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Luke 1:1-38
Luke 1:39-80 Luke 2:1-38 Luke 2:39 - 3:17 Luke 3:19-4:23 Luke 4:14-5:11
Luke 5:12-26 Luke 5:27 6:11 Luke 6:12-49 Luke 7:1-23 Luke 7:24-50 Luke 8:1-18
Luke 8:19-40
Luke 8:40-56 Luke 9:1-27 Luke 9:26-50 Luke 9:51 to 10:24 Luke 10:25-42
Luke 11:1-13 Luke 11:14-44 Luke 12:1-21 Luke 12:22-48 Luke 12:49 - 13:17 Luke 13:18-35
Luke 14:7-35 Luke 15:1-10 Luke 15:11-32 Luke 15:24-32 Luke 16:13-31 Luke 17:1-26
Luke 17:26-37 Luke 18:9-27 Luke 18:31-43 Luke 19:1-27 Luke 19:28-48 Luke 20:1-26
Luke 20: 27-47 Luke 21: 5-36 Luke 22: 1-20 Luke 22:21-34 Luke 22: 35-53 Luke 22: 54-71
Luke 23: 13-43 Luke 23: 43-56 Luke 24: 1-35 Luke 24: 36-53    
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Luke 23:13-43

 

“And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people:  and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:  no, nor yet Herod:  for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.  I will therefore chastise him, and release him.  (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)  And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: (who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison).  Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.  But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.  And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done?  I have found no cause of death in him:  I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.  And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified.  And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.  And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.  And they released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.  And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.  And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.  But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.  For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.  Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?  And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.  And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.  Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.  And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.  And the people stood beholding.  And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.  And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, and saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.  And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.  And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds:  but this man hath done nothing amiss.  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

 

“Luke chapter 23.  ‘Lord we continue to settle our hearts before you this evening.  We thank you that we can gather, Lord, and worship you in song, Lord, sing your praises.  Open our hearts, Lord, just to lift Father familiar words in choruses before your throne, Lord, and all the while Lord bearing in our hearts that you not only interpret Lord the words from our lips, but the things that we’re saying in our hearts.  And Father we find so often Lord, that we can easily honor you with our lips but have our hearts somewhere else, far away Lord, as you say sometimes.  Then Lord we sense so often the tide of the world, and the flesh and the devil, Lord, the things that are around us that constantly occupy us and distract us, that our old nature, Father every day finds alluring.  And we lift Father to you this evening the cry of our hearts, Lord, that you would lift Lord our spiritual heads above the clouds of this world, that you would lift us to your presence Lord.  Not just here, but on a daily basis, Lord, that we would be discovering Lord, in you, all that is necessary to be your sons and daughters, your witnesses in these last days.  Lord, all of the strength, all of the power, all of the intimacy, Lord, we need to keep us, Lord.  That by your grace, your goodness, Lord, you’d continue to surround us and lead us.  Lord, weed out our hearts, take those things that are taking up room, Lord, that are not expedient, Lord, anything within my being, Lord, within us, that occupies a place that should rightly be filled, Lord, by part of who you are, Lord.  We pray that you Lord would continue to do that good work, and weed those things out of our being Lord.  And as we have the privilege to study your Word, Father, give to us each our portion, as you fed the multitude with the loaves and fishes, Lord, we pray this evening that you would give to us Lord, from the time of song and now in your Word and fellowship Lord, give each of us our portion, that we’d all be full, Lord, in the ministry of your Spirit, we pray in Jesus name, amen.’

 

Jesus Before Pilate, Goes to the Cross

 

