Faith Moves Mountains Matthew 21 Bible Study
A FIG TREE IS CURSED
The Parable of the Fig Tree was a parable for Israel
The Parable of the Fig Tree is a parable for the Christian Church
--the truth that it etches upon our hearts is a test of fruitful service!!
...here the story as told by Matthew: (read Matthew 21:18-22)
*Trees bear leaves for themselves!
*Trees bear fruit for others!
.....somewhere on the road between Bethany and Jerusalem, Jesus approached a fig tree in the hope of easing His hunger...but found only leaves!
(Fig leaves appear about the same time as the fruit or a little after)
*It’s leaves advertised that it was bearing, but the advertisement was false!!
--Jesus unable to satisfy His hunger, saw an opportunity of teaching us something very important
--He cursed the tree not because it was not bearing fruit, but because it made a show of life that promised fruit, yet bearing none!!!
What is the meaning of the cursing of the fig tree?
**Jesus is cursing those who make a show of bearing much fruit but are spiritually barren!!
--He is directing His attacks against the hypocrites!
As the disciples observed the fig tree wither, they were so impressed with Jesus’ authority over nature that they missed the meaning of the act!
--upon their comment, Jesus ignored the meaning of the fruit missing from the tree and from Israel, and gave the disciples and us a lesson on faith!
*The fruit of grace in their lives will be the faith to cope with insurmountable difficulties, described metaphorically as “mountains.” v.21.
**This is a contrast between fruitlessness with no faith, and the fruitfulness of faith!!!
What does this mean to us here tonight?
Does your life have leaves only and no fruit?
*Trees bear leaves for themselves!
*Trees bear fruit for others!!
Faith Moves Mountains?
Of these sayings, or varieties of an original saying, emphasizing the limitless possibilities open to faith, Mark’s form (followed in Mt 21:21) has a life setting in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, during Holy Week;
In any case, Jesus illustrates the power of faith by analogies from the natural world.
If faith is present at all, even if it is no bigger than a mustard seed, it can accomplish wonders: think what a large plant springs from something as tiny as a mustard seed.
“We are not afraid when the earth heaves and the mountains are hurled into the sea”—so Psalm 46:2 (neb) describes a convulsion of nature that leaves men and women of God unshaken because he is their refuge and strength.
It may be that Jesus is using such a form of words figuratively to describe the incalculable effects of prevailing faith.
But in Mark’s account there may be some more explicit point in the form of words.
----- In that account the words are addressed to the disciples after the incident of the cursing of the fig tree.
----- There may not seem to be much to connect that incident with a lesson on the power of faith.
The connection, however, may be provided by the place where, according to Mark, the words were spoken. They were spoken in the morning, as Jesus and his disciples made their way from Bethany to Jerusalem, crossing the Mount of Olives.
So, in Mark’s account, “this mountain” in the saying would be the Mount of Olives.
Now, in current expectation regarding the time of the end, the Mount of Olives played a special part. It would be the scene of a violent earthquake on the day of the Lord.
“On that day,” said one of the prophets (referring to the day when the God of Israel would take final action against the enemies of his people), “his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south” (Zech 14:4).
If Jesus had this and related Old Testament prophecies in mind on his way across the Mount of Olives, his meaning might have been,
“If you have sufficient faith in God, the day of the Lord will come sooner than you think.” 41-17
How Much Faith Do We Need?
(Mark 5:34) In the story of the woman with the flow of blood we find this verse (also found in Mt 9:22 and Lk 8:48) that indicates that her healing was due to her faith.
n A similar phrase appears in the healing stories in Mark 10:52, Luke 17:19 and Luke 18:42, and the forgiveness story in Luke 7:50.
n Does this mean that the answer to our prayers is determined by the amount of our faith?
Certainly faith is present somewhere in most of the healing stories in the Gospels. In the cases cited above, the faith is the faith of the person being healed, but such stories form only about one-third of the healing stories in the Gospels.
q In Mark 2:5 it is the faith of those bringing the person to Jesus which is cited.
q In Mark 6:6 (and Mt 13:58) it is the general climate of unbelief, that is, the lack of faith, in Nazareth that made Jesus unable to do anything more than heal a few sick people.
q In Mark 9:23-24 Jesus counters unbelief and stimulates faith in the father of a demonized boy.
q Yet in many cases of healing the only faith which appears to be present is that which Jesus has; for example, in the raising of the man in Nain (Lk 7:11-16) one searches in vain for faith in anyone but Jesus, as is also the case in John 11. How do we put all of this data together?
First, while Jesus can talk about “great faith” (in the case of the centurion whose servant was healed) or “little faith” (in the case of the disciples in Mark), normally it is not the amount of faith but whether or not it is present that counts.
In Mark 11:23-24 we read,
Yet the parallel in Luke 17:6 reads,
If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it will obey you. (compare Mt 17:20)
In other words, the key element in prayer is not the amount of faith, but whether faith is present at all!!!