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Tempted, Tried and Never Failing

Series: Luke

Sermon by J. Ligon Duncan on Apr 19, 2009

Luke 4:1-13

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The Lord's Day Morning

April 19, 2009

Communion Sunday

Luke 4:1-13

“Tempted, Tried but Never Failing”

Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III

CALL TO WORSHIP: O come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker, for He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care. Let us worship Him.

Our Lord and our God, we need You more than food. We love You more than life. We treasure You more than anything. We come today by the gospel; we come today by the cross; we come today by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting in Him alone. Nothing in our hands we bring, simply to the cross we cling. We come to You in faith, looking for Your grace, looking for yourself. We want to know You, we want to commune with You, we want to fellowship with You. We want to engage with You in Your word and at Your table on the terms that You propose and in the way that You alone make possible. So, come, Holy Spirit, and enable us to worship in Spirit and in truth. And come, Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and invite us to and sit down and sup with us at Your table spread by Christ, spread by grace, and get all the glory for

it. We ask in Jesus' name. Amen.

If you have your Bibles, I'd invite you to turn with me to the Gospel of Luke, the fourth chapter. We’ll be looking at verses 1-13. We've been making our way through the Gospel of Luke together, and when we were last together in this series we were looking at the end of Luke 3, at the genealogy of Christ and especially what it teaches about Him.

Today we find ourselves in the wilderness with Jesus, and He is being tempted by Satan. I want to draw your attention to a number of things to look for and a few things to bear in mind as God's word is read in this great passage today.

First of all, isn't it striking as you read this passage that Jesus answers each temptation from Satan with Scripture? I mean, if ever there was someone who had the right to answer Satan with his own words, it was the Lord Jesus Christ. But He takes Satan to the Bible and He answers Satan by the Bible, and there is a great word of instruction for us in that. If the Lord Jesus takes Satan to the Bible in rebuking Him, surely it is to the Scriptures that we must go as our only rule of faith and life.

Notice also that what is playing out in Luke 4:1-13 is a parallel to Genesis 3. In Genesis 3 Eve and Adam are tempted by the evil one — the devil, Satan in the form of a talking serpent — in the beautiful pristine garden. It is a perfect world in which there is no sin in humanity, and yet this fallen angel in the guise of a talking serpent comes to tempt Eve and Adam. And in contrast, Luke is painting us a very different picture of the place of Jesus’ temptation. He is not in a garden, He's in a wilderness; and that in and of itself provides us a very graphic contrast between the unfallen world of Adam and the fallen world in which our Savior lived. This temptation is the temptation, in other words, of the second Adam. Paul will put it this way:

“For through one man's disobedience all died, so also through one man's act of obedience all are made alive.”

That is, as we are in Adam, all die; all those who are in Jesus Christ, however, are made alive. So what we have is a contrast between Genesis 3 and Luke 4: the temptation of the first Adam — a temptation which he failed and thus plunged us all into an estate of sin and misery — and the temptation of the second Adam — which He passed and thus opened the doorway of life to all who trust in Him. So it's not a garden but a wilderness that this temptation takes place in. It is a picture of our fallen world.

Notice also other contrasts between these temptations. Adam is tempted once and sins and three curses follow. Jesus is tempted not once, not twice, but three times, and passes every test, and God's blessings follow. Jesus, in contrast to Adam, lived in a fallen world sinlessly; Adam lived in a sinless world, and by his sinful actions filled it with sin. So there are amazing contrasts between the temptation in the garden and the temptation in the wilderness that you should be on the lookout for as we work our way through the passage. We won't be able to give close attention to each of the three temptations, but just notice them.

First, there is a temptation to make bread from stones. This is a temptation to cause Jesus not to trust in God's providence.

Then there is a temptation to worship Satan and then be given the whole world. This is a temptation for Jesus to bypass the cross and to engage in idolatry.

And then the third temptation is to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple and to trust God and His angels to save Him from destruction. This is a temptation to presume upon the care of the Lord. All of these are dread temptations.

Now let's look to the Lord in prayer and ask for His help and blessing as we prepare to study this word.

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the Scriptures, for as the Lord Jesus will teach us in just a few moments, we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from Your mouth. This is no less true today than it was true in the wilderness when our Lord was being tempted. So grant, O Lord, that we would taste and see that You are good, and that we would read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the truth of Your holy Scriptures. This we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.

