The disciples were astonished (Matthew 21:20) that the fig tree, cursed by Jesus the previous evening, was dead; dried up from its roots (Mark 11:20). Before them was one more practical evidence of the incredible effectiveness of Jesus’ words. According to Mark, “And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto Him, ‘Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away'” (v. 21). Behind the jaw-dropping statement was the unasked question: “How did you do that?”
It was at this point that Jesus flung wide open the door on the “secret” behind dealing effectively with challenges and how to get results: “And Jesus answering saith unto them, ‘Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them'” (vv. 22-24, KJV). It is easy to camp out on the promises and ignore Jesus’ first four words: “Have faith in God” or as some translations put it, “Have the faith of God.” However, it was not by accident that Jesus started His response to Peter with those words. Everything to do with God start and stop with faith in Him and His ability to do the things He says He can and will do. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
To have faith in God is to have a moral conviction of the goodness, truthfulness, and faithfulness of God. In this instance Bible Commentator John Gill observes: “‘Have faith in God’, that He will enable you to perform whatsoever ye shall desire; which must be understood, not of spiritual faith in the promises of God, and person of Christ, but of, the faith of miracles, or faith in the power of God to perform things that are above the strength of nature.” There was no greater demonstrator of this than Jesus himself. As He walked the earth in His humanity, it is instructive that His life and ministry centered on the conviction that God, His father, was exactly who He said He was – sovereign ruler over all things and unchallenged in power and majesty to whom nothing was impossible. Because the essence of being a disciple is to become like one’s teacher, the ways of Jesus should be our goal as well.
What Jesus was telling the disciples is that when they have faith in God, the faith of God, they could do more that speak to fig trees and see the results. They would be able to speak to “mountains” and those “mountains” would have to obey. I do not know if the disciples understood all of that on that day. Maybe we do not fully understand all of it ourselves today. However, if Jesus said it could be done then I believe Him. Do you?