Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:20-25
When Jesus headed back into Jerusalem from Bethany for the third day of the Passover week, His disciples noticed
something important. The fig tree that Jesus had cursed the day before had noticeably withered up and died.
Mark tells the story of these three days in one fell swoop making clear connections between the palm branches and the withered tree, giving us a glimpse into what was actually happening on the days leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion.
The term that Mark uses to describe the palm branches is actually ‘leafy branches’. This is the same word that Mark uses to describe the fig tree which was ‘in leaf.’ Because palm branches do not look anything like figs leaves, it is easy for us to disconnect these images, but the Bible was written down and preserved for us in words, not pictures, and this emphasis on leaves is meant to draw our attention to make an important connection in the text.
Jesus is pointing out the facade of praise and worship He had received at His triumphal entry. These people would soon turn on Him and this caused him to weep over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41).
Jesus’ response may confuse some, just as it confused the disciples who missed the true meaning of most of His teachings, but Jesus tells them that they need to have faith in God. This is not the first time Jesus spoke to their ‘little faith.’ Before he had told them that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed, they could move mountains. (Matthew 17:20) I believe that the main difficulty in understanding this text is the wrong way in which we view faith. Faith is not a mystical element that we can conjure up and bend to our will. You cannot change the mind of God with any clever
connotations. Jesus was able to work miracles because He was God and because He remained in the will of God. True
faith is knowing God and acting according to His desires. That is how Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done...” (Matthew 6:10)
Therefore, let us take today to align our beliefs about God with the actual truth of God. Let us get into God’s Word and discover how He has revealed Himself to us. Let us pray, not for our own will, but to be observant of God’s hand and obedient to His commands.