12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. 20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Early Monday morning (after Palm Sunday) Jesus and his disciples left Bethany and went toward Jerusalem. Jesus became hungry. Though it was early in spring and not yet the season fro figs, Jesus saw a fig tree off in the distance that had leaves on it. He went over to see if he could find some figs on the tree (seeing that the figs usually appear before the leaves). Jesus found nothing but leaves. It was a barren fig tree. Jesus cursed the tree for being barren.
As the group passed the same tree on Tuesday morning, they discovered that the tree had withered away from the roots. Peter called the group’s attention to the fig tree.
The fig tree was a symbol of Israel. Israel had leaves, but not fruit; it had the appearance of godliness, but did not have true godliness. For three years Jesus had worked on Israel but the majority of people did not repent and bring forth the fruit of repentance. As the fig tree died from the curse of Christ, so Israel was destroyed by the wrath of God for rejecting the Savior. And not only Israel. That is the miserable end of hypocrites, who bring forth no fruit of good works and show nothing but leaves.
Israel did not have real, true faith, and therefore no works.
To “root up mountains” was a common expression of the day for doing the impossible. Faith in God goes out in prayer to God, and with God nothing is impossible.