Happy Valentine’s Day // John 3:16

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today we will share our affection and appreciation for people with cards, candies, flowers, and other tokens. Hallmark and other retailers get knocked for commercializing the day, and perhaps rightfully so. I thought it might be interesting to review the history of Valentine’s Day as opposed to going off on materialism.

Today is named for a man named Valentine, who was a Roman priest. Tradition holds that Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage because he felt single men made better soldiers. Father Valentine thought this to be unfair and officiated weddings in secret. He was caught and killed on February 14 in the year 270 AD for defying the Emperor. Father Valentine wrote a card to his jailer’s daughter, with whom he was in love, just before his execution. That was the very first valentine card written and delivered. Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day in the 5th Century. The rest, as they say, is history.

It occurs to me that a sacrifice for love’s sake occurred a couple hundred years before St. Valentine’s execution. John 3:16 (perhaps the most well known Bible verse) states, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (NKJV). Jesus is God’s gift to humanity in love for the purpose of salvation. Verse 17 continues, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Today’s celebration of love and unity is a sweet day for sure, but it pales in comparison to its absolute origin. God gave us Jesus so we could know of the sacrificial value of love and to emphasize just how passionately God feels about our eternal union in heaven. So, as you share your valentines with your valentine, remember the riskiness of love that gave rise to this day. May we celebrate in the Valentine’s Day spirit and remember the power of true love. 1 John 3:16 says it well, so I leave you with this: “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters” (NLT).