We are in Luke chapter 23, Jesus has been taken from Gethsemane by the soldiers and the priest’s guard to Annas, then to Caiaphas, and then to the Sanhedrin in the morning.  And then to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod Antipas, Pilate desiring to get Jesus off of his hands.  And then from Antipas back to Pilate.  And that is where we are this evening.  Verse 12 says “And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together:  for before they were at enmity between themselves.”  Pilate had sent Jesus to him, and he had examined him and sent him back to Pilate.  “And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people:  and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof you accuse him:  no, nor yet Herod:  for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.” (verses 13-15)  Now of course, the problem is that the Jews cannot execute the death sentence.  So they need to drum up civil charges against Jesus, that he’s starting sedition, saying not to pay taxes to Caesar, that he’s saying he’s the King, and Caesar’s not the king.  And they have to find some civil charge to bring him before the Romans, because they will execute the death sentence.  And they wouldn’t listen if they just brought him on religious charges, you know, he’s committed blasphemy against the God of Israel, Rome could care less.  So, they’re finding some civil charges in all of these things to bring against him.  Pilate is bringing him out before the people [who, by the way, are mostly if not all composed of Temple guards and hirelings, a paid crowd], ‘I don’t find any fault in him,’ taking him back in, questioning him.  Pilate then coming out himself before the people, going back in and talking to Jesus again, sending him to Herod, he’s back again, on and on the situation goes.  John gives us an interesting picture of Herod walking back and forth from Jesus to the crowd.  He says, verse 15, Herod didn’t find anything wrong with him, nothing worthy of death done in him.  “I will therefore chastise him, and release him.” [Pilate said] Possibly pointing to the scourging here, I’m not sure.  “(For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)” Luke writes to us.  “And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.)  Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.” (verses 16-20)  Now Acts 3:13 says that Pilate was determined to let him go.  Again, Pilate’s wife had come to him, said ‘Have nothing to do with this righteous man, I’ve suffered many things of him in a dream this day.’  Pilate when he talked to Jesus, Jesus said to him, ‘My kingdom’s not of this world, or else my servants would fight.’  And then he would say to Pilate, ‘You can’t do anything to me, unless my Father in heaven allows it to take place.’  And Pilate’s got the heebie-jeebies by this point in time.  And he’s trying to get Jesus off of his hands, he’s caught in a political situation because he is a consummate politician, he is there in Judea, which was lousy duty.  He does not like the Jewish people.  When he came in and took over the territory, he had marched up on the Temple Mount with Roman Standards which had images of eagles and men on them, and started a riot on the Temple Mount.  They had to draw their swords and blood was shed.  At another point, not long before this, Pilate had decided he would build an aqueduct that had come to Caesarea by the Sea down also to the area of Jerusalem.  And the Jews found out he had been pilfering the treasuries in the Temple to get the money, just like politicians today, to build the aqueduct, and that started another riot, and the swords were drawn again and there was more bloodshed.  And Pilate is just trying to keep a lid on this Jewish frame of mind until he can get himself out of there and get easy duty somewhere else.  And so now he’s caught with Jesus, he wants to get Jesus off of his hands, but he knows the crowds are screaming, the religious leaders are screaming, he’s trying to find a way out.  So the custom, and Matthew tells us more, was that they would have their choice, they would release a prisoner at that time [i.e. at Passover time].  So there’s this prisoner, Barabbas, that one of the early writers, and I think one of the Latin translations calls Jesus Barabbas, his name was also Joshua, interesting, “bar”, Simon bar Jonah, “bar” means “son of”, Simon son of Jonah, abba means father, his name was Jesus son of the Father, Jesus bar Abbas.  So it’s a very interesting picture, no doubt, of here is Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Father, one Kingdom, and Jesus bar Abbas, the son of the father of another kingdom, a murderer and a liar from the beginning, Jesus says [referring to Satan’s kingdom].  And it’s so interesting to see these two held up before the crowd, and the world is the same today, rather choosing sin, murderer, sedition, choosing sin and condemning righteousness.  Isn’t the world the same?  We see it all over the news right now.  Pilate desiring to get Jesus off his hands, offers to them Barabbas…“(Who for certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.)  Pilate therefore willing”---not only willing, determined---“to release Jesus, spake again to them.  But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.  And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done?  I have found no cause of death in him:  I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.  And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified.”---now in case you don’t know, that’s what you do when you’re not winning the argument, you get louder.  If you’re married, you understand that, it’s a tactic---“…they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified.  And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.”  (verses 19-23)  The voices of the people somehow prevailing, and Pilate caving in.  “And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.  And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.” (verses 24-25)  And remarkable, delivering Jesus to their will. 

 

The Scourging

 

And to put a composite of the Gospels together, and to realize what’s taking place at this point, as Jesus is scourged, for one, with the cat-of-ninetails, with bone and metal and the lector laying that lash on, and he would pull it out, so it would pull pieces of flesh off with it.  And Jesus silent in that, as it says in Isaiah, ‘as a lamb before his shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.’  We can imagine his own pain, we can imagine the tears running down his face [which was beaten beyond recognition], we can imagine his lips quivering.  He was both human and divine, but completely human and completely divine, a mystery, but bearing the real physical pain of his flesh being torn off.  Then thrown to the Romans, and those soldiers hated that duty…they were cruel, they lived with crucifixion.  They say sometimes outside of Rome itself, there were literally miles of crosses, people crucified, living five days, four days, thirteen days on record [for one crucifixion] on a cross, being eaten sometimes by jackals, from the feet up being eaten alive, life in Rome.  So it was nothing for them to take him, to beat him.  They played a game called “kill the king” with him.  Over in Israel today, when you go over into the Antonio Fortress, the Herodian stones are there, and there is an etching in the stone that describes a game where they would put a crown of thorns on a prisoner’s head, and then put an old Roman robe around him, and punch him and spit on him, and throw the dice.  And the winner of the game would get to “kill the king.”  But because Jesus was a political prisoner, they didn’t kill him, but they played this game with him.  And it says in Matthew that they spit in his face, the Greek grammar is, ‘they were continually spitting in his face,’ they were continually hitting him, and knocking him down to the cold Herodian stones, which must have been the most soothing thing that he experienced in this entire process.  And somehow, in all of this, a great mystery is taking place.  It tells us in Colossians chapter 1, verses 17 and 18, ‘That it is through him that all things consist.’  John, in his Gospel tell us ‘All things were made through him, there was nothing made that was not made by him.’  He is Creator, but it says not only that, but he is sustainer, that he holds the universe together.  And somehow in a mystery, and I don’t understand it, but I ponder it, I look at it, but somehow, when the Roman’s fists are hitting him in the face, he’s holding their knuckles together.  Somehow as the thorns are going through his brow, he’s holding together the thorns that pierce him.  Somehow as the nails will go through his wrists, he holds together the very substance of the nails that go through his nerve endings.  Somehow we see God in Christ reconciling the world to himself, subjecting himself to his own fallen creation, given over to their will.  And in that, assuming the guilt of the world, assuming the responsibility of his fallen creation, subjecting himself completely to it, and holding it together as it brutalizes him.  There’s a great mystery in it, and all of that for you, and for me, for us.  He was given over, it says “to their will.”  What a terrible scene taking place. 

