Freelance Writing to the Glory of God

Category: Devotionals

True Manna From Heaven Is More Filling

Christ alone is sufficient because Christ alone has been sent by the Father. For many, John chapter six is a difficult text. In it, Jesus says some very difficult things. But, simply because a text is difficult does not mean that it is not clear. When we approach a text of Scripture, we all approach it with a set of traditions and beliefs. It is our responsibility to take those traditions and weigh them against what God has spoken in his Word.

John 6:35-40

English Standard Version

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Only Jesus is enough because he is the only one that God the Father has sent. Christ is sufficient to reveal the Father to us. As the one sent from the Father, he is true spiritual food. He always does the Father’s will – and it is the Father’s will that everyone who believe in him be raised on the last day. It is God alone who accomplishes this. It is not an act of our own strength. The Father’s drawing is always effective to save those for whom it is intended. Jesus is sufficient because he does his Father’s will perfectly.

Jesus does the Father’s will perfectly in the incarnation. In this passage, it is important to take careful notice of what the crowd believes is true of Jesus. The crowd that Jesus was preaching to did not have an issue with necessity of Christ, but the sufficiency of Christ. After Jesus performed the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, the crowd responded by trying to make Jesus king by force. These people clearly understood that Jesus was the king. They even called him “the Prophet who is to come into the world!” The crowd is so persistent that Jesus flees the crowd into the mountains by himself, and once it becomes dark he uses his ability to walk on water to regroup with the disciples. But that doesn’t dissuade these followers of Christ. The crowd notices that Jesus is mysteriously gone and they follow him all the way across the lake in what is probably stormy waters. These were not a group of random pagans. The crowd was a group of people who believe that Jesus was king, that he’s the prophet they were looking for, and that he was powerful enough to do miracles.

The problem, however, was that these people’s faith was not a genuine faith. In verse 26-27 Jesus tells them “. . . you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” They just wanted to have their bellies filled. Rather than focusing on the Messiah himself, they were focused on all the blessings that the Messiah had to offer. They were working for the wrong food.

They thought that eternal life came through Jesus and adherence to God’s commandments. But eternal life comes through Christ alone. While God’s commandments are important, they aren’t the source of eternal life. Rather, “It is the Spirit who gives life” and true food – true justification and peace with God – doesn’t come from Moses but from the Father. These particular Jews understood that Christ was necessary, but they just didn’t understand that he was sufficient. And the reason that they didn’t understand Jesus sufficiency is because they didn’t recognize that Jesus was sent by the Father.

When Jesus claims to have seen the Father the Jews began to grumble. And if Jesus was not God, then it’s sort of understandable why they got upset about this. In Isaiah chapter 6, the prophet Isaiah is transported to the throne room of God where he sees mighty seraphim covering their faces crying out day and night. And when Isaiah sees just this small glimpse of God’s glory he is struck with despair and cries out “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” So it is understandable why they where a little skeptical when this carpenter guy from Nazareth claims that he has seen the Father.

But if he has seen the Father, then there is an exclusivity there. He’s unique in that way. He is the only one who has seen him. And, since he alone has seen the Father, only he can reveal the Father to us. We get this same sort of idea back in John chapter 1 when he says “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”

God the Son humbled himself, not by depriving himself of his divinity but by taking on humanity. Think about how marvelous it is that the holy, good, and just God of the entire universe would not only reveal himself, but take on a created human nature to do so. The simple fact that Jesus came down from heaven should blow us away. Though the crowd understood that Christ was necessary they failed to recognize that he was sufficient. As a result, they were offended when Christ said that he was sent by the Father. We can only have a relationship with the Father through Christ. The God-man is sufficient because he was sent by the Father to reveal himself to us.

Christ is sufficient because he raises all who believe in Him. Verse 40 reads “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Jesus always accomplishes his Fathers will, and the Father’s will is that Christ would always raise everyone who believes in him on the last day. Do not be like the crowd who though seeing, they did not believe. Rather understand that the law has been fulfilled in Christ. He himself is the sign that they were seeking. If you are a believer, you have the hope of a future resurrection because Jesus always accomplishes the Fathers will. Jesus is sufficient because he has been sent by the Father to resurrect all those who believe in him.


When Jesus claimed to be the bread of life, he was claiming that he was authoritative in and of himself, not because of some external standard. The crowd kept asking for a sign while failing to recognize the significance of those signs. They kept pressing “what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you?” They wanted a sign. They wanted Jesus to miraculously provide more bread for them to eat. So Jesus responds to them by saying “I am the bread of life.” It’s as though he is saying, that he himself is the sign that they are seeking.

Their problem was not a lack of evidence. They had just seen the feeding of the five thousand. Their problem was an unbelieving heart. Jesus expresses a similar idea in one of his parables in Luke 16:31 where he says “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” They didn’t want a sign so that they could worship Jesus as God, they just wanted to scrutinize Jesus. To fear Jesus, is the beginning of wisdom.

