John 13:6-11 - Jesus Washes the Disciples Feet

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*As one reads through the Gospel of John, the shadow of the cross grows longer and darker until now the reader stands at the foot of the cross on the evening before the Crucifixion.  In just a few short hours (somewhere between 15 –24 hours) our Lord would be suspended between the sky and earth as the sin-bearer of mankind:

"And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him" (John 19:17-18)

Before the sun set again he would breath His last tortured breath: 

"Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’” Having said this, He breathed His last." (Luke 23:44-46)

Chapters 13-17 record what we have come to know as the Upper Room Discourse.  In these five chapters we see intimate teaching about Service, Love, the Holy Spirit, Heaven, our Union with Christ, and Prayer.

The disciples had spent many a nights with their Lord Jesus Christ, however this night is going to be different from all other nights.  This is a night that is going to change their lives forever.  If you only had a few hours to live and you knew that you did, what would you tell your friends?  What message would you want to pass on to them?  This is one of those nights, a night where Jesus is revealing His heart and giving them a night of intense discipleship.       

Chapter 13 Forms A Break In The Gospel Of John:

a)                   Chapters 1-12 deal with the entire ministry of Jesus Christ, about 31/2 years, whereas, chapters 13, 14, 15, 16, & 17 cover 1 night.  We can even go further than that.

b)                  Because it says in (1:14) “the word became flesh and dwelt among us” that s when He was born, his birth, his incarnation, you could say this: the first 12 chapters of John cover everything from birth almost to death, 12 chapters 33 years, but 5 chapters cover 1 night.  We can go even further than that. 

c)                   John 1:1 says, “ In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.”  So you could say this: Chapters 1-12 deal with everything from eternity past all the way up until the upper room discourse, but 5 chapters deal with one night.        

I.                    The Prerequisite For Royal Service: Washing And Cleansing (v.6-11).

What happened now was critical for every person who claimed to be a follower and a servant of the Lord.  The crucial point is this statement, found in (v.8):

Jesus told Peter “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”  (John 13:8, NASB95)

There is a deeper meaning to what Jesus was doing, a spiritual meaning.  A person has to be washed and cleansed by Jesus...

before he can become a part of Jesus.

before he can serve Jesus.

            Another way to say the same thing is this: before a person can ever serve Christ, he must be a part of Christ.  However, before a person can become a part of Christ, there is a critical prerequisite, an absolute essential: a person must be washed and cleansed by Christ.

A.                 Washing Is Misunderstood (v.6).

1.                  Lord, are you washing my feet (v.6)?

a)                  Peter expressed his disapproval.

(1)                 Knowing the layout of a table and Passover meal, we have reason to believe Peter was seated at the far end of the U-shaped table from Jesus.  Jesus probably came to Peter last.
(2)                 Perhaps Peter thought, “All these guys missed the point by letting Jesus wash their feet.  He wants us to protest, and proclaim that He is too great, and we are too unworthy, to have Him wash our feet!”  So, watch this guys! 

!! B.                Washing Has A Deeper Meaning: Spiritual Cleansing (v.7-8).

1.                  What I’m doing you don’t understand now (v.7a).

a)                  Peter did not understand at first.

(1)                 Most people don’t understand, & even object to the cleansing act of the blood of Jesus, missing the whole purpose of why He even came to this earth:

Remember when the angel told Joseph "Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."  (Matthew 1:20-21)

(2)                 The Spiritual Understanding

Some say it was not till Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came, that the disciples understood.  That is perhaps true.  At Pentecost they began to understand many things they did not understand earlier:

b)                  Before Jesus Was Glorified.

After Jesus cast a demon out of a young boy, and everyone was marveling at the greatness of God, Jesus said, "Let these words sink into your ears (Luke 9:44)…  "The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later” (Mark 9:31)…  But they did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement.”  (Luke 9:44; Mark 9:341-32)

Again, Jesus foretells His death and resurrection saying "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. “ For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again.” But the disciples understood none of these things, and the meaning of this statement was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said." (Luke 18:31-34, NASB95)

                When Christ appeared on the Road to Emmaus and talked with two men, it says,  "But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him… "When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”  (Luke 24:16, 30-32)


c)                  After Jesus Was Glorified.

