The Withering Fig Tree

Q. I was wondering why in the Gospel of Mark, generally characterized by using the word “immediately”, the fig tree cursed by the Lord did not appear to have withered until the following day whereas in Matthew, not necessarily a book of “speed”, the fig tree withered immediately.

A. I think it’s just a matter of difference in how the two presented the event and the importance they gave it. None of the gospels was written as history so none is intended to be chronologically accurate in every detail. That’s why you have to read all four to get the whole picture. That said, someone who knows trees could argue that withering from the root up in a single day could be considered pretty rapid.

We should also note that both writers did agree on the most important point of the event. “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer,” (Matt. 21:22) and “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24)

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