Do not put your trust in a sign. We should not look to some external thing to put our faith in instead of Christ. I am asking you to look to yourself and ask what is your trust in? Is it in a wonderful emotional experience that the Lord blessed you with once? Praise God for that, but your heart is deceitful. Maybe you’re the kind of person who places their faith in their intellect. But how inscrutable are the Lord’s judgments. However God has blessed you don’t mistake the blessing for God himself. He is the Bread of Life. He is the sign. And if we miss him because we were so focused on what we could get, we will be like those of whom Jesus said “you have seen me and yet do not believe.” So, are you today placing your trust in the person of Jesus Christ? Because, only he is sufficient to raise you from the dead.

If we choose to live with Jesus plus our works, we have robbed the gospel of its value by claiming that Christ is not good enough. These particular Jews thought they had a relationship with the Father through Jesus and obedience. Doctrinally, they had a better understanding of who Jesus was than most other people of their day. They acknowledged that he is king, that he was the Prophet, and that he had miraculous supernatural capabilities. They understood that Jesus was necessary, but they failed to recognize that he was sufficient.

And how easily do we fall in to the same trap. We might not say it out loud, but we think it. “If I could just be humble enough, pure enough, sober enough, spiritual enough, loving enough, contrite enough…” Stop thinking that way! Jesus is enough!

Jesus is sufficient because he has fulfilled the law as the true manna from heaven. The crowd thought that Moses was the source of all this manna. They thought that adherence to the law of Moses would bring them eternal life. But manna doesn’t come from Moses, but from the Father. It’s not that God’s standard has changed in the New Testament. It’s simply that the Law presented a standard that we could never uphold. It is the Father, not Moses, who sends his Son into the world to be our life. Jesus was obedient to the law, and kept it perfectly. Since Jesus has kept the law perfectly, he is righteous enough to be eternal life. Because Christ has obeyed the Father who sent him, Jesus is sufficient to raise all who believe in him.

Manna is temporary and transient, but the Son whom the Father has sent is eternal and unchanging. He is the living bread. Manna certainly was a sign of God’s provision but the problem with it is that everyone who ate it eventually died. Manna doesn’t keep very long. It lasts for a day or two, and then gets filled with maggots. Rather, we worship Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday today and forever. Since Jesus is the living bread, we ought to trust him. So how is your diet going? Are you feasting on Christ, or are you chowing down on a maggot-infested jar of smelly day-old manna? Christ alone is able to give us the spiritual diet that we need, because only he is eternal. By saying ego eimi “I am the bread of life” Jesus asserts his divinity. Christ is sufficient to raise everyone who believes in him because he is living, eternal food.

Christians have hope here. Jesus is not authoritative from some external standard. Jesus himself is the sign. He has fulfilled the law and the prophets and was perfectly obedient to the Father, even to the point of death on a cross. As true, living, everlasting, bread, he did not stay dead. We have a bread who lives. A bread that resurrected, entered into the Holy of Holies and now makes intercession for us. This bread has shown us who the Father is in his Word and in his incarnation, and now this bread is seated at the right hand of God where he declares that the only way for us to have a relationship with the Father is to eat of him. Our living bread is sufficient to save all of those who believe in him.

Christ is sufficient because the Father effectively draws a people unto himself. This passage presents a unified argument. Those whom the Father draws, are those who believe, and those who believe are those whom Christ will raise on the last day. This passage does not present Christ as potential savior, but as an actual savior. Apart from God’s grace none of us would come to him. We cannot have come to God in repentance unless God grants us repentance. Christ is sufficient because he has been given a people whom the father will draw effectively.

We cannot repent unless God grants us repentance. Jesus taught in verse 44 that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” He then repeats himself in verse 65 by again saying “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” Paul recognized that repentance is something that must be granted when he gave instruction for overseers in 2 Timothy 2:24. We cannot come unless it is granted by the Father for us to come.

The context demands that this drawing be effective, and particular. Not everyone is drawn, and everyone who is drawn comes to Christ. Jesus elaborates on what it means to be drawn by the Father in verse 45 when he says “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” Now we can tell from the rest of the passage, especially verses 35 and 36 that Jesus is using coming and believing synonymously. So, anyone who has been taught by God in the way that this passage is talking about will assuredly believe in Christ. Christ is sufficient to raise all of those whom he is given through the Fathers drawing.

Because Christ is sufficient, we can know that he doesn’t draw everyone, but a particular people. Jesus says of those whom are given to him by the Father “I will raise him up on the last day.” Since not everyone comes to the Father and enjoys resurrection unto eternal life on the last day, the Father’s drawing must be a particular drawing. This is because what is presented in this passage is not mere potentiality. It says that Christ “will raise him up on the last day.”

Christ is sufficient because the Father has chosen a particular people for himself and has effectively granted them faith. No one can come to Christ unless the Father draws him. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. All our righteousness is as filthy rags. As Romans 8:8 says “those who are according to the flesh cannot please God.” I think everyone would agree that it is pleasing to God when we believe in him. But the problem is pleasing God is precisely what this text says that we cannot do. Therefore, our salvation is completely dependent upon God’s grace. In verse 63 Jesus says “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.” Knowing that our salvation comes entirely from the act of the sovereign God ought to humble us. We who were dead in our trespasses in sins have been made alive together with Christ. Christ is sufficient because he has effectively redeemed a particular people from their sins.