 

Simon Of Cyrene

 

Verse 26 says, “And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.” (verse 26)  This remarkable scene now.  Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell us about Simon the Cyrenian.  Mark tells us ‘Simon the Cyrenian, coming out of the country, they laid hold on him and forced him, compelled him to bear the cross, the father of Alexander and Rufus.’  Mark, writing that, assuming that the Church [the early church of God at Jerusalem] is familiar with this man’s son.  So this man seemingly familiar to the early New Testament Church, this man Simon from Cyrene.  Acts chapter 2, tells us on the day of Pentecost that there were men there from Cyrene, it mentions that.  It tells us in the third chapter and sixth chapter of the Book of Acts that there was a synagogue in Jerusalem for the Jews from Cyrene, Cyrenians there worshiped in a particular synagogue.  It’s interesting in Acts chapter 13, verse 1, it says, “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers as Barnabas, as Simeon, which is called Niger,” which simply means “black”, “and Lucius of Cyrene.”  So we find these two men, Simeon and Lucius.  Now Simeon is the Hebrew pronunciation of Simon.  When you come to the 14th or 15th chapter of the book of Acts, it tells us about the Jews talking about Simon Peter, and they call him Simeon there.  So, possibly, Simon, he’s there with another Cyrenian on the scene, one of the prophets fasting and praying with Paul, Acts 13.  We have, in the end of Romans, it says, “Salute Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.”  Now it tells us in Mark that Simon, this man from Cyrene, was the father of Alexander and Rufus, taking for granted the Church was familiar with this family.  [Comment:  “Cyrene…a Libyan city in N. Africa W of Egypt from which it was separated by a part of the Libyan Desert.  It was situated some 2,000 feet above the Mediterranean from which it was ten miles distant…Cyrene, originally a Greek colony, was founded by Batus in 603 B.C. …Cyrene is not mentioned in the OT but becomes important in the NT.  A native of Cyrene, Simon by name, was impressed by the Roman soldiers into carrying the cross of Jesus (Luke 23:26)…There was also representatives of this city present in Jerusalem [Diaspora Jews, living in Cyrene, but coming to Jerusalem on the Holy Days] upon the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10).  Its Jewish population warranted a synagogue (Acts 6:9).  Lucias of Cyrene receives mention in Acts 11:19, 20.  Archaeology has shown that it was the Greek plan to make Cyrene the “Athens of Africa.” (The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, p. 192).  Cyrene was in the general vicinity of the shores of eastern Libya, the ruins being in the general vicinity of  one of the towns near Benghazi, Libya.  So this Simon of Cyrene was a Diaspora Jew from Cyrene who was on a Holy Day pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover, Days of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost [Hebrew Shevuot] season.]  So, his picture is held up before us in all three Gospels.  I think there is something for us to see here.  Imagine this man coming from North Africa, from Cyrene to Jerusalem, 800 miles or so.  For many a once-in-a-lifetime trip, those of you who have been to Israel, and for many of you it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip.  Here he comes, and he comes to the Feast of Passover, coming into this incredible scene, when Jerusalem would swell from a normal population of 600,000 to two to three million.  And he’s staying somewhere in the country, because it says about this day in both Mark and Luke, ‘coming out of the countryside into the city.’  And he had come to see the great throngs, hear all of the sounds, to smell the incense and to keep, you know, the Feast.  And here he comes, possibly from the north side, where the Via Delarosa, the way Jesus’ Passion is headed, bearing the cross, maybe it seems Simon is coming from the north side of the city from somewhere in the country.  He comes into this scene, this tumult, and he must have kind of an aggressive personality, I can relate to him, he gets in there and pushes his way up to the front to see what’s going on.  And as he does, the Scripture tells us, that Jesus collapses right in front of him.  That here he had pushed his way in to see what was going on, and here there are two thieves and Christ bearing the cross-beams, that’s what they would bear, the uprights were in place at the place of crucifixion, but they would bear across their back the cross-beams.  And their arms would be tied to them, and this was held across the back of Christ’s raw flesh, that had been opened up from the scourging.  And it says Jesus is so weakened, that he collapses right in front of Simon of Cyrene.  Interestingly, Roman history tells us that they would tie a leather thong around the ankle of the crucifixion victim, and on the way to the place of crucifixion they would pull his legs out from under him.  So you could imagine Jesus and these thieves, smashing down on their faces with their arms tied to these cross-beams, and then they’d get them up.  Rome is cruel as it could be, but a beautiful picture of the high priest, who would go once a year, on the Feast of Atonement, behind the Veil, with a rope around his ankle, in case he died in the presence of the LORD.  Our High Priest in this scene crashes down in front of Simon.  And we’re not told, what did he see?  What did he behold?  I mean, as he looked at Jesus there quivering underneath this cross-beam, too weak to go on, mutilated, beaten it says beyond human recognition, he beard is pulled out of his face.  Does Christ have enough strength to look at Simon?  We’re not told exactly what takes place at that point in time.  But as Simon is there looking at Jesus, either a Roman spear or a Roman sword is laid on his shoulder.  It was called “the Ingarion Right.”  Cyrus of Persia started it.  And in Rome, at this point in time, the law was, if a Roman soldier laid his spear or his sword on your shoulder, you then had to bear the burden that he would give to you one mile.  That’s why Jesus in Matthew chapter 5 says ‘If they tell you to go one mile with them, go two’, and be a witness.  He’s speaking of the Ingarion Right, they all understood.  So here’s Simon from Cyrene, a Jew, come to worship at the Passover, and as he’s standing there looking, probably just shocked by what he’s seeing, a sword or a spear comes on his shoulder, and he looks and they force him now, to get under this cross-beam and lift it himself, and bear it to the place of crucifixion.  What an interesting scene.  And probably if I look at him, he’s probably, if he’s anything like the rest of us, he’s going ‘I can’t believe it!  Once in-a-lifetime trip!?  Why can’t I mind my own business?  Why did I have to push through the crowd?  Why couldn’t I sleep in this morning?  Why didn’t I get up an hour earlier, why didn’t I sleep an hour later?  If you love me LORD, I’ve come all the way from Cyrene to worship, this is what I get?  Now I need to wait till sundown to bathe myself, I’ve got blood on me and I’m ‘unclean’ Levitically, all the way I come here, and this is what I get, this is what I get LORD for serving you?  This is what I get for trying to…’  You can’t relate to any of that, can you? [chuckles]  But you see, remember, Simon never read the chapter.  He had come there to observe the Passover, the killing of the lamb, and the shedding of the blood, the shadow and the type of what was taking place right in front of him, the Feast and the tradition, the ceremony.  And here, rather, he himself is experiencing the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, that every Jew that was celebrating in their clean tradition was longing for [ie the coming of the Messiah].  And laid on his shoulders, right in this moment in time, making him the most important human being on the earth.  [ie, Simon was enabling the crucifixion to go on, without which we would have no Saviour who died to pay for the sins of the world, and our own personal sins, of course.]  