Summary: This an alliterated expository message from John 15 that tells the story behind Valentine’s Day and urges people to receive, reciprocate and recycle the love of Jesus. PowerPoint available if you e-mail me.
Valentine’s Day: A Love Worth Giving
Scott Bayles, pastor
First Christian Church
Well, today is Saint Valentine’s Day! I hope none of you husbands or boyfriends forgot about it. I asked Ashley what she wanted for Valentine’s Day earlier this week. She said, “Nothing.” I guess I’ll find out later today if she was telling the truth.
I wonder how many of you remember the story behind the origins of Valentine’s Day. You know, it is called Saint Valentine’s Day for a reason.
Approximately 250 years after Jesus was born in Bethlehem, there was a priest by the name of Valentine. He lived in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius, who was committed to rebuilding the once-great Roman army. However, he believed it was important for men to volunteer for armed service, rather than drafting men into service against their will. But, given a choice, most young men in the Roman Empire refused to serve. They’d rather stay at home with their wives and children that go off into battle.
Claudius came to believe that only single men would volunteer for service, so he issued a royal edict that banned all further marriages. He actually outlawed weddings in the Roman Empire, earning himself the nick-name Claudius the Cruel.
Valentine thought it was ridiculous! One of his favorite duties as a priest was to marry people. So after Emperor Claudius passed his law, Valentine secretly continued performing marriage ceremonies. He would whisper the words of the ceremony, while listening for soldiers on the steps outside.
One night, Valentine did hear footsteps at his door. The couple he was marrying escaped, but he was caught. He was thrown in jail and sentenced to death. Valentine tried to stay cheerful. Many of the young couples he had married came to visit him in jail. They threw flowers and notes up to his window. They wanted him to know that they, too, believed in love.
One day, he received a visit from the daughter of one of the prison guards. Her father allowed her to visit him in his cell and they often sat and talked for hours. She believed he did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and performing weddings. On the day Valentine was to die, he left her a note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. He signed it, “Love from your Valentine.” That note started the custom of exchanging love notes on Valentine’s Day. It was written on the day he died, February 14, 269 A.D.—a day that was set aside in honor of a man who gave his life for God and for love. Now, every year on this day, people remember Saint Valentine, but most importantly, they think about love.
Everyone loves love! We want to be loved and we want to give love. The problem is—our love is lacking just like we are. It’s often conditional upon our own mood or our loved one’s actions, appearance or attitude. When it comes to love, all of us fall a little short, don’t we? Some of us are as confused about love as little five-year-old Kari who told her teacher, “Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.”
My question for you today is—how do we develop and nurture a love worth giving on Valentine’s Day and every day? The answer, I believe, is found in God’s Word—John 15:9-17 to be precise. Let’s read what Jesus has to say in this passage, shall we?
I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command… This is my command: Love each other. (John 15:9-17 NLT)
Jesus had a lot to say about love, and his final night with his followers was no exception. During the course of the evening (which began in John 13 and carries on through chapter 17) Jesus uses the L-word no less than thirty times in eighteen different verses. It doesn’t take Bible scholar to see that love meant a lot to Jesus, that this was his central message to his disciples. Zeroing in on this brief excerpt from the evening, though, I believe Jesus reveals for us how to obtain a love worth giving. It all begins when we receive his love for us!