Jesus is sufficient because he has been sent by the Father to do his will. Christ perfectly did the Father’s will in his incarnation. Though the crowd didn’t see it, Christ the God-man reveals to us who the Father is. Since he alone is sent from the Father, he alone can restore us in a relationship to the Father. Christ is sufficient because he will raise everyone who places their faith in him on the last day. He does so not on the basis of some merit in them, but solely on the basis of what he has accomplished on the cross. We do not look to what is temporary to save us, but we look to Christ, who resurrected and lives forever. He is enough because the Father has given him a particular people, and drawn them unto Christ effectively. He is not merely a potential savior, but an actual savior, and he is now seated at the right hand of God, making intercession for his people by virtue of what he has accomplished on the cross. It is only through Christ that we can have a relationship with the Father. So, dear reader, abide in Christ. Only Jesus is sufficient because only Jesus has been sent by the Father to do his will.

Drop Your Censors

In Numbers 16:1-40 we learn that only those whom God has appointed can serve as his priest. The only way that we can serve as faithful priests of God is if we come through Jesus Christ the only High Priest. Fundamentally a priest was a go-between between God and the people. To understand this we need to understand that there was (and is) a distinction between a priest and the High Priest. Even the priests could not go directly to God. Instead, the priests were required to go through the High Priest who was the only one who could enter into the Most Holy Place where God dwelt. What’s more, even he could only enter in to the Most Holy Place once a year on the Day of Atonement. This system had just been set up by God through Moses, but there was a growing number of people who did not think it was very fair lead by some men named Korah, Dathan and Abiram.

Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men. And they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men. They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?” When Moses heard it, he fell on his face, and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him. Do this: take censers, Korah and all his company; put fire in them and put incense on them before the LORD tomorrow, and the man whom the LORD chooses shall be the holy one. You have gone too far, sons of Levi!”

Korah’s rebellion was based on the premise that he was just as deserving of the priesthood as anyone else in the assembly. Before we start diving into where Korah went wrong, let’s try and understand things from his perspective. In a way, his desire was not entirely a bad thing. He desired to burn incense before the Lord and wanted that incense to be a pleasing aroma to God. So in some capacity, he wanted to please God. Furthermore, the priesthood had just recently been established, so from his perspective it seemed like Aaron and Moses were arbitrarily propping themselves up. After all, the whole congregation was supposed to be set apart and holy to the LORD, not just Moses and Aaron. His desire, even if it was mixed up with a desire for power and a failure to trust God’s promises, actually had some truth to it. The problem was not that Korah wanted a relationship with God. The problem was that he wanted a relationship with God his way.


But, the call of the gospel is that you come through Jesus, or don’t come at all. Korah rightly understood what it says Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. But he failed to understand what Moses would say to us in just the next two verses where he says “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery.”  God’s anointing on an individual, whether to salvation in general or to a specific ministry or gifting, is solely a gift of a God’s grace. Korah did not understand this and thought that he (and the entire assembly) were righteous enough on their own. Moses addresses this attitude by saying to Korah “The one whom he” that is God “chooses he will bring near to him.” Korah failed to understand his need for a mediator and that he needed an external holiness applied to him in order to come to God. Only Jesus Christ is holy, so only those who have his righteousness can serve as his priests.

Like Korah, we demonstrate that we are not holy enough to serve God on our own by our obstinate attitude of dissatisfaction in the grace of God. In addition to failing to recognize his inability to come to God in his own strength, he and his followers had a general spirit of discontentment. Korah was a Levite. More than that, he was a Kohathite and a cousin of Moses. Numbers 3:31 tells us that as a Kohathite and a Levite Korah had the very special task from God to help guard the “ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the vessels of the sanctuary with which the priests minister and the screen.” How often is it that we are given a task to
do, and we respond by saying “that’s not good enough, I want to do this instead.” Christians often talk about finding our “calling.” Our callings are not these enigmatic things. Simply look around you and see how you can serve in your immediate context. What responsibilities, giftings, and opportunities, has he given you today. “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Prov 27:1). Rather, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” (Eph 4:1) We need his calling, otherwise we will never possess the contentment necessary to serve as one of his priests.

Another way that we demonstrate that we are not holy enough to serve God by our own merit is by our constant impatience and distrust in the promises of God. Korah’s followers, Dathan and Abiram, would have surely remembered what God said to Moses in Exodus 3:8 during the burning bush incident. The Lord said “I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” This is a wonderful promise. But, Korah and his followers thought to themselves, “where is this ‘promised land’ Moses? What gives?” Recall what happened and why they had to wander the wilderness for forty years. God brought them to the land and instructed them to take it, but they fled out of cowardice. They saw these large strong men and they felt like grasshoppers in comparison. Dathan and Abiram’s failure to recognize how the congregation had just sinned two chapters ago at Kadesh-Barnea, caused them to fail to trust in God’s promises.


In order to establish who was an authority over the congregation and the priest, God instructed the rebels and Moses to take censers and light them and wait until the next night. A censer was a basin mounted on a pole where you would light incense. After they finished waiting, on the next night God would reveal who he had chosen to serve in the priesthood.

So every man took his censer and put fire in them and laid incense on them and stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting with Moses and Aaron. Then Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation.

