Heaven's Valentine

Bible Book: John  3 : 16
Subject: Love of God; Jesus, God's Love in

While there are many questions surrounding the legend, it is said that Valentine’s Day gets its name from St. Valentine, a priest that lived under the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius II. When the emperor passed a law that all young men must remain single, in order to make them better soldiers, Valentine supposedly broke the emperor’s order by secretly performing marriages.

The legend also says that while he was imprisoned for this crime, people would slip him notes written on folded pieces of paper that they would hide in the cracks of the rocks around his cell. From this, the Valentine, and the holiday, are said to have come.

In our day, Valentines Day has become a commercial conspiracy against husbands and boyfriends that is spearheaded by the chocolate, greeting card, floral, and jewelry industries.

When we open the Word of God to what is undoubtedly the most familiar verse in the Bible, we find what you might describe as Heaven’s Valentine.

It is a love note containing only one sentence – some twenty five words that speak more than a library full of books.

It is a verse that is familiar, and yet its subject is always fresh. Though we have heard it many times before, it is still sweet to hear those words, “God so loved the world.”

With Valentine’s Day fresh in our minds, I think it would be good for us to take another look at Heaven’s Valentine.

From this memorable verse, there are three truths on which I want us to focus. Each of these truths reminds us of another aspect of God’s love. Notice first of all that:


Love is a word that we have unfortunately devalued in our culture. We are apt to ascribe our love to almost anything from a sports team, to a particular food.

Because the word “love” means so many things in our day, it is important that we identify the kind of love we are talking about. For instance, I may love someone with a brotherly love. Then, I may also love my wife, but I love her with a different kind of love.

In John 3:16, the Lord Jesus said, “For God so loved…” What kind of love was He talking about? He was talking about divine love. Love of a supernatural kind.

To say that God’s love is a supernatural love, we are indicating that there is something unusual and distinct about it. Think with me about couple of truths that make God’s love a supernatural love. Notice first of all that God’s love is supernatural:

A. In its Origin

In John 3:16, the subject of the sentence is God. He is the One that is doing or giving the love. The love in this case originates with God.

Ponder that for a moment. God is an infinitely holy Being. In Him there is no tinge of wrong, no shade of iniquity. He is perfection and purity in their highest form.

And yet we are told that this immaculate God has love for the fallen, filthy, fragile race of people that make up this world.

There is nothing supernatural about loving that which is lovely and beautiful. No, that is normal love. But in the person of God, we find a love that loves that which is in no way lovely, and not the least bit beautiful.

There is in God much for us to love. To love Him is natural. Yet for Him to love us, knowing who and what we are, that is supernatural love.

Someone once asked the brilliant, and famed theologian, Karl Barth, this question: “What is the greatest thought you ever had?” Barth answered, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”i

The love of John 3:16 is a supernatural love because it originates from a supernatural God! Notice also further that God’s love is supernatural, not only in its origin, but notice also further that it is supernatural:

B. In its Order

In John 3:16, we are told that “God so loved the world…” Romans 5:8 expands on that thought at tells us that, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

When we love, it is always because there is something that has prompted our love. We love because we find someone attractive, or because there is something in them that warrants our love.

Many times, we will only love is the same thing is returned to us. We will love only if we are loved in return.

Yet when we look at the love of God, we are reminded that His love is a preemptive love. He loves before there is any reason to love.

The order of God’s love is that while we were “yet sinners” God was loving us in Christ. He loves first! He loves before there is warrant or reason to love.

God’s love is supernatural because it exists without any fuel. He loves initially, and He loves indefinitely.

They say that you never forget your first love. Do you remember the first time your heart brimmed with love for someone? There was something that brought on that love. There was a motivating factor.

Yet in God’s love, we find no starting point. He loves first. Go back as far as you want into the reaches of eternity past, eons before Eden, and there in the blackness of nothing, there where no one but the Eternal Godhead existed, and there you will find the supernatural love of God!

Heaven’s Valentine points us to the fact that God’s love is supernatural. Notice that we also find a second truth in this familiar verse. God’s love is not only a supernatural love:


Look again at the words of this verse. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…”

The words of Christ teach us that God loved so much that He did something about it – He gave. His love is no mere noun; it is a verb. It is love in action.

A pig and a chicken were walking down the road when they saw a sign in a restaurant advertising a special on ham and eggs. The chicken said, “I don’t like that sign.” The pig replied, “You don’t like the sign. For you it’s just an offering. For me it’s a sacrifice.”

We may flippantly use the word “love”, but God does not. For God, love is a sacrifice!

Notice with me a couple of truths relating to the sacrificial love of God. Notice first of all:

A. It is an Amazing Sacrifice

Those of you who are parents, read those words again carefully. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son…”

At times my children may annoy me and frustrate me, but I can assure that there is nothing on this earth so precious to me as the lives of my two children.

I would, without hesitation, lay down my own life in order to spare them from harm. I love them in a way that only a parent can truly understand.

It is for that reason that the words of John 3:16 still amaze and astonish me. There is something startling about it. God gave up His only Son for the salvation of others.

As deep as my love is for my own children, it is surely imperfect, and certainly not to the level of love the Father has for His Son! And yet, as Paul says, He “spared not His own Son”, but “delivered Him up for us all.” Is that not an amazing sacrifice?

