Need Help? Call Now
The Vanishing Power Of Death

Resurrected Dreams

Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer | April 12, 1998

Selected highlights from this sermon

The pain and disappointment had set in. Two disciples walked away from Jerusalem after Jesus had died thinking that all their hopes had died with Him, but a mysterious stranger met them on the road. Jesus returned with a message, and He reminded them of the promises of Scripture. He would not leave His people.

Christ’s resurrection gives us hope in the midst of our shattered dreams. When we face troubles, we need to remember that Christ has not left us. 

Shattered dreams lie everywhere. Sometimes a dream is shattered because of an accident. Sometimes it is shattered because of a disease. SARS happens to be a disease of the moment. Sometimes it is shattered because of people. We’ve all had our share of disappointments, our feelings of betrayal, or maybe even abuse. And the problem is lying beneath those shattered dreams is another problem. It may be a problem with deep disappointment and even resentment against God.

All you have to do is talk to a skeptic, and the skeptic will tell you why he’s a skeptic. What good is God’s omnipotence, His tremendous power, if that power is not used to make a crooked world straight? Like one woman said to me, “Long ago I’ve given up on God and I’ve given up on prayer. I expected that my daughter, for whom I prayed fervently, would become a missionary. Now she not only hates God, but she also hates me. I don’t want to pray again lest I be disappointed.”

Disappointment with God is not a new phenomenon. As a matter of fact, in the New Testament on the Day of Resurrection early that morning there were two disciples that set out for the town of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were going there because they wanted to forget their disappointment with Jesus. They remembered that some women had gone to the tomb and reported that the tomb was empty, and the stone was rolled away. And there were some angels there at the tomb. But they did not believe the reports of those women who had witnessed that because among the women was Mary Magdalene. She was one out of whom Jesus cast seven demons, and these disciples probably thought that her story was actually an eighth that had not yet been cast out. And so they decided to leave and to forget it all.

But the Bible tells us that a stranger fell in step with them, and they did not know that this stranger was Jesus. And we pick up the story in the 24th chapter of the book of Luke. If you have your Bibles you may turn there. You’ll notice that Jesus began to speak with them, and as they were talking He asks this question. He says, “What is it that you are discussing together as you walk along?” (Luke 24:17) They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them named Cleopas asked Him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem, and do you now know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” Jesus asked. It’s not because Jesus didn’t know obviously, but He wanted them to tell Him.

And now comes the hurt. You’ll notice they said, “About Jesus of Nazareth. He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him, but we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it’s the third day since this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find His body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see.” And that’s where the pain was.

“We hoped that it was He that would deliver Israel. We thought that He was going to be the one to establish the kingdom, to break the yoke of Roman occupation. We are tired of saluting those pagan soldiers. We’re tired of paying taxes and being humiliated. And we thought that the Messiah was going to be one who was going to bring this deliverance, and now we notice that it’s the tragic end of a beautiful life, and it’s all over.” 

These disciples were as if they had lived through an earthquake, so sad that they thought possibly they would never genuinely smile again. You see, it’s not just that they were concerned about the Roman occupation. They felt betrayed. They loved Jesus. They were there when He fed the multitude with a boy’s lunch. And they thought to themselves, “Oh, if only He would be king, think of all the miracles He could work in our behalf.” They believed in Him. As far as they were concerned though He raised expectations that He did not meet, and He gave them dreams which were now shattered at their feet. But Jesus spends two hours with them on the way to Emmaus, and as Jesus speaks and interacts with them, He gives them the answer to their shattered dream, and in the process, He gives us the answer to our shattered dreams as well. 

What does Jesus say to them? The answer to their need comes in two parts. First of all, He says, “Disciples, you should have known and you should have believed the promises of Scripture.” You’ll notice it says, “How foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?” (Luke 24:25). And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.

Don’t you wish that you had been there? Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to run a tape recorder to see what Jesus had to say about Himself? They didn’t know that they were in the presence of the one who was the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies.

I can imagine that He began with the book of Genesis and explained how the Messiah was the seed of the woman, and there would be conflict, and the woman’s seed would crush the head of the serpent. 

Then I can imagine Him going into the book of Exodus and talking about the Passover Lamb, and explaining once again how the Israelites had to kill a lamb and put blood on their door. And those who had blood on their door, the Angel of Death would pass over them, which is where the word Passover comes from, and they would be exempt from God’s judgment, and how the Messiah was now the Lamb of God that took away the sin of the world, and He had to die on a cross. He had to be crucified so that that blood would be shed so that we would be spared from the consequences of our sins.

And then as He went into the book of Leviticus He would have explained that the Messiah was the fulfillment of all of the prophecies regarding the sacrifices and the burnt offerings.

In Numbers, the Messiah is the rock from which water flows, and then I can imagine He gets to the Psalms, Psalm 22, and points out to the disciples, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”, that that description of crucifixion was actually fulfilled just three days before when Messiah was dying on the cross.