Remember when Jesus cleansed the temple because they were trading and selling in it, "The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?”  Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”  But He was speaking of the temple of His body.  So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word, which Jesus had spoken."  (John 2:18-22, NASB95)

The Triumphal Entry, Palm Sunday, His disciples did not understand these things at first “but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.”  (John 12:16, NKJV)

When the woman came to the empty tomb the angel said, "He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words."  (Luke 24:6-8, NASB95)

When Jesus warned them of the persecution in the future, He said "These things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them.”  (John 16:4)

!!!!! (1)                 The Practical Significance.

But I believe our Lord is here simply referring to the explanation that he is going to give at the end of his actions (John 13:12, 15, 17; 16:25-30).

(2)                 There are things the Lord does in our life that we don’t understand:

At those times, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”.(James 4:8, NKJV)

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths."  (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV)

Because we are prone to worry about things "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6, NKJV)… casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”  (1 Peter 5:6-7, NKJV)

We often think the worst, but the Lord says "I know the thoughts that I think toward you… thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”  (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NKJV)

The Lord says "‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’”  (Jeremiah 33:3, NKJV)

Often He answers before we pray "It shall come to pass That before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear. “  (Isaiah 65:24, NKJV)

2.                  You will know after this (v.7b).

a)                  Peter did understand after Jesus’ death & resurrection.

(1)                 The Holy Spirit opened his eyes:

Peter wrote about Jesus saying "who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness— by whose stripes you were healed…  "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit," (1 Peter 2:24; 3:18, NKJV)

b)                  The Means of Having Understanding.  The means of understanding are by God’s:

(1)                 Gift                   When God asked told Solomon he would give him anything he wanted, Solomon said "Give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil.  For who is able to judge this great people of Yours…?”  Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart”  (1 Kings 3:9-12, NKJV)
(2)                 Word                The Psalmist said "Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way…  "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  (Psalm 119:104-105, NKJV)
(3)                 Holy Spirit        God, speaking to Moses said “And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship (Ex.31:3)…  Jesus said "The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”  (John 14:26, NKJV)
(4)                 Christ               John said with authority "We know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true.”  (1 John 5:20, NKJV)
(5)                 Faith                "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”  (Hebrews 11:3, NKJV)
(6)                 Reproof            "He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding."  (Proverbs 15:32, NASB95)

c)                  Today there is no excuse for not understanding what Jesus was doing.

(1)                 Titus 3:3-5; Hebrews 9:14; 1Jn1:7

!!! 3.                  You shall never wash my feet (v.8a).

a)                  Peter often spoke impulsively out of ignorance.

(1)                 Wuest: “You shall by no means wash my feet, no, never”
(2)                 Many times Peter spoke out of his ignorance and had to be corrected by Jesus:

Peter opposed Jesus from going to the cross "From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.  Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord!  This shall never happen to You.”  But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”  (Matthew 16:21-23, NASB95)

When Jesus told the disciples that all of them would stumble and fall away "But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away…”  “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.”  All the disciples said the same thing too.”  (Matthew 26:33-35, NASB95)

The writer of Proverbs says "He who has knowledge spares his words…  "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise…  He also says "He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.  (Proverbs 17:27, 10:19; 18:13).

Jesus said "that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.  For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  (Matthew 12:36-37)

This is why we need to be "swift to hear, slow to speak" (James 1:19, NKJV)

4.                  If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me (v.8b)

a)                 One must be cleansed (washed) of his sin to belong to Jesus.