Because he was carrying for you and I, that cross-beam to the place of crucifixion, where our sins would be propitiated, would come under the wrath of God.  But he didn’t know.  You see, if you or I had been there, we’d have done it.  Imagine what a privilege that was.  We’d have said, ‘Look out Simon!’, just knock him out of the way with your elbow, and get under there, ‘I’ll do it!’.  And the Romans would have said ‘Who are you?  Hawaiian shirt and all, you look weird.’  We’d have done it, ‘I’ll do it!  I’ll carry that cross!’  And just think what a privilege that would have been, and thought ‘I can do this…’ and just you know, to do that for the Lord, and just to jump right into the scene there.  We’d have done it, wouldn’t we?  What an attachment that would have been on our spiritual resume’.  You know, it’s interesting when go to Israel today, they have a shrine there.  Now if you go to Israel, and you don’t know where you’re going, you’re in trouble, because the Israelis say “God is good business.”  Because people come from all over the world, and they go to these ridiculous places.  Now they have a shrine there right outside of Jerusalem called “the shrine of the stump”, and they say that it’s the tree that the cross was made from.  And you go there and there’s a stump inside there.  There’s all these shrines everywhere.  On the Mount of Ascension there’s the Shrine of Ascension, and there’s footprints in the rock where he blasted off, like when Jesus ascended, he went with such power that his footprints were pressed into the rock.  [These Israeli Jews that put those footprints in that rock were very enterprising J ]  There is a shrine there of the white rock where Mary the mother of Jesus, when she was nursing Jesus as a baby, the Bible doesn’t tell us when she was in Jerusalem doing that, but she’s nursing Jesus, and a drop of milk fell from her breast and hit this rock and turned it white.  So if you’re a mother, you’re nursing, and you’re having trouble having your milk come in, or you’re having trouble nursing your baby, or you’re pregnant, a lot of women come and pray there at the Shrine of the White Rock.  One of the other churches there, of course, they have the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is a debated archeological site, because it’s inside the city and it says “he was crucified outside the gate.”  And there’s the Church of the Crucifixion, and in one of the Churches they sell splinters of the cross.  And you go there, and for a certain amount of money you can buy a splinter from this cross, that Simon of Cyrene has carried [yeah, right!].  One of the problems with that in Europe, I think there’s either two or three Churches of the Cross where you also can buy splinters of the cross…  And about 100 years ago, end of the last century, one scholar said ‘You know you guys are really raking the people over for money, because by now that cross would be long gone, you could build a skyscraper with the amount of splinters you guys have sold over the years.’  So then they [the Catholics] invited the miracle of the multiplication of the cross, and every time they break a splinter off, it grows back again.  [laughter]  Now we know that’s foolish, but we know if we had been in the scene, we’d have picked up the real cross.  We knew the chapter, Simon didn’t know it.  We’d have jumped right in front of him.  And the real cross, a piece of wood, evidently is long gone.  But there’s still plenty of cross to go around.  Well it’s easy to say ‘Well I’d have carried it!  If I was there, you know, I’d have said ‘Simon, don’t worry about it, I’ll carry it, you go to the Temple and celebrate the Passover.’  I’d have carried it.’  Well Jesus says, that whoever wants to follow him should take up their cross, daily.  I say, ‘No, no, not that one Lord, back then, if I was back then, I would have carried the wooden one.’  And the Lord says to me, ‘No, no, it’s still the same cross.’  ‘No, no, back then.’  And the Lord says, ‘No, no, there are people compelling you today to carry things, to bear things you don’t want to bear, and it’s the same.’  It’s not of course in the sense of we’re making propitiation, we’re paying for sin, it’s not in that sense.  But it’s in the sense of laying down our lives for him.  ‘If you loose your life for me and for the Gospel, you’ll find it.  If you seek to save your life you’ll loose it.’  And we can still jump under it for him.  The problem is,  it’s not just a walk from the north end of Jerusalem to the hill.  That wouldn’t be bad.  I’ll just take up my cross Lord for 40 minutes.  No, no, it’s for the rest of our lives, it’s moment by moment.  ‘No, no, not that one.  If I could go back in time travel I’d carry that one.’  Now we don’t know what transaction took place between Jesus and Simon the Cyrene.  Evidently he’s converted through the process, Mark writing “Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus”, know in the early Church.  So something happens from the time that Simon picks up this cross saying ‘I can’t believe I get involved in these things!’  Carrying that cross-beam from there to Golgotha, something’s happening.  We don’t know what happened.  It’s hard for me to believe that somewhere along the way he didn’t hear from the lips of Jesus, ‘Simon, thank you.’ and thought, ‘How’d you know my name?’   It’s hard to believe that somewhere along the way there wasn’t eye-contact with Jesus.  Tradition, Church tradition, says, and it’s only tradition, but it’s beautiful, that as Simon began to bear the beam and the weight of it, that Jesus walking behind him, laid his hand on his shoulder, and from that moment on to Golgotha, he felt nothing of the weight of the beam, all that he felt was the hand of Jesus.  And I like that, because in my best attempts, ‘Lord, I’ll take up my cross daily and follow you’, I find myself faltering and failing, and grunting, and throwing it off here and there, and saying ‘Can’t he carry it for awhile?’  [I love Pastor Joe.]  I think Jesus is the same, and how often he puts his hand on my life and strengthens me, and waits for me to pick it back up again.  What a remarkable day that must have been.  I know this, Simon of Cyrene carried that cross for the rest of his life, he carried it for the rest of his life.  Oh, not the wooden one, but the one that Jesus says to us ‘Take up your cross and follow me daily.’  He carried that one, and he carried it well.  He carried it so well that his sons, Alexander and Rufus, also picked it up and carried it.  He carried it well enough that it was never phony.  And just imagine, imagine in the early Church, people must have said to him ‘What was it like?  You’re the guy that carried the cross for Jesus!’  He must have said, ‘No, I’m the guy that griped all the way to Golgotha, I can’t believe, why me God?  Why does this stuff always happen to me?’  He knew himself.  But whatever happened, whatever transpired, however the transaction took place, this man comes to genuine faith, genuine enough that it’s passed on to the next generation, to his children.  And I think, you know that’s how I want to carry as it were, the cross.  I want to do it well enough so that my kids get infected.  Oh, I’m afraid of my failings, my anger, stupid things I say, dangerous for my kids to ride with me in traffic [chuckles], my failings.  You know, you guys come on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and I get up here and say spiritual stuff for an hour and leave, and you don’t know what to think about me.  They know.  They see me get up in the morning, they hear me growl.  And yet I hope, in my life and in your life, that there’s something real enough to infect people around us.  You know, you can’t give somebody the measles unless you got it.  And you can’t share Jesus Christ with anyone unless it’s real enough in your own life that you’re infectious.  Not just professing, but touching, shining, tasting.  Simon of Cyrene, I’m looking forward to meeting this guy and talking to him. 