And then He got to Isaiah 53. “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.” He died for our sins. And notice Christ’s point. He’s saying to them, “You should have known that first of all, He must suffer and then enter into glory. You’re right about all the prophecies about political deliverance. You’re right about the fact that someday the Law shall go forth from Zion and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. You’re right about that, that great days are coming, but the suffering comes first. The grime comes before the glory, and the cross has to come before the crown. The order is important.”

Today we have television preachers that tell us that we can be healed whenever we want to be, that we can have wealth whenever we want it. And they are right that the Bible talks about these things, but they forget the fact that first of all, in this life we must be willing to suffer. This is a life that is not easy, but the suffering eventually leads to glory. There are some people who want it all right now. They say, “Give it to me now,” and they’re confused regarding the order of how it is to occur. 

And so the Scripture says, “First of all, there is suffering, and then there is glory.” And what Jesus is saying to these disciples whose dreams have been shattered as He speaks to us as well is this. Remember the promises of Scripture and we do not interpret this life simply on the basis of what we see. There’s a life to come. There is glory that lies ahead. We do live in a Good Friday world, to be sure, where there is injustice and cruelty and bloodshed and violence, and we do all that we possibly can to overcome it, but at the end of the day, we know that there is going to be this until this world ends. And in the meantime, we look to the glory that shall be revealed, and it is that that gives us hope. God doesn’t have to answer all of our prayers now to be faithful to His promises.

And so Jesus says to them, “First of all you have to believe in the promises of God.” But you say, “Well, Pastor Lutzer, does that mean all that we can do now is to simply grin and bear it and wait for the future?” No, there’s another part to Jesus Christ’s answer. You’ll notice the Scripture says that, “As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if He were going farther, but they urged Him strongly and said, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening. The day is almost over.’ So He went to stay with them. While He was at the table with them, He took bread and gave thanks and broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared out of their sight.” (Luke 24:28-31).

Wow! What a story. Isn’t it interesting that the one who is invited in… He is invited as a guest… He now becomes the host. The one who is invited to receive is now the one to give. And as He breaks bread they say, “This is Jesus,” very probably because as they saw His hands they saw the nail scars. And they remembered this one is the Messiah. “We are in the presence of the one whom we love. Our dreams weren’t shattered after all.” And then suddenly, boom! Jesus disappears.

You say, “Well, Pastor Lutzer, do you actually believe this story, that Jesus disappeared?” The answer is yes, because, you know, His body was a resurrected body. It had a different molecular structure. He could go through doors. He couldn’t be in two places at one time with that body, but He could travel very quickly from one place to another.

Some of you who are visiting here today may wonder what kind of a place is Moody Church anyway. What do you all believe? You’re wondering, so just to clarify, I wanted you to know we actually believe this stuff here at Moody Church. [applause] We believe in a resurrected Savior who is capable of all kinds of miracles.

And so, Jesus disappears, and the Bible says they say to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked to us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us? That’s why we were so intrigued. That’s why He knew so much. That’s why He was able to get it right.” And then we read, “That very evening they got up and returned once again to Jerusalem.” It didn’t matter whether thieves were along the way. It didn’t matter whether it was dark. It didn’t matter whether they were tired. They’d already walked the seven miles. They had just completed the journey. But you know, there’s something about meeting Jesus that makes you want to go find someone else to tell about Jesus. And as a result of that, they go back. And they’re saying to everyone, “Guess what! The risen Christ appeared to us.” It says that “There they found the eleven, and those with them assembled together saying, ‘It’s true. The Lord has risen and appeared to Simon.’” 

And then the two told what happened on the way and how Jesus was recognized by them when He broke bread. And now notice in Luke 24:36, “While they were still talking about this Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be unto you.’”

If the first answer to shattered dreams is to properly interpret and believe the promises of Scripture, the second is the reminder of the fact that Jesus Christ is with us among His people. He is with His people in body. He is with His people in Spirit, and He says to us today, “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.” Depend upon it. I have not left you alone. I will come to you. In fact, Jesus said, “The reason I’m going to heaven is so that I can give the Holy Spirit of God who will come and indwell the lives of all those who know Christ as Savior. And as a result, you can be assured of my presence. I am with you till the end of the world.”

Let’s boil this down where we are today so we can pick our own shattered dreams up off the floor and understand its relevance to us today. First of all, I want us to realize when Jesus was raised from the dead, in that resurrection He brought every one of our shattered dreams with Him, and He took those shattered dreams, and He will someday give us their fulfillment.

Just like you find that God would not create a fish unless He created water so that the fish would have a place to swim, in the very same way God would not have created these longings for the eternal, these desires. He would not have given those to us unless there was a place where those desires would be fulfilled.

What is your deep desire today? What is your shattered dream? Is it a physical problem? Is it because of the fact that maybe you have been involved in some tragedy? Maybe you are suffering from some illness. Maybe the doctor came to you and told you things about your body you thought could only be true of someone else. And you say to yourself, “Oh, this is the end. I begin to see the end coming. I will never be able to enjoy life again.”

I want you to know today that when Jesus was raised from the dead, with that resurrection He gave a promise of health, of beauty, of strength. All we need to do is to look at how Jesus Christ’s body functioned with tremendous power we spoke about, the ability to say the word and to go from one place to another. And we shall be like Him, the Bible says, for we shall see Him as He is. Like Christ. Do you want to know what you’re going to look like? Just look at the resurrected Jesus.

