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Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category

Day 52: Who Murdered Jesus?

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 22, 2011


Scriptural Nuggets Daily DevotionScriptural Nuggets Daily Devotion

Several years ago, Mel Gibson came out with the movie The Passion of the Christ. A lot of controversy swirled because one could draw a conclusion from the movie that the Jews killed Jesus.

While there is no question from Scripture that the rejection of the Jews was the basis for Jesus murder and that the leaders of the Jews wanted Jesus killed, I propose that they were only a party to the crime.  The actual murder still lives today.

The Romans

The Roman leaders were acting in behalf of the Jewish leadership because the Jews could not, under Roman law, sentence a man to death. Pilate, Herod and company simply placed their stamp of approval on the murder of an innocent man and condemned him to death.

So who killed Jesus?

The Roman guards were the ones who beat and whipped him.  They were the ones who pulled out his beard and crowned his head with thorns. They were the brutes who made him carry his own instrument of death to the top of a dirty hill where they stripped him of his clothes, casting lots for his underwear and  nailing his hands and feet to cross beams of wood to be raised up in order to let the sun beat on his naked, battered and bruised body for six long torturous hours.

The Roman guards watched him breath his last and saw the darkness and earthquakes.  They made sure of his death by thrusting a spear in his side.  So obviously, they are guilty.

But wait…

Didn’t Jesus say from the cross, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing”?

So maybe they aren’t the only ones guilty.

So who murdered Jesus?

Judas

Let’s blame Judas.  If he didn’t betray Jesus to the Jews, maybe Jesus would still be walking the earth today.  That back-stabbing man ate dinner with Jesus just before he sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver… the cost of a slave, and to add insult to injury, he pointed him out to the Jewish leaders with a kiss of friendship.

But wait…

Didn’t Jesus approve Judas’ task by telling him before hand, “What you are going to do, do quickly”.  That really muddies the waters.

So who murdered the perfect man?

His Father

What about God?  I mean, didn’t God send his son to earth to die? How many fathers would do that to their child? Didn’t he love Jesus? Didn’t he care? Couldn’t he have stopped the whole thing? Didn’t Jesus pray for another way and God not answer that prayer?

But wait…

Didn’t Jesus tell us that “I am in the Father and the Father is in me”. Didn’t he tell us that God so LOVED THE WORLD that he gave his son.  Maybe God’s love for the world was so great that he did what he had to do to make a way for the world to return to him. Maybe Jesus meant what he said in that same prayer when he concluded his plea with “nevertheless – not my will, but your will be done.”

So who was it really?

You and Me

What about us? You know… “the world” that God loves so much.

It started with a man named Adam and a command from God that said, “Don’t eat of this one tree, for in the day you eat of it, you will die”.

Adam defied God’s instruction, and Adam’s first sin planted a seed in each and every person ever born in this world that God loved so much.

Every person is doomed to die apart from God because of sin that rules and reigns in the hearts of men.

Sin lived in the Jews that wanted Jesus dead, the Romans that carried out their wishes, and it lives in you and me today.

It is the sin in us that murdered Jesus.  If we had not sinned, Jesus would not have died.  An innocent lamb sent to the slaughter so that by his death, anyone who believes on him won’t have to die apart from God, but can have eternal life with God.

We are all guilty.  We committed the murder of the ages, a crime beyond any every conceived. We all participated in the death of God, and yet… It is by that very death that we are forgiven for the very murder we committed.

It is the only crime that makes things right again in the heart of those that committed it, but only to those that believe on the saving work Jesus death brings to mankind.

Though we are all murderers, the wrath of God was poured out upon his only son so that we could all live in peace and freedom with God.

So yes, we are all guilty, but you can be free of that guilt by accepting what Jesus went through on your behalf. Believe in Jesus, receive the gift of salvation, ask for forgiveness, confess Jesus Christ as the master of your life and you too can be free of the crime of the ages.