 

Jesus Accurately Predicts Jerusalem’s Coming Destruction

 

“And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.”---Now you can imagine this, here’s Simon of Cyrene, under the beam, trying to think ‘Man, I don’t want anyone to see me here, now I’m going to have to go through a ritual of cleansing,’ and here’s all these women wailing, Simon must be thinking ‘Oye, ya, ya, please be quiet,’ everybody’s staring at him, he’s center-stage, under the spotlight---“But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.  For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never gave suck.”---Now that was considered a curse in Israel, to be barren.  Jesus says that the days are coming when they shall say ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bear, and the paps which never gave suck.’---“Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.  For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” (verses 27-31)  Now, Jesus had wept over Jerusalem on Palm Sunday [really on Palm Friday], looked at it and convulsed, wept over it.  He said, ‘If you’d only known things of this thy day the things that belong to your peace,’ and said, ‘Now your house is left unto you desolate, the city would be compassed by armies surrounding it.’  And again, he’s alluding to the same thing.  In 70AD when Titus Vespacian, with the 5th, 7th and I think 10th Roman Legions surrounded the city of Jerusalem, a million and a half Jews were killed.  The siege lasted over a year.  97,000 were carried away as slaves [and those slaves were used to build the Coliseum, paid for by the gold taken out of the Temple treasuries and the gold which had been used in Temple construction].  Before the siege ended, there was plague in the city, and there was cannibalism, and mothers were eating their children.  And Jesus says, ‘The days will come when you’ll say ‘Blessed are the barren, and those that never gave birth, for the breasts that never nursed a child, that’s where the blessing will be’ Jesus said, ‘because if they’ve done this when the tree is green, when there’s life, what will happen when it’s dry, when it’s ready for judgment, to burn, when there’s nothing?’  And again, Jerusalem burned, the Temple burned.  Titus Vespacian, who was not a believer, Josephus says, threw his hands in the air and said “God, don’t lay this to my account,” so terrible was the siege of Jerusalem. 

 

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”

 