“wash”             in (John 13:5–6, 8, 12, 14) is nipto and means “to wash a part of the body.”
“bathed”          in (John 13:10) is louo and means “to bathe all over.”
(1)                 When a sinner trusts in Christ as Savior, he is “bathed all over”

Paul writing to the Church at Corinth says "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.  But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Paul writes in Titus 3 " according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior." (Titus 3:3-7, NKJV)

John writes in the book of Revelation saying "To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood," (Revelation 1:5, NKJV)

Because of what Jesus has done, God says "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”" (Hebrews 10:17, NKJV)

(2)                 Consecration of the O.T. Priest
(a)                 When the priest was consecrated, he was bathed all over and that experience was never repeated:

God instructed Moses saying "Aaron and his sons you shall bring to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and you shall wash them with water.”  (Exodus 29:4, NKJV)

(b)                However, during his daily ministry, he became defiled; so it was necessary that he wash his hands and feet at the brass laver in the courtyard.  Only then could he enter the holy place and trim the lamps, eat the holy bread, or burn the incense:

Again, Moses is instructed: "You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing.  You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar.  And you shall put water in it, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it.  When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the Lord, they shall wash with water, lest they die. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statute forever to them—to him and his descendants throughout their generations.”" (Exodus 30:18-21; Lev.16:4)

(c)                 By New Testament times, ceremonial washings became almost an end in themselves.

The Pharisees were preoccupied with ritual purifications:  "Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault.  For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders.  When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash.  And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.  Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”  He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.  And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’  For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men— the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”  He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”  (Mark 7:1-9, NKJV)

Jesus exhorted the scribes and Pharisees to “cleanse the inside of the cup and dish” "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee; first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.  Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”  (Matthew 23:25-28, NKJV)

Moral filth cannot be washed away with physical cleansing agents: "For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before Me,” says the Lord God (Jeremiah 2:22)…  "“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.  Cease to do evil, " (Isaiah 1:16, NKJV)

(d)                Wash yourselves, cleanse yourselves?  What does this mean? 

Because of their sin, God said "When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear.  Your hands are full of blood. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, " (Isaiah 1:15-16, NKJV)

Paul writing to the church in Corinth says "Beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”  (2 Corinthians 7:1)

James says "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”  (James 4:8, NKJV)

Jeremiah told his people to deal with their sin "O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, That you may be saved.  How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you?”  (Jeremiah 4:14, NKJV)

"Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?  Or who may stand in His holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully."  (Psalm 24:3-4, NKJV)

Jesus tells us to deal with our sin "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”  (Matthew 5:30)

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me."  (Psalm 51:10)

!! C.                Washing Is Requested (v.9)

1.                  Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head (v.9).

a)                  Peter wanted fellowship with Jesus.  He asked to be cleansed.

(1)                 At first Peter objected to his feet being washed, but if it meant not having fellowship, no companionship, no sense of His presence with Jesus then he said, “wash all of me” I want all the fellowship that I can get. 
(2)                 Lord if it means I’m going to lose you I don’t care about theological arguments, wash every part of me!  Do whatever it takes!  Peter said a similar statement in John 6:

When disciples turned away from following Jesus, he turned to the twelve and said, "Do you also want to go away?”  But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”“  (John 6:67-69, NKJV)

(3)                 Peters Response Came From A Loving Heart. It indicates why Jesus always deals graciously with Peter, as he does with us.  He looks on the heart:
(a)                 Many Christians don't have their doctrines straight.  They say things wrong, but their hearts are right.  They love the Lord, and want very much to have a relationship with him.  That, too, is Peter's desire, which he manifests in these sudden words.

D.                Washing Is Thorough And Permanent (v.10).

1.                  He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet (v.10a).

a)                  Peter was bathed all over, He was completely clean.

(1)                 In the baths at this time, when they came from the baths, as they would come into the house, they have picked up dust on the way and therefore, they would wash just their feet.  But they were completely clean and all they needed was their feet to be washed.  And so Jesus is making an aversion to this.  All you need is your feet.

