Feb 12, 2021 | Rev. Rob Fuquay
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
“Would you be my Valentine?” is an interesting question when you think about the legends of people believed to be the original Saint Valentine. Two of the most likely candidates were from the third century during the reign of Roman emperor Claudius. One was a priest, Valentinus, who reacted to an order of Claudius that no Roman soldier could be married. Feeling the order to be wrong, and having sympathy for young soldiers in love, he secretly married many couples. Eventually, his deeds were found out and he was beheaded!
Another account refers to a bishop named Valentine who also drew the ire of the same Claudius, but for uncertain reasons, and he, too, was executed. Some say, given the nearness in time, both of these legends may be referring to the same person.
If either is remotely true, it means it’s a big deal to ask someone to be your Valentine! You’re asking them to die for you! If folks understood that, I imagine a lot fewer cards would be purchased. That might put a dent in Hallmark’s business!
Think, however, how Jesus’ life resembles a Valentine greeting. Rather than asking us to be His Valentine, He comes offering His life for us. He is willing to be our Valentine, showing the depth of God’s love for us before we even know it or ask for it. What a model of true love. Beyond the romantic love of our modern Valentine’s Day, Christian love is about voluntarily offering ourselves for others. That kind of love is not something you ask for. It becomes true love when it is freely offered.
Jesus said no greater love does a person have than to lay down one’s life for others. We normally associate that with dying for others, but there are lots of ways to lay down our lives. How can you lay down your life for people? Lay down some of your convictions? Habits? Temper? Apathy? Time? Such love voluntarily given is a sacred gift.
I don’t know that it would sell as many cards, but maybe the better statement is, “I will be your Valentine!” Either way, I hope you have a good weekend and,
Happy Valentine’s Day,