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Breaking News Flash! Innocent Man Found Guilty

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 22, 2011


Innocent Man Found Guilty

Judge goes against his own decision

by Jeff Ben Les

In a strange turn of events, the judge in the case against Yeshua, a construction worker and part-time speaker from the middle country, pleaded with the accusers asking, “What did he do that was so wrong?”

It seemed that the judge, Pontius Pilate, couldn’t find any actual charges against Yeshua, so in an attempt to set him free, he pleaded with the Jewish leaders who were yelling and accusing Pilate that if he did not kill Yeshua, he was no friend of the king.

Pilate gave into the rant of the accusers and handed Yeshua over to be executed. Looking at Yeshua, one could tell that he had already been severely beaten and whipped.  His garments were saturated in blood, and he was wearing some sort of head dressing made from what looks like a vine with huge thorns.

When Pilate was asked about the ruling, he grabbed a bowl of water, and in a symbolic act, washed his hands of the whole matter proclaiming, “His blood be on the heads of those that accused him.”

The guards promptly took Yeshua down below the court to the guard house, where rumor has it, they aren’t very kind to the prisoners.

The court was filled with the noise of weeping and wailing, but most of that came from the poor people and some outcasts.

One rather short IRS agent was asked about the matter and he responded, “I was on top of the world, but an outcast to my own people. One day this fellow Jew came to town with a mass of people following him.  His message seemed different than the message I’d heard from the other local teachers. ”

He went on to say, “I couldn’t see everything that was happening, so i climbed a tree… something I hadn’t done for quite some time.”

“He saw me and called out my name… I don’t know how he knew me. He told me that he had to have lunch with me.”

“Me… lunch with me?  I couldn’t believe my ears.  Nobody every wanted to eat with me, especially a Jew.”

“I jumped at the opportunity!  I climbed out of that tree and immediately began pledging the riches that I had acquired in questionable ways back to those I had wronged.”

“He told me that salvation had come to my house.  Me, an outcast tax collector… I just didn’t know what to say.”

“Now they are killing him, and I just don’t get it.  All he ever did was change peoples lives; now what ever will happen to us?  Will God ever forgive us?”

More to come as it unfolds on this increasingly bleak day.

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Breaking News Flash! Man Arrested Last Night Goes on Trial this Morning

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 22, 2011


Man Arrested in Garden Gets Planted in Court

by Jeff Ben Les, AP

At about six this morning, just before sunrise, Israel Daylight Time, a ruckus broke out in the halls of local leaders as they dragged a man before the local procurator. After about an hour of questioning, with no apparent results, the procurator sent the man over to the king’s chambers for further investigation.

After another hour of questions that went without answers, the king, Herod, sent the man back over to the procurator, Pontius Pilate.

Further investigation revealed that the man’s name is Yeshua.  He is from a small hillside town in Galilee from which, reportedly, nothing good comes.

One fisherman, wishing to remain nameless, said, “This man was a good man.  My mother-in-law was sick and he healed her… a blessing I did not ask for.”  When asked if the man knew him personally, he denied it.

Another person said of Yeshua, “I know him. He was always hanging out with the wrong crowd.  He’d eat at the houses of the refuse among us.  I think he was even hanging out with prostitutes and leprous people.  Any man like that should be put on trial.”

In contrast, another man with a big smile on his face just kept saying, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I do not know; one thing I do know… I was blind, but now I see!”

More from the trial as it happens.

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Day 51: Bad Supper

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 20, 2011


Scriptural Nuggets Daily DevotionScriptural Nuggets Daily Devotion

I wouldn’t really call the meal Jesus ate with His disciples the “Last Supper”, because He is going to eat with His bride again at the marriage supper of the Lamb. However, I would say that the supper could have gone better.

It would seem that the only two people that knew it would be Jesus’ last meal on earth was Jesus and Judas.  No one else at the meal was catching Jesus’ hints or straight talk like when he said, “The one I hand this bread to is the one who is going to betray me.”

