In the morning, when he returned to the city, he was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it, they were amazed, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.”
When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
It always makes me chuckle a bit when Jesus curses the fig tree. Clearly Jesus was not a morning person! I also find it a little funny that the disciples don’t ask Him why He cursed the fig tree, they ask Him how. I guess the knew He was still upset about the day before.
So why include this story? I think in order to show what great faith is capable of achieving. Jesus says that whatever you ask for in faithful prayer can be done. That is, prayer with absolutely no doubts. That’s hard, maybe impossible to do! Remember when the disciples couldn’t cure the boy with the demon? Even they had doubts, and they hung out with Jesus 24/7! True doubtless faith is something few have experienced, but something I think we should all be striving for each and every day.
The story of the Chief Priests questioning Jesus serves mainly to progress the narrative, I think. You can see that they were doubters, even of John the Baptist, but you can also see how political their motives for everything were. They were so blinded by their own desire for power that they couldn’t see what was right in front of them. It’s not surprise in light of this story when they have Jesus arrested.
But there is also a lesson in here for us, I think. God only reveals things to those that have faith. If we wants answers we need to: 1) be patient, 2) have faith, and 3) be open-minded/open-hearted. If you can’t do those things, Jesus won’t be in conversation with you.