Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Matthew 21:18-22


18 Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. 19 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. 20 Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, ``How did the fig tree wither all at once?'' 21 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. 22 ``And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.''

Fig trees were a common and important source of food for the Jews. The unfruitful fig tree that was promising something it couldn't deliver was an illustration of those who looked good on the outside, but were fruitless. The history of Israel is one long preparation for the coming of the Promised One. But the promise is unfulfilled in those who reject Jesus through unbelief. Jesus' cursing of a fig tree is an action against the faithlessness of those who rejected his message. For faith to be fruitful and productive, it must be nourished authentic and focused faith.

Jesus turns the incident into a teaching time for His disciples. He challenges them to "have faith in God." They are to pray with a stubborn faith no matter how difficult the situation may be. The phrase "to remove mountains" was a common Jewish expression for removing difficulties. A wise teacher who could solve difficulties was called a "mountain remover". If we pray with faith, God will give us the means to overcome the difficulties and obstacles.

This stubborn faith is what Brennan Manning calls "Ruthless Trust". It's really ACTING AS IF.