When the disciple heard Jesus say this and saw Judas leave, they thought he was going out to buy more food. Not exactly detectives in the making.

But one point that can be discerned from the meal is the way Jesus treated Judas.

We can discern from the location of the bowls of charoset, the mixture in which Jesus dipped the bread and handed to Judas, that Judas had to be reclining next to Jesus.  We know that John was on the right side because he was actually leaning against Jesus, so that puts Judas on his left.

These two locations were of great significance to the host.  These are the sought after spots. Remember John and James’ mother asking Jesus, “When you enter your kingdom, allow one of my sons to sit on your right and the other on your left.”

It would seem that at the meal, at least one was sitting in that spot – John.

But you get a sense from Jesus that even though he knows that Judas will betray him, Jesus keeps reaching out. He gave him hints, called him out in front of everyone. He gave Judas every opportunity to stop what was in his heart, but in the end, Judas would not be saved.

Jesus still reaches out to millions upon millions every day.  He holds before them the piece of bread, his body, dipped in the charoset, which represented the mortar the Hebrew slaves used to build in Egypt and the suffering they endured.

Jesus says to them, “I suffered and died for you, do not deny me; let me save you.”

But alas, while a few receive the gift with gladness, millions upon millions would not be saved.

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Happy Good Thursday!

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 2, 2010


When was Jesus crucified?

The question has been asked for centuries.  Like many questions of this type, I don’t believe the day of the week or time really matters that much.  What does matter is that He was crucified on a cross for the sin of the world.  But I do want to throw in my two cents just because.

A Long Time Ago

To be honest, technically speaking, He was actually crucified when the foundations of the world were laid (Revelation 13:8Hebrews 9:26).  The crucifixion was not a last minute idea, but was planned by God even before Adam sinned. Even though this might be the spiritual answer, there was an actual day when Jesus was nailed to a tree, and I believe that it is not the day that we call “Good Friday”.

Good Thursday

I might be in the minority with this idea, but I am not convinced that Friday is the day Jesus was Crucified.  We do know that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week (John 20:1, Luke 24:1, Mark 16:9).  We also are pretty clear that it is first day of the week after passover like this year’s is.

Author’s Note: The way the move Easter around has always bugged me. It should not something based on our calendar but based on the Jewish calendar, and it should be the first Sunday after the 14th of Nisan.

The Jewish day started at sunset and ended at sunset the next day.  When the Jewish leaders wanted to get Jesus off the cross before sunset because that day was a “special sabbath” (John 19:31) , it is easy to jump to the conclusion that this meant that He was crucified on Friday since the Sabbath is Saturday.  However, there are two pieces of the puzzle that makes this case not so open and closed.

Jesus Testimony

Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:40

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth

If you run the numbers from Friday to Sunday morning, the best you can do is 2 days and 2 nights that Jesus would be in the ground.  Either Jesus was wrong, or we got it wrong.

OK, you say, “Jesus was being figurative. ”

God thought you might say this and placed a couple of guys in the Bible that tell us how long it was from Jesus death to the first day of the week.

On the day he was resurrected, Jesus is on a walking trip down the road to Emmaus in Luke 24, Cleopas tells Jesus that it has been three days (vs 21)  since the death.

John 19:31 alluded to the Day of Preparation which was part of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and was regarded as a special Sabbath even though it didn’t have to occur on a “Saturday”, so using that idea to make it Friday is not necessary.

I suppose, in short, I believe Jesus’ words.

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Faith is Knowldge

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 11, 2009


Isaiah 53:11 – After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

An interesting phrase here is “by his knowledge”. Jesus’ work on the cross gives us justification from sin, this means that it is just-as-if-you’d not sinned.  He simultaneously takes on the sin that causes you death. He does this by “his knowledge”. This is the same word for the tree that helped man bring about sin in creation – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Knowledge is not always good. When knowledge becomes a substitute for faith, knowledge closes the door to the hand of God moving in your life.  An example would be allowing the understanding of our physical world to invalidate in our minds the possibilities that Jesus could walk on water or even that if you pray for someone, they could be healed. 

