Jesus Curses The Fig Tree


‘Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, ‘May you never bear fruit again!’ Immediately the tree withered.’ Matthew 21:18-19

There were a variety of fig trees in and around Jerusalem in Jesus’ day, but this particular fig tree grew leaves first and then produced fruit.

‘Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs.’ Mark 11:12

I don’t believe we are to think that this was the only fig tree in the orchard, but it was certainly a tree which stood out and the reason it stood out to Jesus was because this fig tree had leaves on it but no fruit, although it was wasn’t fig season, Mark 11:13.

Why did Jesus curse the tree?

Out of all the miracles Christ did, this is the only miracle which involved a curse, but why curse the tree? Certainly not for the fun of it! He cursed the fig tree and used it as an object lesson for the disciples. The lesson was simple enough, Israel as a nation were producing an outward show of righteousness, Matthew 15:1-9 / Mark 7:1-9, it was all pretence and the religious leaders didn’t produce fruit by accepting Jesus as the Messiah.

Jesus is telling us that Israel would no longer produce fruit because they had rejected the Son of God and so God is going to reject them as a nation. Jerusalem and the Jewish nation would come to an end in A.D. 70.

‘When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. ‘How did the fig tree wither so quickly?’ they asked.’ Matthew 21:20

‘In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!’ Mark 11:20-21

The order of events is as follows

The tree was cursed on Monday morning as Christ was on the way to the cleansing of the temple. Matthew indicates that it withered immediately, but the following morning Peter noticed that it was withered completely from its roots upward and totally dried up. They probably didn’t notice this on Monday evening as they returned to Bethany, because it was evening time, and it would have been dark. Coffman.

‘Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’ Matthew 21:21-22

We must remember that faith isn’t the source of power, God is the source of that power and the disciples had to learn to trust their source, who is God, Matthew 17:20 / James 1:6 / James 5:16.

‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’ Matthew 17:20

When Christians pray in faith, we need to trust that God will answer our prayers, there may be times our prayers aren’t answered in a way which we would like or as quickly as we would like but we must trust that He will answer them. We must also remember that there are times our prayers won’t be answered simply because we don’t ask, or we don’t believe God can do what we request of Him and there are times our prayers aren’t in line with God’s will, 1 John 5:14 / James 4:3.

Mountain Moving Faith

If these words of Jesus concerning ‘a faith which can move mountains’, are to be taken literally, then they literally have to apply to His disciples, not Christians today.

This kind of faith was of the miraculous kind, this wouldn’t be the faith of Romans 5:1. This is a miraculous faith that enabled one to ‘remove mountains’, 1 Corinthians 13:2 / Matthew 17:20 / James 5:14-15. This kind of faith, along with all the other miraculous gifts have ceased to exist, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.

Jesus knew that over the next few days the disciples would need to have their faith increased because of the great trials and persecution they were about to go through, they were about to face some huge obstacles of their own and it was going to take great faith to overcome them.


The whole purpose of a fig tree was to produce fruit and as Christians, we too must produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, Galatians 5:22-23 / John 16:16 / James 3:17-18. But if we don’t produce the Spirit’s fruit in our lives, we too will end up like the fig tree Jesus used as an object lesson, we become useless, Matthew 7:19 / John 15:1-2.

We may not have the miraculous faith which can move mountains today, but we certainly should have a faith which trusts that God can remove any giant obstacles which come our way.