Matthew 21:18-22 Having Faith In Prayer

by | Nov 28, 2023 | Matthew, New Testament

I. What This Teaching Isn’t About

A. It’s Not About Having A Fruitful Life

1. Christians are to be “fruitful”; called branches in the vine John 15:1-10

a. What’s similar in these passages?

i. Both the fig tree and Christians are called to “bear fruit”
ii. Jesus expects to find fruit in each: literal fruit and spiritual fruit
iii. Galatians 5:22, 23 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control.

b. What’s different?

i. The branches died as a result of not being connected to Jesus
The fig tree died because it was cursed by Jesus (Mark 11:21)
ii. The branches died slowly, withering, from disconnection
The fig tree died suddenly; no sign of slow death; it was cursed

c. Other observations

i. Are there some “fig tree” Christians out there? Yes!
ii. They look alive, but have no fruit.
iii. They are not fulfilling their spiritual purpose in life
iv. If they are truly Christians (branches), Jesus doesn’t curse them, but prunes them.
v. If they are not branches, they are disconnected from the Vine (Jesus), and will wither, be cut off, and be cast into the fire
vi. Often, we can’t tell the difference. Wheat & tares. (Matt. 13)
vii. 2 Timothy 2:19 The Lord knows those who are His…

2. People are called trees Psalm 1
3. There are “good” trees and “bad” trees Matthew 7:15-20

B. The Nation Of Israel

1. Israel was called a fig tree in the Old Testament Joel 1:1-7; Hosea 9:10
2. Israel described as an vineyard Matthew 21:33-46
3. What’s similar?

a. Both the fig tree and Israel were expected to be fruitful
b. Both Israel and the fig tree were judged for unfruitfulness

i. Israel would soon be judged
ii. Jerusalem destroyed in 70 A.D.
iii. God’s attention would be turned from Israel to the Gentiles

4. What’s different?

a. The fig tree would never again bear fruit
b. Israel will once again bear fruit unto God

i. They are not forever cursed
ii. There will be future spiritual fruitfulness for Israel Romans 11:26

II. A Lesson On Faith In Prayer (What The Point Actually Is)

A. The Setting

1. Jesus went to a fig tree looking for fruit
2. He found none and so cursed the tree

a. Mark’s account shows this took place over two days

3. Read Mark 11:12-14, 20-26 (Parallel passage)
4. Other explanations of what’s happening here

a. The fig trees had early and late seasons: spring and autumn
b. The spring season grew both leaves & figs: this tree should have had figs
c. Some say this tree has “false advertising”: not living up to its appearance
d. Mark 11:13 contradicts this idea


a. Is Jesus having a bad day?
b. Is He sinning? No.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.


a. He never sinned
b. He always pleased the Father (John 8:29)
c. Maybe He did this to create an opportunity to teach on faith in prayer


a. The disciples wanted to understand how this miracle could have happened.

i. They didn’t ask to be taught symbolism
ii. They wanted to know how this happened.

b. V. 21- Jesus said “assuredly”. This became a lesson on prayer and faith

B. The Actual Teaching On Faith In Prayer

1. V. 20- The disciples question Jesus about how this could have happened

a. NOTE- Do you ask Jesus about how some things happen?
b. Do you seek the Lord about the dynamics of prayer?
c. They did, and they got answers

2. V. 20- Who asked the question? The disciples asked.

a. Those who were serious followers of Jesus
b. Not half hearted, curious, semi-religious people
c. To whom did Jesus makes these claims? To the disciples, not to the public
d. Luke 14:26, 27 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

3. Jesus teaches on faith in prayer

a. Disciples will pray according to God’s will
b. Pray with faith, and do not doubt
c. Ask in prayer, believe as you ask, and you will receive
d. Say To This Mountain- This was a common metaphor of the Jews to describe overcoming seeming impossibility.
e. Caldwell- Faith in God and God’s willingness to respond to believing prayer will open the door to divine intervention