We take an aspirin first before praying for the pain of a headache because we trust in our knowledge of the medicine before the knowledge of God.

Jesus took a step in the knowledge of who He was and what his calling was to complete the journey.  He walked the walk, talked the talk and came through victorious.  

Remember Jesus and Satan’s conversation and how Satan tried to tempt Jesus to try a different, less painful path.  Jesus won that victory because of his knowledge of God and faith in the plan of God.

Jesus knew God, knew who he was, knew his mission, knew the outcome. Knowledge, when put on God, is faith.  Faith is not some esoterical, mystical belief of blind understanding but a knowledge that God’s way is right.

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Two Words: Good Friday

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 10, 2009


These words aren’t very descriptive of the day they represent, but they do reveal the results of that day.

Just to be a little confrontational, I don’t believe that Jesus died on Friday for one reason – Jesus said three days and three nights He’d be in the belly of the earth (Matthew 12:40). Since the day began at sunset the day before, Jesus would have to be buried at least on Thursday before sunset, but I digress.

You could say that Jesus was having a bad day.  He was going through the most brutal torture a man can face though He was completely innocent.

It was also the most important day of his ministry on earth.  He had healed the sick, raised the dead, taught life changing words, but all of this would be in vain if He failed in this one day.

I say this quite a bit, but it bares repeating here, “If Jesus failed in the temptations from Satan, He would have lost relationship with His Father. If Jesus failed to die, we would have lost relationship with the Father.”  This was the most important day since the creation, and Jesus could not fail. However, the path to victory was going to be excruciating.

I find it most amazing that Paul tells his readers that he wanted to “know Jesus in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering” (Philippians 3:10).  This is the only real way we can approach understanding Jesus and what He represents.

The resurrection was a glorious event that shows the power of God.  It reveals his victory over Satan and his triumph over death.  It is where we really want to dwell.  It’s the happy spot.  It’s good, and right, and easy. But if the only relationship you have with Jesus is the feel good message of the resurrection, then you are missing the whole picture and the most important element – fellowship with Christ.

Paul iterates that you need to know him in the “fellowship of his suffering”.  Have you ever noticed that people tend to bond in times of trouble?  Think about it.

  • World Trade Center – America unites, patiotism, etc.
  • Two girls kidnapped in California together form a unique bond that no one else can share in.
  • Death in the family brings family closer.
  • You going through life’s struggles tend to pray more and become more aware of the presence of God in your life.

It’s not that God isn’t in the power of His resurrection, it’s that we don’t listen too well to God when the going is good.  We switch to cruise control and we move God toward the back seat.  Sometimes I wonder if God doesn’t bring about some of our troubles so that we can get to know Him more in the fellowship of suffering.

To close out this point, Paul tells us what to celebrate – Jesus’ death (1 Cor 11:26). We celebrate the death, the cross Christ bore, because it is the hope of our salvation.  The gospel message is defined in the Bible simply as Jesus died, was buried and rose again.  (1 Cor 15:1-5).  Paul understood, probably better than most the fellowship of Jesus suffering.  Remember that his call from Jesus was this, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:16)  How would you like that call?

The truth is that we are all called to know him in the fellowship of His suffering.  This is the only way to really know the heart of God.  If you want to have a “good Friday”, get to know the Savior who died for you through the fellowship of his suffering for you.

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Jesus Got Rewards Too

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 10, 2009


Isaiah 53:10 – Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

John 3:36 says that God’s wrath is aimed right at each and every one of us and only when we receive Jesus is that wrath redirected.  God poured out his wrath on His son so that anyone who received Jesus could avoid His wrath directly. God had to crush Jesus or he would have to crush us. Kind of a scary thought if you dwell on it.

Notice though that Jesus got a reward too – offspring.  Now I wonder who that might be???

