The prison door swings open, revealing the condemned man sitting calmly on the stony floor. The jailer pauses for a moment, surveying the man who has become like family. The man who has befriended his poor blind daughter, tutoring her, giving her new sight. Now only a few moments stand between this friend and eternity.
“I … I’m sorry,” he begins.
The prisoner slowly nods and then pulls a scrap of parchment from his robe. “Would you be kind enough to give this to your daughter?”
“A final lesson?”
“A goodbye—from her Valentine.”
On February 14, 270 B.C., in Rome, one of the three known saints called Valentine was beaten and beheaded per order of Claudius II. Some legends say that St. Valentine defied Claudius’ anti-marriage law and officiated Christian marriages. Whether or not that is true, most historians consider him a Christian martyr.
According to the legend, St. Valentine formed a friendship with the jailer’s blind daughter, Julia. He instructed her in many subjects, including Scripture. After a period of time, she accepted Christ, and her sight was restored. Before his death, he left his young friend a note signed “from your Valentine.”
The apostle Paul had a similar miraculous experience with a jailer and his family in Acts 16. While he and Silas were in the inner prison praising God, a God-sent earthquake opened all the prison doors. Rather than fleeing, Paul stopped the jailer from committing suicide, assuring him that no one had escaped. Frightened and bewildered, the jailer cried, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (v. 30).
Paul’s response was simple: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (v. 31). Later that evening, Paul led the jailer to salvation and baptized him and his family.
Both St. Valentine and Paul demonstrated love through sharing the Gospel. For humans, there is no better way to show love than by sharing God’s love story. And there is no greater love than God’s.
Christ on the cross paints the purest picture of love and sacrifice. His ultimate sacrifice is greater than any love known to man. He is our ultimate Groom, giving up everything to redeem His bride. As John 15:13 says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
As Christians, we know and understand love because we have experienced Christ’s love. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Christ has given us the greatest Valentine—Himself. What better way to show love to our neighbors than to share the story of God’s love with them.