Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.  Matthew 22:18-19

One of my joys in reading the Gospels is finding lessons for living from seemingly odd stories.

A tree was fully in bloom and Jesus had the expectation of finding a few figs but… no figs.

Jesus cursed the tree and it withered. The Old Testament depicts Israel as a withered fig tree of immorality before the Babylonian captivity. After the return of Israel to the Promised Land, as a country, they never went back to idolatry.

The nation became serious about following the law. Too serious, changing their false gods for traditions that excluded the living God.

The withering of detestable pagan worship to legalism. One false religion for another.

Whereas Jeremiah cursed Israel for pagan immorality – a fig tree promising life but not delivering – Jesus now curses Israel for religious activity that doesn’t recognize true life.

Four days after the fig tree incident, this religion crucified Jesus.

Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, “How did the fig tree wither all at once?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”  Matthew 22:20-22

Using the withered fig tree as an example, Jesus taught one of the great promises of prayer: “…say to this mountain, be uprooted and tossed into the sea.”

They were approaching the temple mount. The center of religion that the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection would destroy – or cast into the sea! True life would then come through a relationship with Jesus.

That very same mountain is a centerpiece of another religion now.

All religions are cast into the sea by faith found in Jesus. I hope you are getting the implications for your faith right now:

Truly I say to you if you have faith and do not doubt…

If you have requests activated by a living relationship with Jesus, this faith shatters doubt. Entire religions, cultures, and nations can change. Nothing is impossible with relational faith.

We stand in awe of the miracles of Jesus – healings, walking on water, feeding thousands – all commonplace in the life of Jesus.

Only one death and resurrection – the most important miracle.

Now we have access to the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Our withered faith can live. Ask before you pray, “Do I have faith, or do I doubt?”

All false religions teach legalism and a version of immorality that destroys faith in Jesus. Immorality, human wisdom, selfish expectations, and dependencies seed doubt.

Learn the lesson of the fig tree and have faith to move mountains.

God, bring revival!