We are the children of God because of the work of Christ on the Cross.  In addition, His days are prolonged.  Actually, that is a bit of an understatement. He will rule and reign forever (Luke 1:33).

But the really cool part is that the will of God will proposer in his hand.  I find that the Bible is more and more amazing each time I open it.  Read the book of Revelation.  Who is worthy to “open” the scroll?  Jesus.  What is in the Scroll? The will of God unleashed on earth.

The very hands that touched blind eyes, that took the pain of spikes on a cross, that fed a demoralized group of disciples after his resurrection and that held the scrolls of the end times judgement also sets those events into motion.

But Jesus didn’t get to this point overnight as it were; he had to endure humiliation (Philippians 2) and death like a common criminal on a Roman torture device to reap the rewards he received. 

Just to wrap up a great thing, part of that reward is you. Jesus gets you if you receive what he has done for you on the cross.  You are his prize, and he is yours.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.

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Judas: a lesson in getting it wrong

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 9, 2009


I think that there are very few people in the Bible as misunderstood as Judas.  Do you think that Judas was evil from the outset, or do you think that he just snapped one day and decided to betray Jesus.  Whatever you believe about Judas, there are some lessons and hopefully some illumination for you in this post.

Judas was hand picked by Jesus as a disciple.  Not much is known about Judas except his father, Simon.

Usually, when a name of somebody in a story  is specifically called out in the gospels, you have to consider the fact that the reader will probably know the person.  For example, when Simon of Cyrene picks up the cross from Jesus, the gospel writer points out that his children are Rufus and Alexander (Mark 15:21).  Why is this important unless the reader can make the connection due to the fact that they know Rufus and Alexander (Romans 16:13?).

With this thought, Simon Iscariot is probably a believer at the time John writes the gospel.  What a sad father he must have been having a son that would go down in history as the one who betrayed the Messiah. 

There were basically two schools of thought in Jesus day concerning the Messiah.  First, he was going to come as a conquering king to overthrow the bad Romans and take up the throne of David. Second, was what Jesus was saying, “I am the Messiah, and I am here to die.”

The first one made more sense to the Jew; Jesus’ plan on the other hand had a flavor of failure in it which did not appeal to the masses.  Judas could have followed Jesus from the outset with high hopes of this man being the Messiah that would be king, but like many others in Israel, Judas became disillusioned and didn’t like where Jesus was going with his ministry.  The conquering king can’t die before he conquers; it just doesn’t make sense.

It may seem like a lot to read into Judas’ life, but the fact is that in order for Judas to properly betray Jesus, he had close to Jesus; he had to be one of the inner circle.  Jesus in fact, entrusted him with the money.  Nobody at the time had objections, only afterward did John mention that Judas used to “dip his hand in the money bag” (John 12:6).

Judas probably fought the demons of doubt for a very long time.  Jesus ministered about three years with Judas by his side.  Judas saw miracle not seen in this world since.  Yet, he found room enough in his heart to doubt Jesus to the point of walking away.  But before he’d walk, he had to be compensated for his “waste of time”.

In steps the opportunity.  What made this moment the best moment for him to betray the Messiah?

Jesus had just had the “Triumphal Entry”.  Everybody on Sunday is on the edge of their seat waiting to see Jesus take the throne.  Even the teachers of the law would have liked that.

Jesus throws out the money changers – great, he had a fighting nature. Judas is like many others, excited to see what’s going to happen.  Then just as quickly as it starts, it crashes.  Jesus gets back on the kick of telling everyone that he is going to die.  (John 12) He even has a woman anoint him for burial (Matthew 26).

Nobody believes that Jesus can die. They even ask who this “Son of Man” is when Jesus says that the Son of Man must be lifted up (another word for die) (John 12:34).  They are on cloud nine, but Judas knows.  He slips away, “prompted”, John says, by Satan.

