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Scenes from Holy Week – Tuesday

Cursing of the Fig Tree
from Arabic Gospel Book (17th Century)

Matthew 21:18-22 (TPT)

While walking back into the city the next morning, he got hungry. He noticed a lone fig tree by the side of the path and walked over to see if there was any fruit on it, but there was none—he found only leaves. So, he spoke to the fig tree and said, “You will be barren and will never bear fruit again!” Instantly the fig tree shriveled up right in front of their eyes!

Astonished, his disciples asked, “How did you make this fig tree instantly wither and die?”

Jesus replied, “Listen to the truth. If you have no doubt of God’s power and speak out of faith’s fullness, you can be the ones who speak to a tree and it will wither away. Even more than that, you could say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and be thrown into the sea’ and it will be done. Everything you pray for with the fullness of faith you will receive!”

False Advertising

Jesus verdict on the withered fig tree seems so out of his kind, compassionate character.  What was the motivation behind his severe judgement call on the life of this helpless fig tree?

Jesus had his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and then, with his disciples, spent the night in Bethany.  He and his entourage are now on their way back to Jerusalem with Jesus fully aware of what is in store for him on the days ahead.  He comes upon a fig tree hoping to have some breakfast.

Bible commentators tell us that this was not fig season, so why such a harsh decree?  Because the tree showed all the signs of being fruitful but had no fruit.  It was a form of false advertising which means being misleading, deceptive, or false.  Jesus’ compassion was and is beyond anything we will ever understand or deserve because of his limitless grace, but to knowingly misrepresent him, he cannot ignore.

This is the lesson of the barren fig tree.  Jesus expects his disciples to be who they say they are….don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk.

Jesus never promised what he could not deliver and, if we are to be a reflection of his image, we must do the same.  Your faith may be small or faltering but being honesty is what Christ desires, and it mustn’t stop there. Be an open book before the Lord and he will bring his fruit-bearing work to pass.


Sit in God’s presence and meditate on the following:

  • What is my example to those around me?
  • Is there any “false advertising” in my witness?
  • What in me isn’t growing fruit?

As you contemplate these questions rest in the fact that Jesus is pleased with your honesty and desires to help you become a clearer reflection of his image.


Lord, it is my desire to reflect your likeness.  If there is anything in me that does not allow that likeness to shine through clearly, make me aware that I may bear healthy fruit in and through my life.  Amen.

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