder of the time, the plant has leaves but no fruit. The fig tree is no different.
I have always found the story that is our lesson today to be a bit curious. Why would Jesus curse a fig tree if (though perhaps t was fig season, the lesson really doesn’t say) its fruit were out of season? Why kill the tree. Instead, why not do things to encourage the tree. In Luke’s gospel Jesus tells a parable about a fig tree that didn’t bear fruit. The landowner was ready to chop it down but the gardener begged for the opportunity to work with the tree and save it.
This lesson is another of the opportunities Jesus took to share with the disciples the power of prayer. In the lesson the fig tree dies immediately after Jesus cursed it. The disciples were amazed that something like this could happen and they wanted to know how. Jesus said they could do this, and more, if they had faith and did not doubt. If they did that, not only could they command the fig tree to die, they could move mountains.
Jesus tells us again and again throughout the Gospels about the power of faith. If you only have faith, he says, this seemingly impossible task can be done, even by you.
We believe we have faith. We pray in faith. Yet often things seem like they don’t happen. Perhaps we look but fail to see where God has answered our prayer. Or, more likely, Jesus says, if you have faith and “don’t doubt” that our prayers will be answered. How often do we pray and truly have no doubt in our hearts and minds.
It seems to me that it is difficult to live life and have no doubt. It also says to me that faith can be a fragile thing because doubt can creep into us so easily. Perhaps that means we must work it and cultivate it because unlike figs, faith is always in season.
How do you work to keep doubt away from your faith?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved