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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
January 20, 2008
The Messiah Begins Ministry
Matthew 3 & 4 & Selected
In our study last week we examined the many prophecies concerning the arrival of the promised Messiah and found that there has been only one person who ever could fulfill all the specific details of those prophecies. The Messiah had to have a specific blood lineage tracing from Adam through Abraham and through King David, but not be a descendant of King Jehoiakim (Jeconiah is the son of Jehoiakim – 1 Kings 24:6), and yet still inherit the right to the throne. He had to be a man and yet avoid the curse of sin placed on all Adam’s descendants by being born by a virgin. He had to be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah at a time that would allow Him to be alive at the conclusion of the 69 prophetic weeks of Daniel 9. He had to live a sinless life, and He had to demonstrate that He was indeed the Son of God. Only Jesus has or ever could fulfill these prophecies which is why He is the Christ, the promised Messiah. (See: The Arrival of the Promised Messiah)
Another prophecy related to the coming of the Messiah is found in Isaiah 40:3-5 which predicts, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God.” There would be a herald that would announce and prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. All four gospels state that this herald was John, the son of Zacharias, the man we commonly refer to as John the Baptist. Luke 1:5-21 tells the story of the angel speaking to Zacharias about the son Elizabeth would bear for him. The angel specifically told Zacharias that he was to name his son John (vs. 13), how he was to raise him (vs. 15) and the manner and purpose of his life (vs. 15-16) which included that John would go before Him [the Messiah] in the spirit and power of Elijah, `to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” John would be the fulfillment of Malachi 4:6. In the prophecy that Zacharias gave after John’s birth, he again stated that John would be the prophet of the Most High who would prepare the way for the Messiah (Luke 1:67-79). (See: The Messiah’s Herald – Matt. 3:1)
John was six months older than Jesus and they were related through their mothers (Luke 1:36). John fulfilled the prophecies concerning him and began his ministry in the wilderness of Judea calling for people to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:1). Repentance is a change of mind resulting in a change of heart (will) and action. Repentance was a common theme of the prophets throughout Jewish history, but John’s call was directly tied to the coming of the kingdom of heaven. It was a repentance of preparation for the coming of Messiah. Many were coming out from Jerusalem to John and he would baptize those who repented by confessing their sins (Matthew 3:5,6). The baptism was as an outward sign of their inward change. Baptism itself was a ritual signifying cleansing of an object or person and it was commonly done in preparation for the worship of God at the temple. It was required of proselytes to show they had turned from their paganism and were now cleansed to worship the true God. John’s baptism of repentance was similar to this proselyte baptism in that it signified a turning from sin to properly worship the true God, except that this baptism was also for Jews. John also made it very clear that his baptism of repentance was in preparation of a future baptism by the one who would come after him who would baptism them with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11). He further identified that the one coming was greater than he and would also bring judgement (Matthew 3:11,12) (See: The Herald’s Message – Matt. 3:5; ).
When Jesus was ready to begin His public ministry, the first public act that He did was to go to John to be baptized. However, John “tried to prevent Him, saying “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” (Matthew 3:14).
John knew that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the one who was the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). John recognized that Jesus was without sin and so very reluctant to baptize Jesus with a baptism of repentance. The grammar of the verb, “prevent” here is one of continual action. John kept trying to prevent Jesus from being baptized by him. John tells Jesus it should be the other way around and Jesus should baptize him.
Some have used this to attack the sinless nature of Jesus claiming that because He sought out a baptism of repentance, then He must have sinned. However, as we saw in our study last week, Jesus neither inherited sin nor sinned Himself at any time (2 Corinthians. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5; Hebrews 4:15). Others have used Jesus’ baptism to attack His deity claiming that Jesus was just a man and did not become the Son of God until His baptism. They reason that Jesus had to be baptized so that God could make Him His son. However, Scripture is clear that Jesus was already the Son of God at His birth and not made Son of God at His baptism or any other time (Matthew 1:23; 2:15; Luke 1:32; 2:11; John 1:1,14).
Jesus gave the reason for His baptism in verse 15 saying, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill righteousness.” There has been much speculation about what this means, but the solution is not difficult if it is kept in mind who Jesus is and what He did throughout His life.
Jesus was born under the law of Moses (Gal. 4:4) and He kept the law and fulfilled it (Matthew 5:17). Jesus voluntarily submitted to divinely approved religious and secular ordinances regardless of their personal application to Him. For example, He was circumcised, presented in the Temple and celebrated the feasts even though His own relationship with God was independent of God’s covenant with Israel. Jesus’ submission to the rituals of the covenant brought Him into full identification with all of Israel. Jesus even paid taxes to Caesar though He was exempt as the Son of God (Matt 17:25-27). Jesus came into the world to identify with man so much so that Isaiah 53:12 says He would be “numbered among the transgressors.” The self-righteous Scribes and Pharisees would call Jesus a glutton and drunkard, a friend of sinners (Matt 11:19) because of His identification with man.
In the Levitical law a clean person that touched an unclean person, or in some cases even something that an unclean person had touched, would also then be considered unclean and would have to wash (Leviticus 11, etc.). Jesus was sinless and clean, and because His righteousness was internally generated and not externally granted (as is our righteousness) nothing could actually make Him unclean (such as the woman in Matthew 9:20f that touched His garment). However, in Jesus’ baptism He fulfills all righteousness by fulfilling the Levitical code of ceremonial cleanliness. Jesus came to minister to sinners (the unclean), and in His Baptism He identifies Himself with sinful man even though He Himself was without sin. Jesus’ baptism also gives approval to John’s message and sets the example for those who would follow Him.
Jesus baptism was also symbolic of His death and resurrection. He only spoke of personal baptism in two other passages and in both He related baptism symbolically to His death (Luke 12:50 & Mark 10:38). It would be in His death that all righteousness would be completed as Jesus would bear the full price of the sin of men in Himself in order that He could impute His own righteousness to sinful men. Jesus’ baptism by John was part of His identification with sinful men pointing to the time when He would bear the sin of men. (See: The Baptism of Jesus – Matthew 1:13)
Jesus’ baptism also signified the beginning of His public ministry as He was anointed by the Holy Spirit. Matthew 3:16 records, “And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him.” As Jesus comes out of the Jordan River the heavens are opened, and He and John see the Spirit of God descending upon Him as a dove (John 1:32). This confirmed the earlier vision God had given to John that the one he saw the spirit of God descending upon and remaining is the one that baptizes with the Holy Spirit and is the Son of God (John 1:33-34). (See: The Witness of John – John 1:19)
Why did the Holy Spirit come upon Jesus? In becoming a man Jesus did not lose His deity, but in His humanity He would need to be anointed for service and granted strength for ministry. This fulfilled Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of God is upon Me, because the lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners.” In His humanity Jesus would become tired and hungry and sleepy, His humanity needed strengthening, and that strength was supplied by the Holy Spirit (Matt 4:1; Luke 4:14). It was by the Holy Spirit that Jesus worked his many miracles.
The coming of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus fulfilled prophecy, strengthened Him in His humanity and was a visible sign to those who saw that this was the messiah. Verse 17 adds the commendation of the Father, and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” I wonder if any those who heard this thought of when God would talk with Moses before the children of Israel?
God the Father commends Jesus, God the Son, that He is well pleased with Him. Not just pleased, but with emphasis – well-pleased. Why? Because Jesus is perfectly fulfilling all righteousness.
It is important to point out at this point that Christian Baptism is not the same as either John’s baptism of repentance or Jesus being baptized in order to fulfill righteousness. There are similarities in that Christian Baptism is only for the repentant and it is done in obedience to Christ’s command in Matthew 28:19 that His followers are to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. However, the main purpose of Christian Baptism is a public proclamation to be a disciple of Jesus by personal identification with Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Romans 6:3-11 gives the most clear explanation of this. Verse 4 stating, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
Christian Baptism is symbolic of our dying to our old sinful self and being raised in newness of life to live in righteousness for God. That is why the remainder of Romans 6 continues on to admonish Christians to stop yielding themselves as slaves to their old master, sin, and to instead be slaves of righteousness by obedience to God. Christian Baptism is an ordinance, a religious ritual, that is a result of salvation and not a means of salvation. It is only for those old enough to express their own faith in Jesus Christ and not for those incapable of that. Contrary to the practice and teaching of other churches, infant baptism only makes babies wet and does nothing for their souls.
Jesus’ baptism marked the beginning His public ministry by the public affirmation of His Father and anointing by the Holy Spirit, but the first action of the Holy Spirit after this was to lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1). (See: The Temptation of Jesus, Part 1 – Matthew 4:1)
Take note of the following in this passage. First, this did not happen by chance, fate or bad luck, nor was it something arranged by the devil. God the Spirit leads God the Son into the wilderness to face the devil.
Second, the devil is real. He is not a guy in a red suit with a long pointed tail carrying a pitchfork. He is a fallen angel that seeks to usurp God’s glory and honor and take it for himself. Throughout this passage we will see Jesus address the devil as a real personal being. The name used for him here is diaboloV / diabolos which means “slanderer.” We will see that he does exactly that in his temptations of Jesus. He slanders God and what He has said.
Third, the temptations Jesus will face are real. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus was “tempted in all points as we are, yet with out sin.” That means that Jesus felt the full force of every temptation because He never gave in. By way of analogy to explain this point – a tree that is blown over in a hurricane only felt the force of wind of that storm until if was blown over. It is the tree that remains standing after the hurricane has past that has felt the full force of the storm.
2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. This is not a stomach growling because dinner is a little late. You can imagine that Jesus is extremely hungry after this length of time. It is at this point of being famished and corresponding physical weakness that Satan comes. Attacking when you are weak and tired is still a common tactic of the devil and why we must be extra careful when we are. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Since Jesus is the Son of God it would not be difficult for Him who has made all things (John 1:3,10; Colossians 1:16,17, etc.) to make bread to alleviate His hunger. The devil points this out and entices Jesus in the area of his humanity of physical flesh by telling Him to go ahead and make the stones into bread and satisfy His hunger. However, understand what the real temptations here is. The first is the more obvious that Jesus should prove He is the Son of God by performing a miracle and feed Himself, but behind that is a slander against God for he insinuates that God has not provided for Jesus, so Jesus should provide for Himself. The temptation is to satisfy the desires of his physical body though his own means and methods rather than relying upon God to provide.
Jesus responds in verse 4 by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, “But He answered and said, It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'” Jesus places His faith in the Father by putting His body in subjection to God and waiting for His provision.
The next area the devil attacks is pride. 5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give his angels charge concerning you’; (Ps 91:11) and ‘on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” (Ps 91:12)
The devil suggests that Jesus could gain the glory and honor of the people by throwing Himself off the pinnacle of the temple and letting the angels catch Him. The people would then see it and then believe He was the Son of God and glorify Him for it. The devil even quotes from Psalm 91:11 and 12 to prove his point. (Which just shows that the author of Scripture twisting in the devil himself). The obvious temptation is for Jesus to feed His pride by doing this and gaining the praise of the people. However, behind it is another slander against God that He had not yet caused the people to give Jesus honor and glory the way they should since He is the Son of God. The temptation is for Jesus to gain the honor and following of the people by His own means and methods instead of waiting on God’s timing.
Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 6:16 this time and says in verse 7 “on the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Jesus subjects His pride to God and will wait for God to do things in His way and timing.
Satan, who is the “prince of this world” and the “god of this age” tries to tempt Jesus a third time by showing Him something that He would want for Himself. It is a temptation in the in the area of the lust of the eyes. Verse 8 “Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” This is another slander against God suggesting that He has not come through for Jesus. The enticement is to gain the all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, but the price is to worship Satan instead of God. The temptation is for Jesus to gain the world by Satan’s method instead of gaining it by having to go through God’s plan for the cross.
This time Jesus rebukes Satan and then quotes Deuteronomy 6:13. Verse 10 – Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'” Jesus subjected Himself to the Father’s will though He knew that it would take Him to the cross. Jesus overcame the devil’s temptations resulting in Verse 11 – “Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.” James 4:7 tells us, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” That is just what occurred here. Jesus submitted Himself to the Father’s will and in doing so resisted the devil so that he fled from Him. The Father then sent His angels to minister to Jesus at the right time.
One thing I want to make sure that you understand from this passage is that Jesus did not defeat Satan by quoting Scripture. That is a common conclusion from this passage and a reason given for memorizing Scripture, but that would make the Scriptures equivalent to magical incantations. Jesus defeated the devil by knowing the Scriptures and being obedient to them. It is not enough to just be able to quote the Bible. Memorization of Scripture without a willingness to apply it and be obedient to it will not keep you from sin. We memorize Bible verses as a method of learning it well enough to obey what is says at all times (Psalm 119:9-11).
Let me expand on this principle a little because we also face temptations. (See also: The Temptation Jesus, Part 2). The source of those temptations may be the devil, the world or ourselves, but regardless of the source, we must handle them the same way for all temptation will have two common elements. First, they will contain some slander against God. The devil will deliberately slander God. The world usually slanders out of ignorance because of the false philosophies they hold, but there are those that are pawns of Satan that will deliberately slander. Self generated temptation is usually out of ignorance or self-deception. We find ways to try and justify doing what we want. The second common element to all temptation is that it will be an enticement to your lusts, your strong desires. Our lusts occur in three broad categories: desires of the flesh, desires of the eyes and pride.
Slander against God and what He has said seeks to deceive us from the truth so that we will respond to the lies being given to us or that we would like to believe. The devil did this in his temptation of Eve (See: Sin & Its Consequences – Genesis 3). Satan slandered God to Eve so that she believed his deception and rejected the truth resulting in sin. Adam had a clear command from God not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but for unstated reasons he chose to reject that command and eat anyway plummeting humanity into sin. We need to learn from their failure in order to stand firm against the lies of the devil, the enticements of the world or the self-deceptions of our own desires.
Do you know the truth well enough that you can stand firm when the lies, enticements and deceptions come? Can you stand strong when your emotions are in confusion and seeking to lead you astray? Or will you waver, sway and fall to the slander that God is not good and does not know what is best so that you must you must take charge of your own life because He has taken away what you want and not given you what you would like.
We have already seen that these slanderous charges against God can be direct or very subtle. Do you know the truth well enough that you can hold them tight even when everything in your life seems to have come apart and you face the full onslaught of lies against God?
Is God still good when your wife is struck down with a terribly painful cancer and you know in a coupe of months you will be left alone to raise your small children? Does God still know what He is doing when your walk into the nursery and find your three month old daughter has died of SIDS? Is God faithful to you when you suffer because of the lies and slander of others who destroy your reputation, separate you from those you thought were friends, and cause economic hardship because you also lose your job?
A prime tool of attack by Satan is to get us to ask all those “why?” questions. His effort is to move us away from trusting the Lord by bringing into our minds doubts about the Lord’s goodness, love, mercy and grace, as well as His sovereignty, and wisdom. These are not the comparatively benign temptations to pursue the pleasure of gain, but the gut wrenching temptations to move away from God because we are hurt and afraid. This can be when my faith is put to its greatest test and I stretch to hold onto the unchanging truths of the Word of God in the midst of extreme emotional turmoil. This is when sorrow can swallow me up in its darkness and I need the light of God’s Word in order to see my way out. I have faced times like that and perhaps you have too.
How do you deal with such testing and temptation? You must do it the same way that Jesus did. You hold tight to what you know is true and walk in obedience to it.
Why is there death? Sin has corrupted the world, and that not only includes our spiritual nature, but our ability to function physically as well. Death is an enemy, but it is an enemy that has been conquered by Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15).
Is God good? Yes! In Luke 18:19 Jesus said that only God is good. Goodness itself stems from and is defined by God.
Is God merciful? Yes! Lamentations 3:23 says His mercies are new every morning – great is Thy faithfulness. Jeremiah said that even while looking over the ruins of Jerusalem.
Is God kind? – Yes! The Psalms tells us that His lovingkindness endures forever. (Ps 136)
Does God care? Yes! He knows you intimately searching your hearts (Rom 8:27) and knows the hairs of your head (Mt 10:30). He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3). He shares our sorrows (Isaiah 63:9)
Is God fair? In one sense, no, for if He were fair we would all die immediately and be sent to hell. Instead, God is merciful and gracious. In another sense, God is fair, for though we do not always understand His ways, He is righteous and just in all His judgements (Rev 15:3; 16:5).
Is God sovereign? Yes! He is so powerful that He can work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called to His purpose (Romans 8:28). That even includes when we sin or others sin against us. God can still bring good out of it.
These are truths from the Word of God we can stand firm upon regardless of how severe the test or deceptive the enticement to depart from godliness. Even when we feel we are being overwhelmed, we can come back to the truth of 1 Corinthians 10:13 that, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” James 1:3 tells us that the testing of our faith leads to endurance and maturity. We become stronger as our faith is tested by the trials and tribulations of life, and that is regardless of the source of temptation.
Jesus was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). We must learn to overcome temptation the same way that He did by believing and obeying God in all circumstances regardless of what lies, deceptions and enticements may come against us. God always provides a way to endure or escape. And when we do fail, instead of becoming despondent, we learn to overcome by repentance, confession and rejoicing in both the forgiveness we receive from Jesus Christ and the promise that God is still at work conforming us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). As Paul said in Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Sermon Study Sheets
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2) Count how many times “baptism” and “temptation” are used in the sermon. Talk with your parents about the importance of baptism and how to overcome temptation.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Give some reasons why Jesus is the only one that has or ever could fulfill the prophecies concerning the coming of the promised Messiah? What did the angel tell Zacharias about manner and purpose of life for his son John? What was John’s family and prophetic relationship to Jesus? Why did John call on the people to repent? What was the significance of his baptism of repentance? Why did John try to prevent Jesus from being baptized by him? How did Jesus’ baptism fulfill righteousness? What are some of the religious and secular ordinances that Jesus submitted to even though they did not actually apply to Him? What is the relationship between Jesus’ baptism and the Levitical laws of cleansing? What was Jesus’ baptism symbolic of? Why did the Holy Spirit come upon Jesus? How did this fulfill prophecy? How doe Christian baptism differ from either John’s baptism of repentance and Jesus’ baptism? What similarity does it have? What is the purpose of Christian baptism? What does it symbolize? What does “devil” mean? The devil tempted Jesus three times. Describe the enticement, the slander against God, and the temptation in each one. Explain how Jesus’ answer enabled Him to overcome each temptation? Why is memorizing Scripture not enough to overcome temptation? Why then is it important to memorize Scripture? What is God’s promise to you concerning temptation (1 Cor. 10:13)? What is your responsibility and what is God’s responsibility in your overcoming temptation? What are some of the ways the devil moves us away from trusting God? How have you seen this in your own life? How can you overcome your doubts about God and wisdom of obeying Him in all circumstances?
Sermon Notes – 1/20/2008 A.M.
The Baptism & Temptation of The Messiah – Matthew 3 & 4 & Selected
Only ____________ has or ever could fulfill al the prophecies about the arrival of the Messiah
Isaiah 40:3-5 predicts the coming of a _________ before the Messiah
This prophecy and Malachi 4:6 were fulfilled by ____________________
Repentance is a change of mind resulting in a change of __________ (will) and ____________
John’s Baptism of repentance was a an outward sign of their ______________change
_______ tried to prevent Jesus from being baptized saying he needed to be baptized by Him
John recognized that Jesus was __________ and therefore without need of a baptism of repentance
Jesus has always been ___________ and did not gain it at His baptism
Jesus wanted to be baptized in order to fulfill _____________
Jesus __________ to divinely approved religious and secular ordinances regardless of personal application.
Levitical law required ___________ of clean things that had touched unclean things.
Jesus’ baptism also signified the beginning of His ______________
Isaiah 61:1 was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus to __________ and strengthen Him for ministry
Christian baptism is _____________ with Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
Christian Baptism is ______________ of our dying to our old sinful self and being raised in newness of life
The Holy Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness to be _______________ by the devil (Matthew 4:1)
This did not happen by chance, fate or bad luck, nor was it something arranged by the ______________
The ___________ is a real being. diaboloV / diabolos means “slanderer.”
The _____________ Jesus will face are real (Hebrews 4:15)
The temptations come when Jesus is in a ___________ condition
Enticement 1: Satisfy your _______________
Slander 1: God is not _____________ for your needs
Temptation 1: ____________ for your own needs instead of relying on God
Answer: ________________ – Man shall not live on bread alone, but on the word of God.
Enticement 2: Satisfy your ________________
Slander 2: God has not honored you as you __________________
Temptation 2: _____________ for yourself by your own means instead of waiting for God’s timing
Answer 2:_____________ “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”
Enticement 3: Satisfy the desire of your _______________
Slander 3: God has ______________ to give you the kingdoms of the world, but I will
Temptation 3: Gain what you want by ________________ Satan instead of God
Answer 3: _____________ “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.”
Jesus defeated the devil by knowing the Scriptures and being _____________ to them.
Temptations contain some __________________ God
Temptations are an enticement to your ___________ – flesh, eyes, or pride
Eve was _______________ by Satan’s slanders against God resulting in her disobedience
Adam ______________ God’s command for unstated reasons and sinned
A primary tool of Satan is to get us to ask the ” “ questions and doubt God’s character & abilities
Overcome temptation by following Jesus’ example: Hold firmly to truth and walk in __________ to it.
God always provides a way to either __________ or ___________ temptation – 1 Corinthians 10:13
He who began a good work in you will __________ it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:6, cf. Rom. 8:29)
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