In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 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. Matthew 21:18-19 ESV
Were they ashamed when they committed abomination?
No, they were not at all ashamed;
they did not know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among the fallen;
when I punish them, they shall be overthrown,
says the Lord.
When I would gather them, declares the Lord,
there are no grapes on the vine,
nor figs on the fig tree;
even the leaves are withered,
and what I gave them has passed away from them. Jeremiah 8:12-13 ESV
A family went camping next to a rushing river, and the father wanted his children to understand that it would be dangerous for them to play too near the river or to try to swim in it. So he brought his children to the edge of the river and broke a branch off of a nearby tree. Then he threw the branch into the river, and they watched as the water quickly swept the branch away. The father said to his children, “That’s what would happen to you if you fell into the river or tried to swim in it.” He hoped that showing them an example from a tree branch would get their attention and teach them to stay safe.
Jesus did something similar with a fig tree. He wanted to eat some figs, but there weren’t any, so he spoke the word, and the fig tree withered. Jesus wasn’t really angry with the fig tree, but instead he was using the fig tree as a picture of the judgment that was coming to the people of Jerusalem and their city and their temple. Long ago the prophet Jeremiah had compared the people of Judah to a fig tree that didn’t have any fruit, and Jesus was making the same comparison. The people had turned away from God and not showed the fruits of living by faith in him. So the Lord was going to judge them for this. Jesus also showed God’s judgment against the temple by driving out the moneychangers and the people selling animals, and this was another picture of God’s anger. The time was running out for the people to repent and to turn to the Lord.
God loves all people, and he doesn’t want to come to anyone in anger or judgment. He sent his Son Jesus to be our Savior, and on the cross Jesus took all of God’s judgment and anger on himself. Because of this, all our sins are forgiven, and we are God’s people. He calls us to live by faith in him, and sends us his Holy Spirit to lead us to repentance every day. God works in us to help us produce the fruit of new lives lived in love to him and in service to others.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, our Savior. Help us to live lives of repentance and faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.