Faithlife Sermons

The Truth Produces Fruit: How a Dead Tree Helps Understand Who is Really Part of the Kingdom

Matthew  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  28:52
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Scripture Reading
Opening Prayer
In Mark, the story about the fig tree is rightly divided, placing the cursing of the tree before the temple cleansing and then when Jesus and the disciples return, the disciples notice the tree is completely withered
Matthew does not take a strict chronological approach to telling the story of Jesus’ life.
Exposition One
Matthew 21:18 ESV
In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry.
As Jesus was entering the city (Jerusalem), he wanted to eat
very human
Matthew 21:19 ESV
And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.
What is going on here with the fig tree?
It is not fig season
Yet this tree has leaves when it shouldn’t
So Jesus goes up to it, sees it has no fruit, and decides to use the opportunity to teach His disciples something
He “curses” the tree and it died.
We know from Mark that it didn’t wither before their eyes but rather that when they returned it had withered.
Matthew here emphasizes how unusual that was.
Even if you cut a tree down it doesn’t wither in a day
Is Jesus just simply using this opportunity to display His power and to say that prayer has access to that same power?
I don’t believe so, it doesn’t fit the context.
He is teaching that but Matthew places this here to fit into his theme.
We just read about the triumphal entry, then the cleansing of the temple, next we are going to read about the basis of Jesus authority. All three of these things have to do with people who profess righteousness yet are not truly from among the faithful.
So what is going on here?
Jesus in enacting a parable. Here is a tree that appears to be producing fruit out of season
Yet it is not what it appears to be. Similarly, the money changers and sellers of animals in the temple appeared to be doing God’s work but were actually deceitful and greedy.
Even those who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem would turn their back on Him.

I. Those who appear to produce much fruit but are actually barren are condemned to wither

Look at your life.
Do you produce fruit? Or do you only appear to do so?
I am not saying that you have to see people converted, that is God’s work.
What I am saying is do you real growth in Godliness? Is God changing and transforming you?
If not, perhaps you are like the fig tree. Don’t be like the fig tree.
Matthew 21:20 ESV
When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?”
The question is of Jesus’ power
Matthew 21:21 ESV
And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.
Hyperbole? Yes and No
Matthew 21:22 ESV
And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
The answer?

II. God answers the prayer of the one who has faith in Him.

Jesus is NOT teaching, if you pray and have faith in your prayer then it will happen.
Instead, its faith in God. If you pray, and if you are one who has faith, God will answer.
You have access, as a child of God, to ask of the almighty!
Major Transition
Matthew 21:23 ESV
And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”
Jesus entered the temple again
The religious authorities question Him again
Asking about the source of His authority
Spoiler alert: Jesus is God the Son!
Matthew 21:24 ESV
Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things.
Answers a question with a question, yet the question, Jesus proclaims is not an answer, yet at the same time it is.
Here is the question…
Matthew 21:25 ESV
The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’
Matthew 21:26 ESV
But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
“the baptism of John” refers to his whole ministry
Basically, if they say from man, then the crowds will get mad because John’s popularity still exceeded Jesus’ at this time
If they said God, then that would validate Jesus because it was well know that John had bapotised
Matthew 21:27 ESV
So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
So they don’t answer, yet all those listening know the answer...

III. Just as John the Baptizer’s ministry came from God, Jesus’ ministry is from God.

How does this tie into what came before. Just as you recognize true followers by the fruit they exhibit, so too, Jesus’ life and ministry are validated by the fruit it produces, just as John’s was.
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