Hear the word of God:

“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, He was hungry. The devil said to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone.”’ And the devil took Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to Him, ‘To You I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If You then will worship me, it will all be Yours.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written,
“You shall worship the Lord your God,
and Him only shall you serve.”’
And he took Him to Jerusalem and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
“He will command His angels concerning you,
to guard you,”
and
“On their hands they will bear You up
lest You strike Your foot against a stone.”’
And Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”’
And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”

Amen. And thus ends this reading of God's holy, inspired, and inerrant word. May He write its eternal truth upon all our hearts.

In this great passage, Luke is recording for us the temptation of Jesus Christ in the wilderness so that we would learn something about God's providence and something about God's provision for us in Jesus Christ, and it's those two things I want to look at with you very briefly this morning.

I. God's providence.

The first thing that Luke wants to draw to our attention is an important truth about God's providence. Did you notice that Luke emphasizes that Jesus is not in the wilderness by accident? Jesus is not someplace where He's not supposed to be. Who has led Jesus into the wilderness? It is the Spirit who has led Jesus into the wilderness.

Look at verse 1. Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit, and He is led by the Spirit in the wilderness. Jesus is exactly where God the Spirit wants Him to be, and yet while in the wilderness in the midst of spiritual exercises in which He is fasting…. And you know what fasting is for. Fasting is designed to deprive you of the comfort of the very basic necessities of life in water and in food, so that you will remember (1) that everything that you have comes from God; (2) so that you will remember that you are utterly dependent upon God; (3) so that you will remember that God is better than any of the gifts that He gives — that He's better than food and water, and He's the giver of food and water, and that you’re utterly dependent upon Him for it. And so Jesus is engaging in spiritual exercises, and precisely at this place Satan comes to meet Him.

It reminds you, doesn't it, of another place where Satan came to tempt a godly man? It's in the book of Job. And in Job 1 and 2, we're told that it is God who brought Satan's attention to Job: “Have you considered,” God says to Satan, “…have you considered my servant Job?”

Here's Jesus devoting himself by fasting to the Lord in the wilderness, led by the Holy Spirit, and it is precisely there that He encounters His great temptation. Now there is an important truth about God's providence that the Lord intends us to learn from this, my friends, and it's simply this: You can be in the center of God's will, you can be doing exactly what God would have you to do and right there you can encounter your greatest trials, your deepest sorrows, your most intrepid testings. Jesus is doing exactly what the Father would have Him do. He's led by the Holy Spirit, and it's precisely there that He encounters this great temptation.

Now, friends, that ought to be a word of encouragement to some of you. Some of you have been faithfully trying to serve your Lord and God. You've tried to do exactly what you know He would have you do, according to His word. And yet you have found yourself in deep trials and problems and heartaches and heartbreaks, and you've wondered, “Have I done something wrong? If I were only in the center of God's will, this wouldn't be happening to me right now.” And here's the Lord Jesus doing exactly what the Lord would have Him to do, and He is facing the great trial and temptation of the second Adam.

My friends, sometimes you are right where the Lord wants you, and trial and temptation is right there, too. We must never ever forget that. You know there are some people who say if you’ll become a Christian, all your problems will be over. Our Lord's own experience makes it clear that that is not true. Do not think that when you encounter problems it is necessarily because you are not doing what God would have you to do, because sometimes right in the midst of doing precisely what the Lord would have you to do we encounter various trials and testings. The Lord Jesus did, and if it happens to the Master, should we be surprised that it happens to His disciples? There's a great message of God's providence in this passage that just because you love the Lord Jesus, just because you’re following the living God, just because you’re trusting in the gospel doesn't mean that you will not have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. It doesn't mean that you will not face trials and tribulations and testings. What it does mean is that even when you’re there in the valley of the shadow of death, He will be with you.

II. God's provision for us in Jesus Christ.

There's a second thing that Luke especially wants to draw our attention to here, and that is God's provision for us in Jesus Christ. I want to draw your attention especially to the first temptation because it captures it so well. You understand what Satan is doing when He tells Jesus, who has been fasting for forty days…he tells Jesus, ‘Look, Jesus. You’re hungry. Why don't You just turn that stone into bread and eat?’

What's going on with that temptation? It is a temptation for Jesus to question the love and goodness and provision of God His Father. It's a temptation for Jesus to take into His own hands the provision of what He needs, and not to trust in God's provision of what He needs. It's a temptation for Jesus to contradict everything that He's been doing in the fasting. The fasting is supposed to drive home to anyone who is fasting that it's God who provides for us. He's the one who gives us what we need. And Satan is saying, ‘Jesus, look, You’re hungry. Where's Your Father? Surely if Your Father loved You, He would have spread a meal for You here in the wilderness! So here's what You do. Just turn that stone into bread. I know You can do it. You've got the power to do it. You can do miracles. You’re going to give people all the food they can eat from a few measly loaves and fishes in a few months. I know that You can turn that stone into bread. Your Father's forgotten about You. He doesn't care about what You need. Make it yourself!’ He's tempting Jesus to question the goodness of God.

And does that ring a bell to you? Back in the garden, Satan had come to Eve and he’d asked her a question: ‘Do you mean to tell me that God told you you couldn't eat of all these beautiful trees in the garden?’ Now you, like Eve, know that that's not what God's command was. It was one tree that they were not to eat of. But why does Satan put it that way? Because he's trying to put this thought in Eve's heart: ‘God doesn't care about you. God's not good to you. God's not generous to you. He's stingy and unreasonable, and He doesn't care about your best interests. I, on the other hand, care about your best interests. So here's what you ought to do, Eve. You ought to take from that tree the fruit that God said don't eat, and you should eat from that tree. Because God's not good. You've got to take care of yourself.’

Do you know what Derek Kidner ways about that verse? He says,

“So simple an act, so hard its undoing. God will taste poverty and death
before “Take and eat” become verbs of salvation.”

And do you see what Satan is doing here in the wilderness to Jesus? ‘Jesus, take! Eat! You need that bread! Your Father's not provided it for You. He's not good. He's not worth living for and dying for, because He's not loving and He's not generous and He's not good.’

Do you understand, my friends, that every time we face the temptation to sin that is the temptation that we're playing out over again? Every time you look to take something that's not yours, you’re saying that God hasn't provided me what I need so I'm going to take it for myself. Every time you’re tempted to take someone who is not yours, you’re saying God hasn't provided me with the someone that I need, and so I'm going to take what I need. You are playing out again the lie of the evil one who says that God is not good and that He doesn't give what we need. And here's Jesus, and Jesus’ response to Satan is this: ‘I don't live by bread alone. I live by every word that proceeds from My Father's mouth.’ And so Jesus resists the temptation of Satan — ‘Take and eat that bread, Jesus! Take and eat that bread, Adam and Eve, because God's not going to provide for you. He's not good.’ And Jesus says, ‘No. I live by the words of My Father's mouth. I will not take and eat.’

But then Jesus turns to His people and He says, “Take, eat; this is My body which is given for you.” ‘God has provided for you, My people, everything that you need, and it's Me. So here; take and eat freely, because your Father has in the goodness of His heart given you the most precious thing in this world. Can you doubt His goodness and love? He has given you Me.’ Jesus turns those words of temptation into words of salvation by His perfect obedience, by His resistance to temptation and by His dying the death on the cross in our place.

Oh, my friends! When the temptation comes to you to take what Satan says that you need when it is what God says that you must not take, remember your Savior and live in the second Adam, not in the first. And so be found raised to newness of life in the second Adam, instead of condemned to death in the first.

Let's pray.

Heavenly Father, we bow before You this day thanking You for Your providence over every aspect of our life and for Your provision for us in the gospel. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Now let's prepare to come to the Lord's table singing No. 252, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