And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” And they fell on their faces and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and will you be angry with all the congregation?” And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Say to the congregation, Get away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”

John Calvin is helpful in this passage by pointing out that If they had any sense of the fear of God at all, they would drop their censors in terror. Rather, they acted senselessly against God as if to extinguish the light of the sun with a little smoke. He writes:

John Calvin

Commentary on Harmony of the Law Volume IV

“It is manifest how greatly they were blinded by pride, since, although admonished both by the confidence of Moses and also by the previous examples, they still obstinately go forward. Surely if any spark of the fear of God had remained in them, their censers would straightway have fallen from their hands; but Korah seems to have sought, as it were, deliberately how he might cast aside all fear, and totally bereave himself of his senses. For in the next verse, Moses narrates how ostentatiously he hardened himself in his rebellion, before he should offer the incense; for he gathered the people together to his party, in order that the magnificence of his array might overwhelm the grace of God, which opposed him. Herein also his senselessness is clearly seen, when he seeks to fortify himself against God by the favour of the mob, as if he had desired to extinguish the light of the sun by interposing a little smoke.”

We must not make the same mistake that they did. It is of men such as these that the Lord says “Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; Their foot shall slip in due time; For the day of their calamity is at hand” (Deut 32:35; NKJV). These men underestimated how seriously God takes his holiness and incurred his wrath. Listen to the reign of the Lord’s anointed in Psalm 2 “Why do the nations rage \ and the peoples plot in vain? \The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, \against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, \“Let us burst their bonds apart \ and cast away their cords from us.””  Those who have been chosen by God to serve as his priests must humble themselves before the Lord. 


By the way, “those who are called to serve as priests” is not restricted to people who are called to special ministry work like the pastorate or the mission field. While there the desire to go into ministry is a noble one, it’s not what makes you a priest. What makes an individual a “go-between” between the world and God is not their occupation, but whether or not they are in Christ. Meaning, if you are a Christian, you are priest.


So, priests, how are you doing at your job? Are you praying for unbelievers? Being a royal priesthood comes with responsibilities. It is your job to be a go-between for God and the unbelievers in your life. When was the last time you went out and evangelized? How often are you praying for your lost friends and coworkers?

Moses and Aaron modeled what faithful intercession looks like in this passage. The congregation, evidently, shared some guilt by association. But, Moses and Aaron came before the Lord and interceded for them. They fell on their faces and appealed to God’s own character by saying “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and will you be angry with all the congregation?” Abraham prayed a similar thing for Lot when he prayed “Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”


God would have been completely justified to sweep away Lot and his daughters with the city. Likewise, he would have been completely justified to swallow up the entirety of the congregation into his judgment. But he didn’t do that. Spend hours on your knees reminding God of his character imploring him to show mercy on you and on your neighbors. Cast yourself on Christ who is Yahweh, Yahweh, “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation”  Are you being the priest?


The only way you can answer yes to that question is if you have been set apart by God on the basis of what Christ did on the cross. Jesus, the Great High priest, “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25).  Even though Jesus was not descended from Aaron, he is of a greater priesthood, just as Melchizedek was a priest yet was not a descended from Aaron. It was at his baptism that Christ was anointed by the Father who said “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). This was to fulfill what was said in the second Psalm “The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; \ today I have begotten you” (Ps 2:7). Christ is the Lord’s anointed. He is the only one who is able to save us to the uttermost. Any attempt to go around Him is treason.


God hears Moses’ prayer and graciously shows mercy to the congregation and does not judge them with the same judgment that he is about to show the rebels.

So they got away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones. And Moses said, “Hereby you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord. If these men die as all men die, or if they are visited by the fate of all mankind, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the LORD.”

And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. And all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up!” And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men offering the incense.

Moses understood that unless he had been uniquely appointed by God, he had no right to claim the things that he was claiming. But, if he really was sent by God to do all these works, then Korah and his followers and would rightly be judged for blasphemy. God wanted to make it clear to the entire congregation that Moses had been uniquely sent by him. The followers of Korah display their pride by standing outside their tents even after everyone else had fled from them. This is really an incredible prophetic prediction that Moses makes here. He doesn’t just predict that they would be judged in general, but that they would be judged through the earth opening up and swallowing them alive into Sheol. God used this miracle to vindicate Moses as being uniquely appointed by Him for the task of interceding between God and the people.

The rebels became a very clear warning for the rest of the congregation that you were not to go around the high priest. The warning was to be so clear that God told Moses to tell Aaron’s son Eleazar to take the censors, and to shape them into a covering for the altar. It was to be a continual reminder that only a descendant of Aaron was to stand before the altar on that day. Every morning and every evening the high priest was instructed to go into the Holy Place (which was just outside the Most Holy Place) and burn incense on it. And the idea was that the tabernacle, and by extension the people, would always “smell good” to God. But, every time Aaron did this he would see those plates covering the altar and he would be reminded of his people’s need and his own need for an intercessor and how if anyone ever tried to come to God on their own terms, strict judgment would await them.

