Valentine was eventually caught and was brought before the emperor. The emperor saw that Valentine had conviction and drive that was unsurpassed among his men. Claudius tried and tried to persuade Valentine to leave Christianity, serve the Roman Empire and the Roman gods. In exchange, Claudius would pardon him and make him one of his allies, with all the power and privilege Claudius could give him. Bishop Valentine held to his faith, though, and did not renounce Christ. Because of this the emperor sentenced him to a three-part execution. First, Valentine would be beaten, then stoned, and finally decapitated.

Valentine tried to stay cheerful as he awaited his execution. Many young people he had tried to help came to the jail to visit him. They threw flowers and notes up to his window. They wanted him to know they believed in the sacredness of married love. One new friend who began to visit Bishop Valentine at this time was Asterious, the blind daughter of his jailer. Being a merciful man Valentine prayed for Asterious’ healing and God answered his prayer, and she regained her sight. After the miracle Valentine and Asterious fell in love.  On the day he was to die, Valentine wrote Asterious a little note thanking her for her love, loyalty, and friendship. He signed the note, “Love from your Valentine.” Even today, this message remains as the motto for our Valentine’s Day celebrations. First Valentine was beaten, then he was stoned and at last he was decapitated because he would not renounce Christ and because he believed in the sacredness of married love. Bishop Valentine was martyred on February 14, 270 A.D.

Isn’t that a great love story? Valentine was able to love his jailer, even seeing the daughter of his jailer healed of her blindness, because God first loved Valentine and filled Valentine with his love. There is a wonderful passage in the gospel of John which explains how Valentine and the other martyrs of the early church were able to show such love, forgiveness and perseverance when they faced death. Look at John 3:16-21.

16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17) For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18) Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19) And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20) For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21) But whoever does what is true comes in the light so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.

The first thing which stands out about this passage is found in verse 16. God so loved the world that he gave his son Jesus that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. After Bishop Valentine’s martyrdom Christians began exchanging valentines as tokens of their love on February 14th. In a very real way we could say that God in love sent Jesus as a valentine to the world so the world would know the love of her creator. The creator of the universe is a highly relational God that longs to know his creation. But like all valentines for his love to be known by us it has to be activated, it must be received. God, like all valentines, sometimes experiences the rejection of his love. God knows that love is not love if it is forced. God truly is a gentleman and will not force his love on us. Remember how young Roman girls allowed their names to be written on slips of paper so they could later be drawn out of a jar by a young man? Those young girls had to be willing to put their names in that jar, so we to must be willing to experience God’s love. We must believe in God’s valentine the Lord Jesus Christ if we want to experience God’s love.