“When I survey the wondrous cross

on which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

and pour contempt on all my pride.”

~~~

The Lord's Supper

Dr. Duncan: As we come to the Lord's Table let's give attention to the words of institution of the sacrament spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ and given to the Apostle Paul, written in Scripture in I Corinthians 11:23-29:

“For this I received from the Lord, that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, ‘This is My body, which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat the bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.”

The Reverend Mr. Nate Shurden: The Lord's Supper is a sacrament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a covenant sign and seal meant to strengthen us in the faith and to ratify God's promises to His people. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ this morning, trusting in Him alone for salvation and a member of an evangelical church (a gospel-believing church), we invite you to this table. This is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ's table, not First Presbyterian Church's table or the table of this denomination, but this is Christ's table.

If you are an unbeliever here this morning…maybe you are seeking the Lord in faith…we ask that you would wait, that you would refrain from this table, taking the Apostle Paul's admonition in I Corinthians 11. We pray that you would consider what this table says to us, the message of what Jesus has done for you; that you would pray; that you would repent; and that you would believe in Christ in the gospel.

Dr. Duncan: Let us pray, setting aside these common elements to a holy use.

Eternal God, Lord of creation, Triune One made manifest in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, as we gather at Your table today at Your own bidding, we acknowledge Your grace to us. Make these common elements to serve as Your means of grace to us, Your people; and grant that we would receive them by faith and so taste of heavenly mercies bestowed by Your Holy Spirit. This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Mr. Shurden: The Lord's Supper is a communing sacrament where we meet with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and so it is appropriate that we would gather as believers and confess our faith in Christ. Christian, what do you believe?

[Ministers and Congregation]

I believe in God the Father Almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,

Born of the virgin Mary,

Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day He rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven,

And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church;

The communion of the saints; the forgiveness of sins;

The resurrection of the body;

And the life everlasting.

Amen.

Dr. Duncan: If you would, take your bulletins out and look at the synopsis of The Ten Commandments printed on the bottom of the back panel. It's appropriate as we come to the Lord's Table that we recite The Ten Commandments for many reasons, but one is this: in each of these commandments we see Satan saying to us, ‘Take other Gods before Him. Make for yourselves idols. Take the Lord's name in vain. Do not remember the Sabbath Day. Do not honor your father and mother. Murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, covet. Take all of these things.’

The Lord Jesus Christ says, ‘I have borne the penalty of all your sins against all those commandments of God. Don't take the liberty to break God's law. Take Me, instead.’ Let's confess before God His standards and what God has done for us in Jesus Christ to fulfill them on our behalf when we have fallen short:

[Ministers and Congregation]

You shall have no other gods before Me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol. You shall not worship them or serve them.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Honor your father and your mother.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night that He was betrayed, took bread and broke it and gave it to His disciples, as I now ministering in His name give it to you. And He said to them, “Take, eat. This is My body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

[Elements given.]

Mr. Shurden: In the same way, after supper the Lord Jesus took the cup and said, “This is the new covenant in My blood. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

[Elements given.]

Dr. Duncan: [Giving elements to elders.]

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believed on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“Jesus said, ‘No one comes to the Father but by Me.’
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Mr. Shurden: [Giving elements to elders.]

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered himself up for me.”
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

Let us pray.

Our Father in heaven, we do know it to be a deep and abiding privilege to have sat at Your table this day. We remember that there are many who have sat in years and centuries, even millenniums before, who have loved You and whom You have loved. Help us by the grace of the Holy Spirit to preserve in us the witness of the gospel. Keep us from the fiery darts of the evil one, and make us faithful by Your grace to the vows which we have made, even in our first communion. Give us grace to walk with the Savior and all His people in unity and in truth. Receive our thanks in Jesus' name. Amen.

As they did in the first Lord's Supper, we will close this day with a hymn. Please take your bulletins in hand. We will sing The Power of the Cross.

[Congregation sings.]

“O to see the dawn of the darkest day;
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men, torn and beaten, then,
nailed to a cross of wood.
This the power of the cross.
Christ became sin for us.
Took the blame, bore the wrath;
we stand forgiven at the cross.”

Dr. Duncan: Peace to all you who trust in Christ as He's offered in the gospel, through the love of God your Father and the grace of your Jesus, the Messiah.

[Choir: Five-fold Amen, PINEHURST]

THE LORD'S DAY

The Nineteenth Day of April, Two Thousand Nine

MORNING WORSHIP

Eight-Thirty and Eleven O'Clock