God is extremely particular with who is allowed to come before him and how he is to be worshiped. So it raises the question, on what basis are you trying to appeal to God. Are you trying to come to God on your own terms? Are you standing at the tent of meeting trying to show God how you are holy without Him? Maybe you have a whole bunch of people on your side that you have fooled. Korah had an entire mob that was willing to go along with him. Maybe you have fooled yourself. “Be sure your sin will find you out”  At the end of the day, God saw his heart. The only way to God is through the High Priest, and no outsider will ever be able
to offer a pleasing aroma on his altar because without faith it is impossible to please God. Jesus understood this principle in John when he tells his disciples “No one can come to the Father except through me”  and earlier when he was preaching to the crowd in John “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him”
Do not perish in the way. Are we trying to, as Calvin put it “extinguish the light of the sun” with a little smoke? Brothers and sisters, we must drop our censers.


“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” There is one calling, one election, and one basis upon which you can stand before God. We, as New Testament Christians, are a royal priesthood and a people for his own possession, and therefore have the unique responsibility of making “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings,” for all people. But, we only do these things because he first loved us. Only Christ can intercede for us, because only Christ has been appointed by the Father to serve as our great High Priest. Since only those who have been appointed by God can serve in his priesthood, we need intercession, and we need to be interceding. Christ, the Only True High Priest can give us the relationship with God we need in order to show who God is like to others.

Union With Christ

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.



The Father deserves all of the glory for what He has accomplished in Christ and the Church. He deserves all of the glory because his love surpasses knowledge. We will worship him forever because he has united Jew and Gentile into one family of Christ. And he is worthy of all praise because Christ and the Spirit now dwell in us through faith. God the Father is worthy of all glory in the church and in Christ Jesus because his love is boundless, he has united the church with one common bond of love, and because the Son and the Spirit now indwell us by faith.

Ephesians 3:14 introduces one of Paul’s many prayers that he offers for the church in the New Testament. This prayer in particular is an intercessory prayer, directed to the Father to whom belongs the glory. But before Paul gets to the prayer, he wants to really make sure we understand something that he calls “the mystery of his will.” In another place he calls it “the mystery of Christ” and in still another place he will call it “the mystery of the gospel.” And Paul does not keep us in suspense as to what this mystery is for too long either. In chapter three verse six he explains that “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel”

The Father deserves all of the glory because he has united Jew and Gentile into one family of faith. This passage is preempted with a recognition that believing Jews and believing Gentiles constitute one single people of God who are united by faith in Christ. God is the prototypical Father, without whom we would have no concept of family.

This prayer begins by a recognition that God is “the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” The words that the ESV translate as “the Father” and “family” actually share the same root – “pater.” Paul is emphasizing that since all family’s have their identity or being in God the Father who upholds them, and since the husband is the head of the household, we should strive to raise up the next generation in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

There is some interpretive difficulty when it says “every family.” While it could technically include things like animals, what Paul seems to be stressing here is that God united Jew and Gentile into one community of faith. By faith, all the nations can say “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD.”  Together, we will praise the LORD and give him all the glory as one family of faith.

This passage is an intercessory prayer. When defining prayer, the Puritan and author of Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan once said “Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to His Word, for the good of the Church, with submission in faith to the will of God”  By praying for one another we guard one another from a multitude of sins.

But this text presents us with a paradox. It challenges us to “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” How is it that we can know that which surpasses knowledge? Are we expected to know the unknowable? One of the primary ways that we know and experience the love of Christ is by loving the saints. Loving the saints is one of the primary means by which we comprehend and experience the love of Christ.

Knowing the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge means that through Christ, his Spirit and the church, we are able to experience a relationship with our Savior that surpasses mere intellectual pursuits. It does not matter how many books you have read, or what podcasts you listen too. What matters is do you know Christ. Verse 17 says “so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith” Now, even though it is important, in this context Paul is not primarily talking about the initial indwelling of Christ at conversion. Remember Paul is praying for Christians. Rather, he is asking us has Christ “settled in” to your hearts?

I remember being a college student with a dorm to myself and, like a typical male college student, not the best at keeping it clean. Especially during the busy season of the semester, my dorm room was an absolute mess. At one point, I had a suitcase in the middle of the floor, trash all over the place, and an unidentifiable odor coming from the garbage can. And, even though it was my dorm, it never really felt like I had settled in. It was still necessary for me to clean my room. It was only after I cleaned my room that I started to feel at home in my dorm. This is the kind of indwelling that Paul has in view here. 


Does Christ feel at home in your heart?


Do you have faith in Christ? Faith may be the meekest of all virtues. Consider the faith of leper who said “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean” and thus found Christ to be a tender and willing savior when he said “I am willing… be clean!”  Or, think about the woman who thought to herself that if she could just touch the hem of the garments of Christ that she might be healed of her affliction. And do not forget what Jesus perceived when she did so – “that power had gone out from him.” In this moment the Holy Spirit strengthened her, so that Christ might dwell in her, through faith. “And… [Jesus] said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

The Spirit strengthens us in our inner being that is in our spirits. “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”  He, by his Spirit is strengthening us. The Lord says in Isaiah 48:10 “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.” He refines us, but not without respect to our weakness. And, he does so for his own name’s sake.

The Father deserves all of the glory because Christ’s love surpasses knowledge. His love is incomprehensible. It is boundless. He, by his gracious love strengthens us by his Spirit to face trials and suffering. God deserves all the glory in Christ because Jesus’ love surpasses understanding, because his Spirit now strengthens us, and because he has given us the church.

