Valentine’s Day. Even the mere title undoubtedly brings out a variety of different emotions. Depending on your current situation in life or previous relationships, today will likely either bring about warm feelings of affection or tumultuous pain of previous hurt, longing, and loneliness. As a pastor, I always try to remain sensitive to those in my congregation who struggle to celebrate formal holidays such as today. Sometimes, the pain of lost loved ones and wishes of what never was can be too great for some of us to bear.
Because Valentine’s Day evokes such diverse emotions concerning love from so many of us, I thought it would be beneficial to briefly consider what God says about love in the Bible. Though the biblical definition of love is far lengthier than what we will consider here, I found it striking the way that Jesus Himself described love to His disciples. In John 15:13, Jesus describes love this way: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” At first glance, this might seem like a gracious and pithy statement. Many of us read this verse, and while obviously agreeing with its general message, fail to see any moral or eternal implications from it. Why is this description of love such an eternally necessary definition?
The importance of this verse is found in the immediate context. In verse 9, Jesus clearly communicates that just as He is loved by the Father, so too has he “also loved you.” Jesus undoubtedly expressed divine love to His disciples, while a few verses later described that the greatest love means laying down a life for friends. Notice the emphasis on friends? It’s not a coincidence that literally the next verse, 15:14, Jesus asserts “No longer do I call you slaves…but I have called you friends.” Once again, Jesus uses this same word – friends.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus has given us the greatest definition and example of love in the entire world. It’s not found in a bouquet of flowers. It’s not found in a box of chocolates. It’s not found in human satisfaction and fulfillment. It’s not even found in the arms of a God-given spouse. The greatest definition of love is found in the truth and reality that Jesus Christ performed the tremendous act of love by coming to earth to die as a blameless sacrifice for His chosen children. The Great Shepherd came to earth to save His lost sheep by selflessly sacrificing His life. This is the expression of love the resounds throughout all of eternity, and is the reason that we can fully celebrate love today.
Brother and Sister in Christ, you are cared for and are loved by the greatest Savior this world has ever known. Never forget Christ’s sufficient expression of love through His death. In the timeless words of the apostle Paul in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”