John Newton was born in 1725, in England. His father was shipmaster, and John followed in his footsteps, which eventually landed him as a captain on a slave ship. He described himself as an “infidel”, and admitted that he had no spiritual life.

Somewhere, in the middle of the ocean, caught in a storm, Newton repented of his sins, and trusted fully in Christ. His life was changed, and in 1722, while preparing a sermon, he wrote the following lines:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me,

I once was lost, but now I’m found,

Was blind, but now I see!

When we consider the immeasurable sacrifice God made in the person of His Son, can we call it anything less than amazing?

The sacrificial love of God is demonstrated not only in the fact that it is an amazing sacrifice, but notice also further that:

B. It is an Appropriate Sacrifice

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son…” We are amazed at the sacrifice when we see that it was His only begotten Son. Then when we focus on that Son, we see that no other sacrifice would do.

Man’s sins stood against him, condemning the whole race as guilty before God’s righteous law. Death was our punishment, and rightfully and justly so.

Only a perfect representative could stand in the place of guilty men. He had to be One of us, and yet without sin, in order to be our sacrifice.

In Christ, all the requirements of the law are met, and He is the perfect Sin-bearer for those that are lost.

The love God is such, that in Christ Jesus we have the appropriate, sufficient sacrifice for the atonement, forgiveness, and propitiation of our sins.

It is quite possible that today, there are some men who are in trouble because they gave the wrong gift this Valentines Day. I knew a fellow once that gave his wife a vacuum cleaner with her initials engraved on it. You can imagine how well that went.

In the Lord Jesus, God has given us the perfect, appropriate gift! We needed a Savior, so God sent His Son!

One of my favorite writers is the late J. Sidlow Baxter. In his book on John 3:16, he writes: “Oh, what a Savior this is! …He spans the gulf between sinful man and the all-holy God…There is no other Savior. Thank God, there is no need of any other; for this one-and-only Savior is all-sufficient.”ii

In this epic verse, we see not only that God’s love is a supernatural love, and God’s love is a sacrificial love, but notice also thirdly that:


Look with me at the remainder of this verse. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

What makes the love of God most remarkable, is that when we respond to it in faith, the sacrifice becomes our salvation!

A husband stands by his wife’s bed. She is dying. He loves her with a steadfast love, and yet, his love has no power to save her.

Yet in God’s love, there is power! It is a love the saves those who receive it! Notice with me a couple of things about the saving nature of God’s love. Notice first of all that the saving love of God:

A. Proclaims an Unlimited Reach

Look again at the verse. All these words are critical, and yet there is something enormously important in that one word -“whosoever.”

The love of God is not extended only to those of rank and stature. He does not just love the lovely, or the wealthy, or the healthy. He does not limit his love merely to those that clean cut, moralistic, educated, and decent.

No, the gate to God’s love swings wide enough that “whosoever” will may enter in and rest. His love is a saving love that proclaims an unlimited reach.

The old Puritan, Richard Baxter, said something wonderful about this word “whosoever”. He said, “I would rather have that word ‘whosoever’ in John 3:16 than have [there] Richard Baxter, for then I should at once be tempted to believe that it is for some other Richard Baxter.”

The love of God is a love for whosoever. It reaches to the religious man as well as to the reprobate. It calls to the decent and the depraved. It opens heaven up for the low-class, the no-class, and the outcast.

With the songwriter, I say:

I am so glad that Jesus loves me,

Jesus loves even me!

The saving love of God not only proclaims an unlimited reach, but notice also further that it:

B. Provides an Unending Rescue

Return with me again to our text. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Remember now, “perish” is exactly what should happen to us. We’ve broken God’s Law. We have rebelled against Him.

Justice calls for us to perish for our sins. Yet in the love of God we are told that we can be rescued from that righteous wrath that is to come.

We deserve everlasting punishment, but in the love of God in Christ, we receive everlasting life! We deserved eternal separation; we receive eternal salvation!

Think for a moment on that word “everlasting”. What do you know that is everlasting? Our feeble minds cannot fathom it. Something with no ending is a concept that eludes us.

And yet, that is exactly what the saving love of God offers. It provides an unending rescue from the condemnation of sin.

One day, this body of mine will cease its vital functions. My heart will pump its last ounces of blood. My lungs will exhale their last measure of air. The activity of my brain will cease, and at that moment they will say of me, “He has died.”

If you hear that, you don’t believe a word of it. I cannot die – not in the truest sense of that word. The love of God has given me an unending rescue from death, hell, and the grave!


Can you imagine trying to explain the color “green” to a blind man that has never seen colors? You couldn’t talk about the grass, for he has never seen it. You couldn’t say, “Green is like something,” for he has never seen anything.

In many ways, that is how I feel when I try to describe the love of God. It is so big, so powerful, so unusual, and so incomparable, that I struggle to explain it.

Perhaps, the best explanation for the love of God can only be found in the words of God himself. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

May the love of God be shed abroad in our hearts afresh, as we read again Heaven’s Valentine!


i The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart; Swindoll, Charles; p. 235

ii God So Loved; Baxter, J. Sidlow; p. 54