When we say that Christ’s love surpasses knowledge we do not mean that there is nothing that we can know about His love. Rather what we mean is that no matter how much we learn about his love there will always be more of his love to discover. Deuteronomy 29:29 says “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever.” There are things about God that He chooses to disclose and share with us, and there are things about Him that only He knows. There are aspects of his love that we will never understand, even into eternity. This is because love is not merely something God has, but who God is. “God is love.”  He is the creator of all things, on heaven and on earth. As the Father of all in heaven and on earth his love is transcendent. He deserves all of the praise and glory because his love surpasses understanding.


So the question becomes, if he can conceal some aspects of his love to us, in what ways does he reveal his love to us? 


As we have already discussed, one way is the church. But let’s also listen to these words from First John “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”  The primary way that God has revealed his love for us is by sending his Son into the world as a propitiation for our sins. Indeed Paul says in our passage “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened”

Now this is vital. Do not miss that tiny little phrase “according to.” In this context “according to” means in proportion to and as a result of. Our strengthening in the Spirit is commensurate with and accomplished by the same power as the “riches of his glory.” And his glories are indeed rich – as are his riches glorious.

There are a couple different way that you could take the phrase “the riches of his glory.” Is this describing glorious riches, as in rich blessings that God bestows upon us that are a direct consequence of his glory? Or, is this saying that God’s glory itself is wondrously rich? Or could it be both somehow? Ephesians chapter one verse seven gives us a pretty big clue even though it uses slightly different terminology. Paul says 


In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” 


He deserves all of the glory because his love that surpasses understanding has purchased for us redemption.

Throughout Ephesians, Paul builds this theme of how glorious God’s grace is. In Ephesians 1 he talks about how we have been adopted to himself according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace. And, in chapter 2 he talks about how it is by grace we have saved. He talks about how believers will have “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” So when Paul, in Ephesians 3:16 says “the riches of his glory” he is not talking about some abstract thing. He is talking about that “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands.”  He is talking about Him in whom “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”

So when we take this together with our text in Ephesians 3:16, it all of a sudden becomes much more apparent what Paul is saying. The same grace that once purchased for us redemption and forgiveness on the cross, now grants to us strength to grow in him and to face trials through the Holy Spirit. It is the same grace that once redeemed us that now sanctifies us and grants us strength to remain faithful in the midst of trials and suffering. God is worthy of all praise and honor because he, once demonstrating his love for us on the cross, continues to show his love for us as he grants us strength in the midst of trials.

Notice that this strength is something that must be granted. Just as it is true that it is “by grace you have been saved.” But do not forget that it is also by grace you are being sanctified. The Lord will be with us as we grow in sanctification and holiness. It is by his grace that we day by day our being renewed.  Ephesians 4:22-24 describes sanctification as a process of putting off the old self which belongs to our former manner of life, and putting on the new self being renewed in the spirit of our minds. It is a free gift of God that cannot be demanded. And, we know that Christ will keep his flock. As Jude 24 says “Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.”

When we consider how the Spirit strengthens us in light of the depths of God’s love we have no reason to be downcast. As David says in the 139th Psalm:

“7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?

   Or where shall I flee from your presence?

8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

   If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

9 If I take the wings of the morning

   and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10 even there your hand shall lead me,

 and your right hand shall hold me.

Because His love is boundless, he will strengthen us in the midst of trials and persecution. We must not lose heart over the sufferings that we endure for the gospel, because these light momentary afflictions are our glory. The same grace that bought for us redemption and forgiveness on the cross, now grants us strength by the Holy Spirit. The riches of his glory are unspeakable.

It was the riches of his glory for him to purchase redemption and forgiveness for us on the cross. It was the riches of his glory that he sweat drops of blood in the garden and told his disciples “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.”  It was the riches of his glory that he was mocked, beaten and executed. Isaiah 53:10 says “It was the will of the LORD to crush him.” It was the riches of his glory to die. And it was the riches of his glory when he defeated death three days later. I could go on. In fact, if all we did in this bible study was gloss what the phrase “the riches of his glory” meant providing a dictionary definition of it, our study would literally never end. His love is massive.

The Father deserves all of the praise honor glory and dominion forever and ever because his love is incomprehensible. This doesn’t mean that he is altogether unknowable, but rather that we can never exhaust the depths of his love or know everything there is to know about how loving he is. Still, he reveals certain things about his character to us through His Son. It is Paul’s prayer that God would grant the church strength in the Spirit according to the riches of his glory. We are dependent upon God’s grace for sanctification just as we are dependent on Him for salvation. He strengthens us by His Spirit to face every form of suffering and temptation. We must therefore be killing sin daily, and be eagerly pursuing Christ.

The Father deserves all of the glory for what he is accomplishing in the church and in Christ because he has brought Jew and Gentile together into one family of faith, Christ and his Spirit now indwell us, and because his love surpasses understanding. He, as the prototypical Father, has united Jew and Gentile into one whole people of God. As one united people of God we should be praying for one another’s benefit and growing up into godly men and women. We must together be rooted and grounded in love so that we can comprehend, through faith with the assistance of the church, the all surpassing love of Christ. By faith, which is a gift of the Spirit, Christ settles in to our hearts and indwells us. He deserves all the glory because his love surpasses knowledge. This does not mean that he is unknowable, but rather that there will always be more of Him to fall in love with. He has strengthened us to face every trial and suffering according to the riches of his glory. And, it is the same grace that once redeemed us on the cross, which will preserve us now through every toil and snare.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Waiting On The Lord In Silence

Psalm 62:

To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.