Luke mentions that Satan enters him, (Luke 22:3) but John specifically points out that he is only prompted at this time.  Later though, things change.

First, Judas, prompted by Satan, seeks out the leaders of the Jews to seek compensation for bringing in Jesus.  I don’t know if he seriously knows what would happen to Jesus if he is brought in. Maybe just a few lashes to teach him a lesson.  He may have gotten the hints from Jesus that he was going to die and that turning him into the Jews would be the death sentence. Either way, Judas is listening to the wrong voice.

Later at the last supper, Jesus gives Judas several opportunities to back down.  Matthew 26 and John 13 lay out the discussions at the table.  Jesus comes out plainly and says, “One of you is going to betray me”. What a great opportunity for Judas to back out.  After all, he’s caught!

Jesus then washes Judas’ feet along with the rest of the disciples. This is a humble thing to do, surely he would be moved to change his heart, but alas, he doesn’t.

Next he tells them, the one who will betray me is the one I give this bread too.  Judas replies, “surely not I”.  Jesus tells him, “Yes, it is you”.

Jesus tells him to do it quickly.  A fourth opportunity to turn the mission down, only this time the Bible says that Satan entered him.

He went out and the disciples, being the great detectives they were, wondered what Judas was doing.  Perhaps he was getting more food.

The point to all this is to show that:

  1. Turning your back on Jesus (this is betrayal) doesn’t happen quickly.  It is a slow fade when you give yourself away.
  2. Jesus even reached out to the betrayer at the very last moment. Yes, Judas had to betray, but Jesus didn’t have to make it easy to do so. Judas was actually seated, most likely, to Jesus right – the place of honor. In order to share the bowl, he had to be next to him.  John, we know, is to Jesus left because he is leaning up against him during the meal.
  3. We have to always be careful of the Judas in all of us.  We have to be vigilant and not give in to temptations and listen to the lies about Jesus.  He is the truth, and the truth does not change.

Finally, remember that betrayal always leads to death.  Not just the death of the intended target (Jesus in Judas’ case) but also the death of the betrayer.  Judas died a horrible, sad and lonely death at his own hand. 

Betrayal leaves you empty, lonely and lost.

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Wicked is to Violence as Rich is to Deceit

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 9, 2009


Isaiah 53:9 – He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Strange how this verse categorizes the wicked and the dead. Using a familiar Hebrew poetic structure, it finishes up with the corresponding violence and deceit. Another way of saying it is, “Wicked is to violence as rich is to deceit”.

Another word for deceit is fraud.  Someone who pulls a poncy scheme. In Jesus day (and in some ways today as well), people got rich on the backs of others. They cheated, stole, betrayed and in the end, bribed their way to riches.  One particular practice was using false weight on a scale so that you could receive more than you paid for, a practice the God expressly forbid. The outlook on rich people was pretty bleak.

Jesus once said that it was more difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. (Mat 19:24)

Riches have a way of changing people.  It’s not that the money has any real power, but the love of it is intoxicating (Ecc 5:10, 1 Tim 6:10). You have to be extremely careful around it or it will destroy you like the ring in Lord of the Rings.

We just had an auction here in Indianapolis for an estate of a person that won the lottery.  They lost it all and had hundreds of thousands of dollars of items sold off to pay the debts.  The millions they won were not enough to feed the beast. If you seek riches, you will never be satisfied.

I remember as a teen thinking that if I ever made $25,000 a year, I’d be set for life. Yeah, right.

So when Jesus is buried with the wicked and rich – they were probably one and the same.  

Two things in life are sure – we all die, and we can’t take anything with us when we die except people. 

That burial of Jesus with the wicked is similar to what happens to us when we are confess Jesus as Lord and are baptized into Christ.  We are buried with him in death and raise to new life.  Notice that none of the wicked buried with Jesus rose to life – they were all still dead.

When Jesus saves us, we cross from death to life – from wickedness to righteous. 

As the song says, “I once was lost, but now I’m free.”

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