It says, “And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.  And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.” (verses 32-33)  Matthew tells us it’s called Golgotha, this is the Aramaic word for a skull.  Calvary is the Greek word for “cranium.”  It was called The Place of the Skull, so if you’re relatives weren’t worried enough about you, you attend Skull Chapel [laughter].  Wait till they find that out.  “When they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right side, and the other on the left.  Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.  And they parted his garment, and cast lots.”  (verses 33-34)  Now an interesting scene.  They come to this place of crucifixion, right outside the Damascus Gate, outside the North Gate, and there is a hill that looks like a skull there.  When the Romans quarried the road around the north end of the city, they dug right through the bedrock that runs up through Mount Zion, through the Temple Mount.  The highest point is Calvary, it’s Golgotha, the place where Abraham offered his son, the very same place where God would offer his son.  And when they quarried that road away, they went through the strata of the bedrock, and as it fell out, two places appeared that look like eyes.  You can look at it today.  It’s deromantasized by the bus stop in front of it.  I mean, you have to smell diesel and hear the bus engines running, but it’s there.  Golgotha, place of crucifixion, of death.  And they come with these three, and what they would do is they would lay them down, and they would nail them to the cross-beam, the nail through the wrists.  When it says Jesus showed them his hands, it’s the Greek word that means “from the fingers to the elbow.”  They would drive the nail six to eight inches, Roman spike, square-cut nail, big head, through the wrists, nailing that man on the ground to the cross-beam.  Then they would lift the cross-beam in place and put it on top of the post, and usually there were holes where wooden pegs were driven in to hold it.  Sometimes it was on a tree, but here the indication is it was that kind of a cross.  And then when he was held up by that, there was a little seat, sometimes on the rear-end, then they took his feet, put the right food usually on top of the left, and drove one long nail through both feet and into the bottom of the post.  So you can imagine this scene with these Roman soldiers, because the Centurion whose in charge will say, after the blackness and the earthquake, ‘Truly, this was the Son of God.’  Because these Romans were professionals, they had done this over and over and over.  And no doubt, these thieves, as they went to hold down an arm, no doubt it took several soldiers to hold that arm down, that thief must have been wrestling, and to drive that first nail through his arm into the wood, and that thief must have  been screaming, and then the other arm.  And by the time they get to the next thief, you know that guy is fighting harder.  That was nothing to the Romans.  But somehow when they come to Christ, he’s like a lamb led to the slaughter.  Somehow when they come to him, no fighting, when he reaches out his arm and lays it down onto the beam.  And the language is interesting here, because it says in verse 33, “when they were come” and then verse 34 says “Then” which is in the grammar relates back to the “when”, “then said Jesus, Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.”  And the grammar was “Then Jesus was saying”, it’s isn’t just once, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.’  What it’s indicating is, as they’re nailing him to the cross, instead of fighting, he’s saying over and over, ‘Father,’ no doubt wincing, but he’s saying ‘Father,’ as they’re nailing him, when?---then---as they’re nailing him, he is saying aloud, ‘Father, forgive them…’  As the other guys were screaming and wrestling, here’s Jesus without a fight, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  And I know those Roman soldiers had never experienced anything like that before in all their duty.  And that Centurion was watching.  And the one thief who would soften in this process was listening.  That prayer, by the way, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”, reached all the way down through the ages to us, to this building this evening.  It’s still effectual, it’s still effectual.  I remember before I came to Christ, I had no idea what life was about.  I had no idea I was sinning against him.  All I knew was I was getting what I could for myself, of pleasure, or of alcohol or drugs, inebriation, just enjoyed being stoned.  Isn’t that sad when that’s the best thing you can find in this world?  And I didn’t know.  I had no idea of his holiness or of his love, or the price that he had paid for me.  I had no idea that when the Roman soldiers went to wrestle with him that he quietly laid his arm down on that beam because he loved me.  I had no idea of those things.  And I know that when he said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”, he was not only praying for those soldiers, not only praying, as it says in the Book of Acts God had winked at the ignorance of the Jews in time past, but he was praying for us, and praying for everyone in this room this evening. 

 

What Is Going On Behind The Scenes During the Crucifixion?

 

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.  And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” (verse 34)  They stripped him naked.  “And the people stood beholding.  And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.” (verses 34-35)  So notice they know his message, notice they know what he had been preaching and saying.  “He saved others, let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.”  Now it’s interesting, because it tells us earlier in the Gospel when Satan came to him in the wilderness, when Jesus was weakened, he was hungry, Satan tempting him for 40 days and 40 nights, tempted him there in the wilderness and said ‘If you’re the Son of God,’ or actually in the Greek, ‘Since you’re the Son of God, just turn these stones into bread…Since you’re the Son of God, cast yourself down, make a dramatic entrance, it’s written ‘his angels will bear you up.’  Since you’re the Son of God, just bow down and worship me, I’ll give you all the kingdoms of the world, all glory, you don’t have to go the way of the cross.  Do it my way, I’ll give you the same thing.  It’s all gonna be yours anyway, let me give it to you without the suffering.’  And then it says as Jesus answered him, “that he departed from him for a season.”  I think it’s hard for us to imagine spiritually the dynamics that are taking place at this time.  What is going on in the background?  What kind of spiritual forces are present?  When you read, in fact let me do that, and you can listen, I’m going to Psalm 22.  Which is remarkable, because it was written long before crucifixion in Israel [i.e. crucifixion wasn’t even being used when David was inspired to write this prophecy about the crucifixion of Christ].  “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?  why art thou so far from me, and from the words of my roaring?” Psalm 22 (verse 1), David prophecying of the cross.  “Why art thou so far from helping me?”  Isn’t it interesting, what was going on?  and from the words of my roaring?  O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.  But thou art holy, O thou that inhabit the praises of Israel.  Our fathers trusted in thee:  they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.  They cried unto thee, and were delivered:  they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.  But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.  All they that see me laugh me to scorn:  they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.  But thou art he that took me out of the womb:  thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.  I was cast upon thee from the womb:  thou art my God from my mother’s belly.  Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.” (verses 1-11) And then what is this?  “Many bulls have compassed me:  strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.  They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.  I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint:  my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.” (verses 12-14)  And you just read through this, and you think, what is the scene?  What is going on behind the scene?  Who are “the bulls of Bashan” that are gaping their mouths on him like a roaring lions?  What, you know, is going on at this point in time?  When we consider our study in Deuteronomy, the sixty cities of the giants of Bashan, are these the bulls that were sired by fallen angels that played with things they never should have touched?  Who are these bulls of Bashan that surround Christ on the cross?  [I think they are actually demons, manifesting themselves only to Christ, but not visible to the humans that were there.]  No doubt Satan himself who departed for a season is there.  And we hear in the voice of this taunting, “he saved others, let him save himself”, that was part of the temptation in the wilderness.  It’s hard for us I think, to imagine the dynamics.  In fact, it’s interesting, where it says that Satan departed from him, to a more opportune season, the word there speaks of “when the fruit is more ripe, ready to be harvested.”  And no doubt Satan is seeing Jesus on the cross at this point in time, in his own mind thinking, ‘This is ready for harvest, this is more ripe, you know, the temptation is more pointed and more painful at this point in time.’   “And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, and saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.  And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”  (verses 36-38)  Now normally the person would have that around their neck as the went to the place of crucifixion.  And normally the superscription would have the charge that they were being crucified for.  And here is Jesus going to Golgotha, and with this plaque hanging around his neck “THE IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”  That was his change, written it says, in Latin and in Greek and in Hebrew.  Greek was the language of culture [and business], it was the language of the common people, it was the language of learning.  Latin was the language of government, of power.  And Hebrew was the language of religion.  “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS,” it’s written in every language, and I think there is constant and open testimony today of who he was.  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/1stcoming.htm to see a thorough Biblical study detailing who Jesus was and is.]

 

The Two Thieves Crucified With Jesus, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom”

 

“And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds:  but this man hath done nothing amiss.  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”  (verses 39-43)  So, interesting scene, because Matthew tells us originally, both of these thieves were railing on Christ, they were both casting at his teeth these accusations like the crowd.  Originally both of them are doing this.  Now we get the sense that the one thief, as he heard Jesus Christ say “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”, the one thief, as he is nailed to the cross in agony next to Christ, somehow hears Christ say to John, “Behold, thy mother.  Woman, behold thy son”, hears Jesus taking care of his mother, from the cross.  [Comment:  And John would do that, safely taking her out of harms way in advance of the coming of 70AD and the destruction of Jerusalem, moving her and himself up to Ephesus in Asia Minor, where she could live out her life in peace and safety.]  He hears the sayings of Christ on the cross, he’s listening.  ‘How is this man,’ as he looks over, ‘beaten beyond human recognition, doesn’t even look like a human being, in all of his agony and scourging, caring for others?  How is it that he’s up there saying the things that he’s saying?’  And somehow, this man’s heart begins to turn towards Christ.  And he says, “Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?”  Great question.  We are all gonna die.  ‘Don’t you have any fear of God?’  We are all facing our mortality here.  We’re all going to die.  You know, the Bible says the fear of the Lord is clean, that it instructs us.  Not fear like torment, but the awe.  The fear of the Lord is a good thing.  Here is this guy coming to that place where his heart is realizing ‘We’re gonna die, we’re all in the same condemnation.’  And verse 41 is his confession, “We indeed justly…”  You see, this man is owning his sin.  I think we all have to understand, you know, the Bible says that death has come to the human race through sin, every human being in this room is going to die.  We look at the terrible things that go on in the world, we look at the wars going on in different parts of the world, and we need to remember that war doesn’t increase death, death is total in every generation, it’s 100 percent in every generation.  It may happen sooner, it may happen later, but death is total in every generation.  This guy somehow realizes it, this guy is facing eternity, this guy hanging up there, sensing something in Christ, finally looking at the look in his eye, looking at his tenderness towards his own mother and towards John, somehow in this guy’s heart there’s a transaction, and he says ‘You know, I deserve to be here, but I see something in him, he doesn’t even deserve this, but we deserve it justly.’  He’s confessing his sin.  And that’s what’s necessary for us to approach Christ.  For something to go on in our own hearts, we realize, ‘Hey, I deserve that, but he doesn’t, I deserve to be crucified.  I deserve to die for my sins, but Jesus did not deserve to die, he didn’t deserve to die.’  That’s confession.  We indeed justly, it’s just, it would be just for me to be punished, because I am a sinner.  It would be just for God to punish me, for all of the sin of my life.  Not only that, Jesus says, if you just look on a woman and lust after her, you’ve already committed adultery in your heart, by the Kingdom of God’s standards.  It says if you’re angry with someone, and you want to strike them, you’ve already committed murder in the Kingdom.  That the problem is in the heart.  This guy realizing that, saying, ‘We deserve death, but this man, he’s done nothing wrong.’  “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”  And just imagine, after everything Christ had been through this day, to hear this word.  “Lord”, what a treasure to him, what an encouragement.  It says, ‘He endured the cross, he endured the shame, for the glory that was set before him.’  Imagine him at this time, hearing this word fall from the lips of this thief, from the cross next to him, “Lord”.  That’s amazing.  “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”  The guy is acknowledging continuance, “remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”  How did he know that he even had a kingdom?  I mean, what is taking place here?  This guy is under the conviction of the Holy Spirit in his heart,  “remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”  “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”  Very important, we’ll talk about that next week.  But look at the scene here.  The Bible tells us in Acts chapter 2 that Jesus was crucified by the predetermined counsel and foreknowledge of God.  It says he was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.  So, there’s no mistake that we see three crosses on this hill.  That was always God’s eternal plan.  And here are two men who never did anything good in their lives, both within arms’ length of Christ, both equal distance from him.  One man dies and goes to hell forever, one man dies and goes to heaven.  [Comment:  Within the Body of Christ there are differing views about heaven and hell.  To read about some of these, see: http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm.]  This thief on the cross didn’t make his first Holy Communion, he wasn’t baptized, no catechism, his hands were nailed down, he couldn’t do any penance.  God is giving us a picture that’s so necessary for us to understand.  Here’s  the Saviour of the world, and on either side of him are men that are thieves.  