For God alone my soul waits in silence;

from him comes my salvation.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

How long will all of you attack a man

to batter him,

like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?

They only plan to thrust him down from his high position.

They take pleasure in falsehood.

They bless with their mouths,

but inwardly they curse. Selah

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,

for my hope is from him.

He only is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

On God rests my salvation and my glory;

my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;

pour out your heart before him;

God is a refuge for us. Selah

Those of low estate are but a breath;

those of high estate are a delusion;

in the balances they go up;

they are together lighter than a breath.

Put no trust in extortion;

set no vain hopes on robbery;

if riches increase, set not your heart on them.

Once God has spoken;

twice have I heard this:

that power belongs to God,

and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.

For you will render to a man

according to his work.


Since only the Lord can deliver us from our enemies, we ought to quietly wait on the Lord, just like Jesus did. Very frequently in the Psalms, David describes his experience in terms of “crying out.” In Psalm 130:1 the psalmist opens by saying “Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!” Likewise, Psalm 40 begins with “I waited patiently for the LORD; \ he inclined to me and heard my cry.” And Psalm 61, the psalm that directly precedes our text in this chapter, opens with the fervent plea “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer.” But, here, David doesn’t open his Psalm this way. Instead of crying out to God, he opens the Psalm with a description of how his soul is silenced before the Lord.


According to the Bible Knowledge Commentary verse one could literally be translated “only to God is my soul silence [sic].” So there is sort of a double meaning here. On the one hand David’s soul is silenced because he has peace with God who has delivered him from his enemies. But, his soul is also silenced because he is left absolutely speechless by God’s unspeakable justice and steadfast love. When we consider the awesome love that God has displayed to us in granting us a relationship with himself, we should be absolutely dumbstruck. The phrase “only to God is my soul silence [sic]” means both that God is the only one worthy of a quieted soul, and that he is the only one who is capable of quieting our souls.


Jesus is the perfect model of a quieted soul. This Psalm in particular is titled “A Psalm of David.” The phrase “A Psalm of David” is one that communicates authorship. Now some people claim that that phrase merely means the Psalm was about David. I respectfully disagree. When we read other Psalm titles that say things like a “A Psalm of Asaph” or “Of Solomon” or “…of the Sons of Korah” we generally understand those titles to be communicating authorship. Since most of us understand those titles to be communicating authorship, we should understand it to be communicating authorship when it says “of David” too. Jesus himself understood that the titles were to be interpreted this way when he attributed Davidic authorship to Psalm 110 in Mark 12:36.


But, in addition to these things being written by the individual, I think these Davidic psalms should also be understood as generally representative of the throne and Kingship of David. Since this Psalm gave us a little glimpse into the way King David thought about things, it also gave the people of God a rough idea about how the coming Messiah who would reign on his throne would think. This Psalm functioned as a description of how the Davidic King was to live and what the people were to expect from him. When Jesus came he modeled perfect silent submission to the Father and established “a kingdom that cannot be shaken.”


Since only Christ can protect us from our enemies, we should follow his example of humble quiet submission to the Father. The Psalm says “How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?” These men “esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted… He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” He came down from heaven, not to do his own will, but the will of Him who sent him. And yet “they mocked him, saying “Hail king of the Jews!” These men hated Christ and “they only plan[ed] to thrust him down from his high position.” “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” As enemies of Christ, they took “pleasure in falsehood.” These are the kinds of men Isaiah prophesied when he said “this people draw near with their mouth \ and honor me with their lips, \ while their hearts are far from me”


Jesus modeled for us silence in suffering. This “silence” that the Psalm speaks of is not merely an emptying of ones mind. Rather it is, as John Calvin put it:

The word [silence] implies a meek and submissive endurance of the cross. It expresses the opposite of that heat of spirit which would put us into a posture of resistance to God. The silence intended is, in short, that composed submission of the believer, in the exercise of which he acquiesces in the promises of God, gives place to his word, bows to his sovereignty, and suppresses every inward murmur of dissatisfaction.

John Calvin
John Calvin
Calvin's Commentaries on the Psalms: Chapter 62

Jesus would regularly stow away to pray and be with the Lord. He did not display any resistance towards God, but rather said “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Likewise, we should, as it says in Ephesians “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”


Only God can silence our souls. Psalm 18:31 says “For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?” And again in Isaiah 44:8 it says “Is there a God besides me? \ There is no Rock; I know not any.” The Rock is a hiding place, a source of security, a place of provision and a firm foundation. But there is only one Rock. To him alone belongs power and steadfast love. He promised us that when he said in Isaiah 42 “I am the LORD; that is my name; \ my glory I give to no other, \ nor my praise to carved idols.” What a hope and assurance we can have in that fact. What a glorious resting place. Only God can quiet our souls, because he alone is God.


