The Gospel text for this Sunday [Luke 4:31-44] has Jesus rebuking a fever (verse 39). That is an interesting phrase and deserves some focus. It is unique to the gospel accounts (see Mark 1:31). And that Jesus also rebukes a demon just a bit earlier in the text might make you wonder if there is some similarity between a fever and a demon!
That kind of conclusion would focus too much on ourselves and our own situations. It would certainly be nice for Christians to be able to rebuke a fever and it would leave. But the focus of this text and basically of the entire scriptures is and should always be Jesus.
Focusing on the word ‘rebuke’ will help to keep that focus on Jesus. According to its form, the word ‘rebuke’ is connected to the word ‘honor’. Whoever is doing the rebuking, that person is in a position of authority to the person (or thing) being rebuked. The person in authority deserves some sort of honor. And in the Greek dictionary [BDAG, p. 384], regarding the word ‘rebuke’, the following description is also given: ‘speak seriously’. That perspective may be helpful to understand the meaning of the word and the text’s proper focus.
Jesus is the one speaking seriously to the fever. Jesus is also the one speaking seriously to the demon. Given that context, the confessions of Jesus to be the ‘Holy One of God’ (verse 34), the Son of God (verse 41), and the Christ (also verse 41) do not seem to be serious enough for Jesus.
I also think it is not a coincidence that Peter calls Jesus ‘the Christ of God’ (Luke 9:20), and Jesus gives the same ‘rebuke’ (although it is translated as ‘strictly charged’). He starts to speak seriously to his followers. He says this: ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised (verse 22).’
Jesus goes to Capernaum, and then he goes away from Capernaum. He goes to another place, but then he also goes away from that place. And then there is the famous verse in this gospel account which summarizes the rest of the account: ‘When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51).’ He goes to Jerusalem, to his cross, and then he goes away.
From the days of his youth to the day of his death—and the days which followed after that—he was the obedient one. He was the one who spoke seriously when people needed to hear some serious words about life and death, about who they were and about who he was. He was the hard worker, the serious one, the one who is like the ox, always willing to get the job done—for us.