Today's verses are Mark 10:20-22: "As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, 'Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.' And Jesus answered them, 'Have faith in God.'" The day after Jesus entered Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples were walking away from Bethany. Jesus was hungry. He went to a fig tree. It's leaves were blooming but there were no figs, as there were supposed to be whenever the leaves started blooming. He spoke to the fig tree and cursed it, saying it would never bear fruit again (see Mark 11:12-14).
Jesus was making a powerful point to his disciples. The fig tree was symbolic in Jewish life of the nation of Israel (see Isa. 34:4; Joel 1:7-12). Israel was not bearing fruit as God intended. They were not obeying God's will as God intended. Therefore, Israel would be cursed by God. The covenant God made with Abraham and the nation would be taken away and given to another.
Within twenty-four hours, perhaps even less, Jesus and the disciples were again passing by the fig tree. Peter remembered Jesus words and pointed out how the fig tree had withered.
How did Jesus respond to Peter's observation? He simply said, "Have faith in God." Were the disciples surprised at this response? What does faith have to do with the cursing of a fig tree?
I think he was saying that they should believe in and trust God so much that there would be fruitfulness in their life. Their faith should motivate them to remove whatever is hindering them from bearing fruit for God. A faith that is only verbal is not faith at all. A faith that is spoken but doesn't bear fruit for God is no faith in God. Faith and obedience are inextricably connected in God's eyes. Faith and bearing fruit for God are two wings on the airplane: both are necessary for the plane to fly.
Faith without fruit is cursed by God.
Let's all do a "fig tree" test today. Answer these questions. Is my faith real? Do I trust God in everything? Do I know he is the God of the impossible, able to do anything and everything? Is my life commensurate with my faith? Am I bearing fruit for God? Is my personal character reflective of the God who lives in me? Is there love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control, the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23)? Am I bearing God's fruit in my service to others? Is Christ flowing through me to others in need? Is who I am being reproduced in the lives of others? In my children? In those who don't know Christ? Will someone be in eternity because I poured my life into them for Christ's glory?
If we truly believe in God, we will bear fruit for God. But bearing fruit for God always begins with a deep and abiding faith in God. That's the starting point. That's why Jesus said to his disciples, "Have faith in God!" It begins here.
But true faith will bear fruit for God. True belief will obey God. Faith without fruit is cursed by God.
That's the point Jesus is trying to make in these verses.