(2)                 We Are cleansed By the Blood of Christ, that is, His work on the cross:

John makes is very clear in his first epistle saying "This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”  (1 John 1:5-10, NKJV)

(3)                 We Are Cleansed Through The Application Of His Word To Our Lives:

"How can a young man cleanse his way?  By taking heed according to Your word."  (Psalm 119:9, NKJV)

"You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you."  (John 15:3, NKJV)

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word," (Ephesians 5:25-26, NKJV)

(4)                 When We Sin, We Have A Divine Lawyer On Our Side:

God does not want us to sin, however he knows that we will, so John writes "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.  And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world." (1 John 2:1-2, NKJV)

!!!! b)                  Confessing Our Sins (1 John 1:9)

(1)                 Why Must We Seek Forgiveness If We Have Already Been Forgiven?  The answer is that divine forgiveness has two aspects.
(2)                 Judicial forgiveness, God grants as Judge—Judicial forgiveness: 
(a)                 deals with the penalty of our sins.
(b)                was purchased by the atonement Christ rendered on our behalf.
(c)                 frees us from any threat of eternal condemnation.
(d)                 gives us an unshakable standing before the throne of divine judgment.
(e)                 is immediately complete and never needs to be sought again.
(f)                  Regeneration, born again, being renewed by the Spirit, etc. it only occurs once.  Some Christians become confused here.  They think every time sin comes into their lives they must be saved all over again.

(3)                 Parental forgiveness God grants as our Father—Parental forgiveness:
(a)                 deals with sin’s consequences.
(b)                sets things right with a grieving and displeased but loving Father.
(c)                 deals with the state of our sanctification at any given moment and is dispensed from a throne of divine grace ( Heb. 4:16 ).
(d)                As Judge, God is eager to forgive sinners; but as a Father He is equally eager to keep on forgiving and cleansing His children from the defilement of their sin.
(e)                 So the forgiveness Christians are supposed to seek in their daily walk is not pardon from an angry Judge, but mercy from a grieved Father.
(4)                 If you want the sense of Jesus going with you through all of life, learn every day to acknowledge your sinfulness and let him cleanse your feet again.
(a)                 Start out every morning by acknowledging your need for cleansing from the mistakes that you made the previous day.
(b)                Confess, and acknowledge before the Lord, the unkind words and tones you might have used, the wrong attitudes you had, the rebellious disobedience you manifested.
(c)                 Then you are cleansed anew so that you can begin every day with what is of primary value, “the sense of his presence with you and his power at work through you”.  That is what Jesus is talking about.
(d)                This is where the Christian life begins truly to be lived -- when you have the presence of Jesus daily with you.  But this did not apply to Judas.  He had never been born again.  Even though outwardly he appeared to be a disciple, inwardly he was not.

!! E.                 Washing Is Not Automatic Nor By Association (v.11).

1.                  Jesus Knew Who Would Betray Him (v.11).

a)                  You are not all clean (v.11b).

(1)                 Even though Jesus washed Judas’ feet, it did him no good:  

Judas had not been bathed all over.  The writer of Proverbs says “There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes, yet is not washed from his filthiness. “  (Proverbs 30:12)

(2)                 Being washed from our sins doesn’t happen automatically:

You need to receive the finished work of Christ, John said "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”  (John 1:12-13, NKJV)


(3)                 Nor are you washed by being associated with someone, unless it is Christ:

Paul said "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV)

The Lord knows those who are His and those that are not "Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness."  (2 Timothy 2:19, NASB95)

(4)                 Judas had never been cleansed from His sin and was an unbeliever (John 6:64-71).
(5)                 Judas had been with Jesus, working by His side day in and day out for 3 years. He was a professed follower and servant of the Lord, and so far as could be seen, he had no glaring public sin or corrupt habits. Yet, he never allowed Jesus to wash and cleanse him.

I.     Washing And Cleansing (v.6-11).

A.   Washing Is Misunderstood (v.6).

B.   Washing Has A Deeper Meaning: Spiritual Cleansing (v.7-8).

C.   Washing Is Requested (v.9)

D.   Washing Is Thorough And Permanent (v.10).

E.   Washing Is Not Automatic Nor By Association (v.11).

2.                  The Denotation (Meaning) Of Royal Service (v.12-14)

a)                  To Finish the Work (v.12)

b)                  To serve Jesus as Master and Lord (v.13)

c)                  To serve other believers royally, sacrificially, leading them to be washed and cleansed (v.14)

3.                  The Determinant (Reasons) For Royal Service (v.15-17)

a)                  Because of Jesus’ example (v.15)

b)                  Because believers are not as great as the Lord (v.16)

c)                  Because of resulting joy (v.17)

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