Since God is the only one to whom belongs all power and authority and steadfast love, he is the only one who can give us lasting and true peace. Because of this, David stakes his reputation on God by saying “On God rests my salvation and my glory.” David again encourages us to lean on Christ in Psalm 20:7 when he says “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” We may endure sufferings in the midst of our faith, but if you are in Christ, he will be faithful to complete the work he began in you. For “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” It is from God Alone that our salvation comes.


Recall what happened at the Exodus. When being pursued by Pharaoh after fleeing from Egypt the Israelite’s found themselves stuck between Pharaoh’s army and an impassible sea. They began to be very afraid for their lives and cried out to the Lord and to Moses saying that it would have been better if they had stayed in Egypt. But Moses said to the people “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”


God is both the source of our salvation, and our salvation itself. Notice this, in verse 1 it says David’s salvation comes from God, and then in verse 6 David writes that God himself is his salvation. Salvation is not just something that God gives, it’s who he is. John 17:3 says “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” So we do not only silently wait for the things that God can do for us, we wait for God himself.


Only Christ can quiet our souls. In John 6 Jesus rebukes the crowd that had followed him across the sea by saying “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” These individuals were not interested in who Jesus was, but in what he had to offer. We also see Jesus rebuke the Pharisees and Sadducee for failing to see what was right in front of them by saying “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” – that is, his resurrection. Jesus Christ is not only the source of our salvation, but he is our salvation itself.


That alone is incredible, and I could just stop there and be content. You simply cannot beat the fact that God himself is our salvation. But remember that this Psalm also teaches that he is the source of our salvation. The fence that is the Christian heart may be beaten on every side. It may endure fiery darts and temptations from the devil that seek to destroy it. But, since Christ is upholding us with His steadfast love, we know that these enemies are but a delusion.


Only Christ’s holiness can leave us in silent faithful awe. When we realize just how huge God is, the things of earth grow strangely dim. He is the one that will defeat His enemies. I love the description that David gives in verse 9. He says that if you were to take a scale, and on one side of the scale have nothing but air, and on the other side of the scale put all of humanity – both the rich and the poor – the entire mass of humanity would float up like a balloon. It says “Those of low estate are but a breath; \ those of high estate are a delusion; \ in the balances they go up; \ they are together lighter than a breath.” All of Christ’s enemies weigh less than nothing. All of the concerns that we have about the culture and where it is headed are a vapor and a striving after the wind. Christ will render to a man according to his work.


And since he will render to a man according to his work “let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” If you want to have peace with God you must place your trust in Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. We must be striving to enter into the Sabbath rest that Christ offers us by trusting in his promises and pouring out our hearts to him. The command to pour out our hearts to God, does not mean to simply loose control of our emotions. Rather, it means that we must open up all of our requests to God, and trust him to provide what we need. It is what we do when we pray “Give us this day our daily bread.” The work that is being discussed in this Psalm is a failure to possess the free gift of faith. If you are trusting in him at all times, and pouring out your heart before him, then you can be sure that he will be a safe and secure refuge.


Power belongs to only Christ. In 1 Chronicles 29, after the Temple had been constructed, when David was nearing the end of his life, he blessed the LORD in the presence of the entire assembly saying:


Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.


David understood that everything that he had was from God. The greatness, the power, the glory, the victory and the majesty all belong to him. Why? Because he made absolutely everything. Even though David was the king, David looked to God and effectively said “I’m not really king, God. You are King. The Kingdom actually belongs to you.” Power belongs not to riches or those of high estate, but only to Christ.


Because only the Lord can be a refuge from our enemies, we ought to quietly wait on the Lord, just as Christ did. As we have discussed, the Sixty Second psalm teaches us that Christ alone is our reward. He is the only one that can deliver us from our enemies. Because he alone is Lord, we should recognize that Jesus is the only way to have peace with God, and be in awe of his justice and steadfast love. God is both the only one worthy of a quiet submissiveness in our souls, and the only one who can produce that kind of faith in the first place. In defining what it looks like for a soul to be silent before the Lord, there is no better example that we can look to, than to the life of Christ. Jesus Christ modeled perfect quiet submission as he was esteemed by us “stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” Yet “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” Christ is placing every enemy as a footstool for his feet, until he delivers the Kingdom over to God. Let us imitate him, by walking in obedient love and give ourselves up for one another. Christ is the only one who can bring our souls true silence. “For he himself is our peace.” Who is a Rock, but Christ? To him belong all glory majesty power and dominion. So whatever enemies come our way, we know he can take it. Recall the hymn How Firm A Foundation based on Isaiah 41 which says:


Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,

for I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee,

and cause thee to stand,

upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.


The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,

I will not, I will not desert to its foes;

that soul, though all hell

should endeavor to shake,


I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake.



When we are presented with Christ’s all surpassing holiness, our jaws should drop. Isaiah 40:15 says “the nations are like a drop from a bucket, \ and are accounted as the dust on the scales” All of our concerns about where the culture is headed are nothing to him. He’s got this. Be sure that a day is coming when he will render to each man according to his work. Christ will win. Our enemies may treat us like a tottering fence, but we will not fall over. He possesses a kingdom that will not be shaken. Let us silently wait on Christ alone – our only refuge from our enemies.

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