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What would it have looked like if the Apostles wrote letters home like missionaries write letters home?  This is part of a series.  This is a letter from the perspective of Philip, one of the disciples of Jesus. Philip Kendall writes from this perspective. Biblical references at the end of this post. 


To my fellow believers in Bethsaida, greetings,


God has been at work in incredible ways through the power of the teacher, Jesus! I will tell you about something you probably have already heard some rumor of: how the teacher Jesus fed a vast crowd of five thousand men, plus women and children, in the wilderness not far from our town. Some of you were probably there and saw the miracle with your own eyes, but for the rest of you, I will tell of this wonder accomplished through the teacher Jesus.

Short-term mission

In my last letter, I told you about the short-term missions Jesus had sent us out on. To recap: we went in pairs, taking only what was absolutely necessary for the journey, and preached the teacher’s message of repentance. We were given authority over unclean spirits and to perform miracles, and many miracles were accomplished through us. I’m phrasing it this way because none of this was by our own power.

Thank you for praying for the success of these missions. In one village alone, Nathanael and I cast demons out of seven different people, as well as healing many sick people. The other disciples experienced similar wonders.

When I and the rest of the twelve returned from our short-term missions, we were elated. I will say plainly that God worked mightily through us, and we saw his awesome power plainly. We praised God for all that he had done.

The miracle of the loaves

We were also exhausted. Even having returned to Jesus, we found precious little rest. The teacher’s fame had spread far and wide, and so many people were coming and going we didn’t even have time to eat. In order to give us a chance to rest, the teacher decided we should take a furlough.

Since many of us are from the region near Bethsaida, the teacher brought us to the wilderness outside of the town. I was greatly looking forward to the break, as I could not remember when I had last had a real rest. I was also looking forward to some one-on-one time with the teacher, as he had not had time to teach us for quite a while.

We took a boat across the lake to get away from the crowds, but a new crowd had already formed by the time we landed. As usual, the teacher was far more compassionate than I was. Instead of turning around, he got out of the boat and began to teach them.

You know the rest: when the teacher saw that it was late, he decided to feed the entire crowd. Although we only had five loaves and two fish, Jesus was able to use it to feed everyone present.

However, at first the other disciples and I wanted to get rid of the people instead of feeding them. It was as though we had forgotten the many miracles performed through us in the past few days. It was as though we had forgotten the manna our ancestors ate in the wilderness, or the time Elisha fed one hundred men with only twenty loaves. We were, in truth, not thinking of spiritual things: we were thinking of our own bellies.

On the lake

Upon seeing the miracle, the people decided to anoint the teacher as King then and there. That was not his plan, however, so he made us get back in the boat while he went up the mountain to escape the crowd.

We were on the lake when a second miracle occurred. We were all rowing, since the wind was against us, and barely making any headway. Early in the morning, we saw what looked like a ghost walking across the surface of the lake. Terrified, we all cried out in fear, but it turns out it was the teacher! As soon as he got into the boat, the wind died down and we arrived on the opposite shore.

I think in hindsight that would have been a moment to praise God, but we were terrified. We had in our midst a man even the wind and waves obeyed. If I had eyes to see, the wonders of God would never cease to amaze me. Unfortunately, all too often I am blind – I can’t see any further than my own stomach, and I miss the miracles happening all around me.

Conclusion and Farewell

Thank you for the new tunic you sent me. The tunic I wore on the short-term mission has been reduced to rags, so the new one came just in time.

As I close my letter, I would like to thank as well for you for your prayers. Remembering that we are all in your hearts is a comforting thought, even in the midst of weariness.

May the mercy and peace of our God rest upon you.


Discussion Questions: 

On your social media, share a response to this blog post with the link so others may read it, too, and contribute to your conversation. Or you can leave your thoughts in the comments below. What are your thoughts on these questions? 

  • Have you ever let surrounding circumstances cloud your vision, so you miss “the miracles happening” all around you? Tell us about that.
  • In serving in ministry, did weariness ever make you feel too tired to think of other needs or to see opportunities right in front of you? Tell us about that.

From The Series: 

Related Articles and Resources: 

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Heidi Frazee says:

    Fascinating to read this story from this perspective. The mention of taking a furlough was familial. As a missionary I’m often so busy with meeting those daily physical needs that I miss the God opportunities he brings our way. The needs of the crowds are great and it’s easy you want to run away from them. God help us!

  • Nikole Hahn says:

    I was thinking the same thing. It was indeed a good perspective.

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