Jesus was in His last days of ministry. He had just cleansed the temple, driving out the moneychangers, and now He was spending time with His disciples to prepare them as the pillars of His future church. Yet at this point they were still faithless, “slow to believe.” Jesus had chided them for their unbelief at various times, asking, “Can you not see?” He saw in their hearts a hindrance that had to be removed or they would never come into the revelation necessary to lead the church.

One day as Jesus and the disciples passed by a barren fig tree, Jesus cursed it:

“[He] said to it, ‘Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.’ And His disciples heard it” (Mark 11:14).

Later, as the group came by the fig tree again, Peter pointed out, “Lord, the fig tree You cursed has dried up.”

Without giving Peter an actual answer, Jesus said simply, “Have faith in God.” We know from Jesus’ amazing response that the message to follow was all about faith.


The withered fig tree was another of Christ’s illustrated sermons. This dried-up plant represented God’s rejection of the old religious system of works in Israel. That system was all about trying to earn salvation and God’s favor by human effort and self-will.

Something new was about to be birthed in Israel: a church in which God’s people would live totally by faith. Salvation and eternal life would come only by faith.

To this point, God’s people knew nothing of living by faith. Their religion had been all about performance: appearing for worship services, reading the Torah, keeping extensive sets of rules. Now Jesus was saying, “That old system is over, headed for judgment.” A new day was dawning: the church of faith was being birthed.