Now early in the morning, as he returned to the city, he was hungry. After noticing a fig tree by the road he went to it, but found nothing on it except leaves. He said to it, “Never again will there be fruit from you!” And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it they were amazed, saying, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” Jesus answered them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, if you believe, you will receive.”
Now after Jesus entered the temple courts, the chief priests and elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”
Jesus answered them, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Where did John’s baptism come from? From heaven or from people?”
They discussed this among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From people,’ we fear the crowd, for they all consider John to be a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
“What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ The boy answered, ‘I will not.’ But later he had a change of heart and went. The father went to the other son and said the same thing. This boy answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, tax collectors and prostitutes will go ahead of you into the kingdom of God! For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him. But the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe. Although you saw this, you did not later change your minds and believe him.
The Scriptures quoted are from the NET Bible® http://netbible.com copyright ©1996, 2019 used with permission from Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.
COMMENT & QUESTIONS
Jesus found a fig tree that wasn’t bearing any fruit. Can you remember what has been said about trees bearing fruit in Matthew’s Gospel already? (Matthew 3:10; 7:17-18; 12:33-37) With this in mind, what point do you think Jesus is making about the fig tree that didn’t have fruit?
It is an illustration of the teaching that God expected His people (Israel) to be bearing good fruits. Since they were failing to do this, God had no option but to uproot the plant. There will be more on this in the coming chapters.
Jesus gives a story about two sons and a vineyard. What is the point of the story? What is the application for us?
The point of the story is that it is better to do the will of God than to say you will. The Pharisees claimed to obey God, but when Jesus taught them they refused to do it. The tax collectors and prostitutes were not living right, but they changed their lives and obeyed.
Give thanks for those who listened to Jesus and spread His message Pray that Christians in your congregation will bear good fruit for God Pray for those who have heard the Gospel invitation. Pray that those who have rejected Christ will change their mind