Recall from our context that Jesus was returning to Jerusalem on Monday morning after spending the night in Bethany. On the way, He saw a fig tree at a distance that had leafed out. Being hungry He went looking for some of the immature developing fruits that one would expect to find at that time, but instead found it to be barren. What does Matthew record that Jesus said to the fig tree after being drawn to it by its pretense but then not finding upon it anything to satisfy His hunger? See Mat 21:19. How does Mark word it? See Mar 11:14.
What is the significance of the curse pronounced upon the fig tree in regard to its barrenness? See Pro 1:31, Gal 6:7. What does this also teach us about the very close relationship between God’s blessing and being fruitful? We perhaps most often think of this relationship in terms of our need to be fruitful in order to receive God’s blessing, which is true; cf. Heb 6:7-8. But do we also understand that all of God’s blessings are for our fruitfulness? See Isa 5:1-4, Eze 17:8, 34:26-27, Joh 15:8,16, Rom 7:4. Indeed, do we understand that to be fruitful is a blessing from God? See Gen 1:22,28, 9:1, 17:15-16,20, 24:60, 28:1-3, 35:9-11, 48:3-4, Exo 23:26, Deut 7:13-14, 28:4-5, Rut 4:11-14, Psa 127:3-5, 128:1-4; cf. Psa 1:1-3, Jer 17:7-8. What does this help us understand about the Biblical perspective of barrenness being a curse? Cf. Gen 30:1, 1Sa 1:10-11, 2:20-21. What does it teach us about the modern perspective that views such fruitfulness of children in the opposite manner as a curse to be prevented by “family planning”? Does such a perspective reflect the Spirit of God or the spirit of the world? What does the curse pronounced upon the fruitless fig tree teach us about the spiritual reason why many people who use “family planning” and especially abortion to put off having children often find themselves infertile when they later try to have children?
From a Biblical perspective, are those who are deliberately barren in order to pursue their own desires really blessing themselves as they suppose by not having children? What Christian virtues that bless people throughout their lives are more inherent to large families than small ones? Should we suppose because of the Biblical perspective of fruitfulness being a blessing that simply having many children will automatically be a blessing? Think: Is the blessing of a fruitful tree found only in the quantity of its fruit, or also in its quality? Is it a blessing when children are born outside of the covenant of marriage that secures the safe and stable environment for them to grow up and thrive in, or when the parents do not fulfill their God ordained roles and responsibilities to nurture and bring up their children in the way of the Lord? In what many ways must a couple be blessed in order to provide for and nurture a large family in the Lord? Cf. Gen 31:38-42. What does this help us to understand about the manifold nature of God’s blessing to be fruitful and multiply, whether physically or spiritually, and how that only happens in proportion to our faith and obedience to all the counsel of God?
Should we necessarily understand that physical barrenness is a sign of God’s disfavor? See Gen 11:30, 25:21, 29:31, 30:22-23, Luk 1:6-7; cf. Psa 113:9, Isa 54:1, Gal 4:19. What is the rich blessing of being fruitful, whether physically or spiritually? Cf. Gen 12:3, 22:18, 26:3-4, 28:14, and think: Are we blessed because of the fruitfulness of Christ and His disciples throughout the ages? Are they blessed because they have been a blessing to us? Are we not blessed when we in the same way are fruitful and prove to be a blessing to others? Cf. Pro 17:6, Phil 4:1, 1Th 2:19-20, 3:8-9; cf. 2Co 9:12-14, Eph 4:28. What does this teach us about the real treasures of eternity, and the false expectations many have about riches in heaven? Cf. 2Co 9:6. In our present context of the cursed fig tree, how blessed might the Jewish nation have been if they had been the fruitful blessing to the Gentile nations God intended them to be? Cf. Mar 11:17. How blessed might we be if by faith and obedience we prove to be a fruitful blessing to others?
1. The sin of barrenness is justly punished with the curse and plague of barrenness; Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever. As one of the chiefest blessings, and which was the first, is, Be fruitful; so one of the saddest curses is, Be no more fruitful. Thus the sin of hypocrites is made their punishment; they would not do good, and therefore they shall do none; he that is fruitless, let him be fruitless still, and lose his honour and comfort. A false and hypocritical profession commonly withers in this world, and it is the effect of Christ’s curse; the fig-tree that had no fruit, soon lost its leaves. Hypocrites may look plausible for a time, but, having no principle, no root in themselves, their profession will soon come to nothing. (Matthew Henry).↩