Senior Minister – The Reverend Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III

Assisting Minister – The Reverend Nathan D. Shurden

Minister of Discipleship

The Greetings and Announcements (8:20 and 10:50 a.m.)

The Prelude – "My Shepherd Will Supply All My Need"........Arr. Craig Duncan

Shellie Brown, Violinist; Connie S. Wadsworth, Organist

The Introit – "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty"...........................................Lobe Den Herren

The Call to Worship

‡ The Hymn of Praise No. 167 – "When Morning Gilds the Skies"

‡ The Prayer of Adoration and Invocation

The Public Profession of Faith

The Biblical Basis

The Introduction of New Members and Communicants

The Questions of Membership

The Prayer

The Declaration

The Blessing

The Presentation of God's Tithes and Our Offerings

The Anthem – "Were You There?".............................................Southern Spiritual

"Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble.

Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble.

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

Were you there when He rose up from the dead?

Oh! Sometimes I feel like shouting glory!

Were you there when He rose up from the dead?"

The Prayer of Illumination

The Reading of Holy Scripture – Luke 4:1-13 (Pew Bible page 859)

The Sermon – "Tempted, Tried but Never Failing"..............................Dr. Duncan

‡ The Hymn of Preparation No. 252 – "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross"

The Lord's Supper

The Words of Institution

The Invitation

The Prayer of Consecration

The Apostles' Creed

The Ten Commandments

The Communion with Our Lord Jesus Christ and His People

The Prayer of Thanksgiving

‡ The Hymn – "The Power of the Cross" (See Guide)

‡ The Benediction

The Response – "Five-fold Amen"...........................................................Pinehurst

The Postlude – "Postludium....................................................................Ron Boud

A Guide to the Morning Service

At First Presbyterian Church, we follow the old Southern Presbyterian practice of celebrating the Lord's Supper (what some churches call the “Eucharist” or “Holy Communion”) four times a year. The Ruling Elders of our church assist in the distribution of the elements of the Supper as a visible manifestation of their pastoral care of the flock. The biblical teaching on the nature of the sacraments may be epitomized as follows: God's sacraments or covenant signs/seals are “visible words” (Augustine). In them we see with our eyes the promise of God. Indeed, in the sacraments we see, smell, touch and taste the word. In the public reading and preaching of Scripture, God addresses our mind and conscience through the hearing. In the sacraments, He uniquely addresses our mind and conscience through the other senses. In, through and to the senses, God's promise is made tangible. A sacrament is a covenant sign and seal, which means it reminds us and assures us of a promise. That is, it points to and confirms a gracious promise of God to His people. Another way of saying it is that a sacrament is an action designed by God to sign (symbolize) and seal (ratify) a covenantal reality, accomplished by the power and grace of God, the significance of which has been communicated by the word of God, and the reality of which is received or entered into only by faith. Hence, the weakness, the frailty of human faith welcomes this gracious act of reassurance. The sacraments are by nature supplemental to and confirmatory of the promises held out in the word, and the grace conveyed by them is the same grace held out via the means of preaching. The sacraments are efficacious for the elect and the elect only, since their benefits are sanctificational (that is, the Lord's Supper doesn't “save” us, it grows us) and received by faith. In the Lord's Supper, the Christian, by faith, experiences true communion with Christ in all His benefits. Since the Lord's Supper is for professing believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who have “discerned the body of the Lord”–that is, the Church–(1 Corinthians 11:29), it is appropriate that we confess our faith together before we take it. We often use the Apostles’ Creed in order to publicly declare our whole-hearted embrace of the truth of the faith once-delivered. We also recite the Ten Commandments prior to taking the Lord's Supper. By recounting the Law directly adjacent to the Gospel ordinance of the Lord's Supper we are reminded of our need for the forgiveness of sins and the rich provision we have in Jesus Christ's perfect obedience (see Romans 5:20).

The Invitation

The Lord's Table is for those who are trusting in Jesus Christ. So we invite to this table, the Lord's table, all those who trust in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation as He is offered in the Gospel and who have joined themselves to the body of Christ, His Church. If you are not a believer in Christ who has identified yourself with His Church, don't come to the table. Rather, wait, think, pray, repent, and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Parents will want to take note that we do not practice paedo-communion (infants or young children who have not yet taken membership vows partaking of the Lord's Supper) at First Presbyterian Church. Young people who have answered the five questions of church membership and thus have become communicant members of First Presbyterian Church (or the equivalent at some other Gospel-believing church) are invited to the table.

The Presence of Christ

The consensus of Reformed teaching on the way in which Christ is present in the Lord's Supper may be summarized as follows: there is absolutely no corporeal presence of Christ whatsoever in the Lord's Supper. The believer does not corporeally partake of Christ in the Supper. Christ is not elementally, spatially, or locally present in the Supper in any way. There is no change or conversion of the elements in the Supper. The believer does indeed receive Christ in the Supper, but not by the mouth, rather by faith. Nor does Christ's humanity come down to the believer, but by the Spirit the believer is raised in heart to receive Christ in His ascended glory.

© First Presbyterian Church.

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