They were thieves, no doubt they were immoral, imagine what the rest of their lives were like.  The commentary was they were thieves, they were robbers, they were drunkards, they were no-good.  They had no righteousness in and of themselves.  And this man, with his hands nailed down, at the end of his life, after living a life as a sinner, in his heart, unable to move his hands---it says if a man believes in his heart, and confesses with his lips, he will be saved---he looks to Jesus, and he said ‘I deserve, I’m a sinner, I deserve this.  But you, but you…’  You know, I hope this evening if you don’t know Christ personally, as we were talking about the fact that when they spit in his face and they beat him beyond human recognition, the ripped the skin off his back, and when they put his arms down on the cross he didn’t fight, I hope something in you is saying, ‘I deserve, but him, you know, he was, he healed people, he opened the eyes of the blind, he fed the hungry, he loved the children, he forgave the sinners.’  Jesus would say, ‘For which one of the things that I did are you treating me this way?’  But what this guy does, is he takes away all of our excuses.  There isn’t anybody in this room that can give a reason why they can’t come to Jesus Christ.  Because this guy, shortly before this, was cursing Jesus.  You might say, ‘Oh, I renounced God.’  This guy was cursing Jesus, casting aspersions at him, making fun of him.  And somehow, in his heart, he looks at Jesus, and he says ‘Lord,’ and he doesn’t know the “sinner’s prayer.”  Imagine that.  ‘Remember me, I deserve it, I’m a sinner, but Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus doesn’t say, ‘Ain’t you the guy that was just giving me a hard time about two hours ago?’  No.  ‘You want to come into MY kingdom?  You were a thief!  You good for nuthin’, what am I going to do with you, put your picture in the Post Office, what do you mean you want to come into my kingdom?’  ‘Verily, truly, I say unto you today, you’re going to be with me in paradise.’  That’s all that’s required, you know.  And I know, look, some of us worry about our relatives sometimes, ‘Well, they didn’t come to Calvary, they didn’t sing Calvary songs, can they still go to heaven?  They didn’t know the sinner’s prayer.’  Well, the way I see this, if on their deathbed, in their heart, they realize, ‘I’m a sinner.’  And they look to him, and in the language of the heart, saying ‘Lord, have mercy on me, remember me in your kingdom.’  He who is the same yesterday, today and forever can say to them ‘Today, you will be with me in paradise.’ One of the folks that comes to church once in a while, was a nominal Christian, not a believer, raised in denomination, was in a bad automobile accident.  Went to the trauma unit, laying in Emergency, half bled out, coma, couldn’t move.  He said “I was aware of everything around me, was half-dead, I couldn’t move.  I heard the doctor say to my wife, ‘He’s not gonna make it.’’  And he said, “I cried out to the Lord.”  I thought, ‘this is real, life is so short.’  And he said, “I cried out to the Lord, no with my mouth, just with my heart.”  And he said, “I felt myself be born-again, laying on that table.”  He said, “I felt the Spirit of Christ come into my heart.”  And he said, “The first thing I thought was ‘whose going to tell my brothers, this is all real.”  Now obviously he lived, because he told me the story.  [laughter]  But he said to me, “Whenever you have a relative or a friend that’s in a heart-lung machine, they’re in a hospital, they can’t move, they’re in a coma, they’re unconscious, don’t be afraid to talk to them, they can hear everything you’re saying.”  And you have a captive audience then.  I had an uncle, who had been unconscious for two days, nothing, and I went in and I talked to him, and I said what I needed to say, and I said “I love you.  You know, we did not get to spend a lot of time together, and our lives were vastly different, and I know for years you thought I was a mental case, the way I lived, what I did.”  But I said, “I know you can hear me now.”  And I said, “I want you to pray this prayer with me.”  And I just quietly prayed the sinner’s prayer, slowly, so that I knew in his heart he could say it behind me.  And I said, “If you prayed that prayer, you don’t have to be afraid, you can go now.”  And he came to the surface, and he went ‘Uhhhh…’ for the first time in two days, he came to the surface.  Within an hour he was gone.  I want to encourage you, with your friends and relatives, how it’s so simple, the Bible says they have to believe.  They don’t have to sing Calvary Chapel songs.  Some of them who have grown up in denominations are going to be Biblically illiterate.  You realize, for the first 1400 years nobody had a Bible.  What they have to do is come to Jesus in sincerity and ask forgiveness, ask his Lordship, ask that they be remembered in his kingdom.  It’s so simple, but honest it has to be. [Comment:  A lot of people have come to Christ and received God’s indwelling Holy Spirit by way of baptism without ever repeating a “sinner’s prayer”, which is a fairly new ‘evangelical’ thing, and way of coming to Christ.  God will not be put in one of our doctrinal boxes over things like this.  see: http://www.unityinchrist.com/baptism/What%20is%20Baptism.htm.]  If you’re hear this evening and you don’t know Christ, I’m going to have the musicians come…[transcript of a connective expository sermon given on Luke 23:13-43 by Pastor Joe Focht of Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]   

 

 

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