You’ll notice in the text incidentally that our resurrection body will have flesh and bones. It says in Luke 24:37 (Jesus is speaking), “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself. Touch Me. A ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” We’re not going to be ghosts someday. Aren’t you glad for that? We’re going to have resurrected bodies. In fact, He showed them His hands and His feet, and while they could scarcely believe because of joy and amazement, He says to them, and this will be a great comfort to many of you, “Is there anything here to eat?” And He ate with them so we will even eat with our resurrection body.

See, I have one great dream, and that is for good food. [laughter] It’s coming.

Some of you say, “My shattered dream is my family. I’ve been betrayed in relationships. I feel lonely. I feel as if there’s a part of me that is missing.” You’ll notice Jesus gathers the disciples here and He eats with them as a sign of fellowship, and you remember what He said to Mary. He said, “Mary, don’t touch Me because I’m ascending to My Father and to your Father and to your God and My God.” Think that through. He’s saying, “Mary, I want you to know from now on God, of course, is My Father, but He’s your Father too, and that means that You and I are brother and sister. 

We are now members of the same family. We are brought into the fellowship of believers, and this begins already on this earth and will eventually be completed because one of the things that will happen in heaven is this, the intimacy that you now enjoy with the nuclear family, those of you that have good families—that intimacy is now going to be broadened to include all the people of God so that we will have fellowship, not only with Jesus Christ but with one another. The deepest longings of the human heart for acceptance and belongingness are met by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

You say, “Oh, Pastor Lutzer, my dream has been shattered. My dream was to have some wealth and some security.” Do you know what it says about those who are redeemed? It says, “He who overcomes I shall give to him all things,” because we are brothers of Christ, we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. And every shattered dream will someday be put back together and fulfilled.

But there’s a second lesson that comes to us, and that is Jesus does walk with us in our disappointment and our pain. Here along the way to Emmaus, they did not recognize Him, but Jesus was there. And after Jesus appeared in Jerusalem—keep in mind that Jesus traveled that distance twice that day, once while He was walking with them, and then a second time where, at the split of a second, He went from Emmaus to Jerusalem with His glorified body, but mark this well. He was just as much with them on the way back to Jerusalem as He was with them on the way to Emmaus because the Lord’s presence is with us. God will never abandon you. He will never leave you alone. He walks with us, but sometimes we don’t recognize Him. Our eyes are hidden and we don’t know that Jesus is next to us.

Remember that old story about the man who was walking along and saw two sets of footprints? And then on apiece, he saw only one set of footprints, and those were the footprints were present when he was going through a tremendous difficulty. And so he said to Jesus, “Jesus, you walked by my side, but when I needed you the most, you abandoned me.” And Jesus said, “No, when you needed me the most, I picked you up and I carried you.” He’s with His people.

Finally, I want to emphasize this though, if you do not invite Jesus into your life. He will go on by. You’ll notice what the text says: “As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if He were going further,” and He would have except for the fact that they constrained Him. They said, “Please stay with us.” And so Jesus stayed.

I want you to know the blessings I have been talking about, the shattered dreams that are going to be put back together, is really only a message for those who trust Jesus as Savior, who’ve invited Him into their lives, and who’ve trusted Him to be the one to take away their sin. And the reason for that is very obvious. It is that God cannot do all of these things for those who are alienated from Him, but only for those who have been reconciled to Him by the death of the cross. Suffering must precede the glory. First the cross, then the crown.

I urge you today—I urge you with all that is within me to realize Jesus is the only qualified Savior because no one else is able to shield us from the judgment of God. Like that Passover lamb with blood on our door, the justice and the judgment of God goes on by because we’ve been accepted by one whom the Father has accepted. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s Amen to Christ’s verdict on the cross. It is finished. It is finished, and He invites you today to believe and to trust Him.

If we had time I’d show you in the text of Scripture. It says, “Their eyes were opened and they realized His presence.” And a little later on it says in Luke 24:45, “He opened their minds that they might understand the Scriptures,” to understand the presence of Jesus, to understand also the wonder of His purpose. That belongs to those whose eyes have been opened to believe on Him.

There are some of you here, God bless you, and you know within your heart you are one of the ones in whom the Holy Spirit is working, and you are being asked, as it were, by the Spirit to open your life and your heart to Jesus, the only one who can reconcile us to God and give us the return of our shattered dreams because I want you to know, and I want to say this very clearly if you do not trust Christ, every shattered dream will become a horrid nightmare of misery and unending regret. Only Christ, the one who was raised, is qualified to give us our dreams back.

A little girl was dying in the hospital, and the doctor, being somewhat negligent, thought she could not hear what he said. And he said to her mother, “Poor little child! Her best days are over.” But the little girl was able to hear, and she whispered, “No, my best days are still to come.” And if we trust Christ, our best days are still to come. As a matter of fact, it says, “He who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, even as I overcame and sat with My Father on His throne.” And we will sing throughout all of the ages the glory and the hallelujahs of God as we give praise to the one who redeemed us, the one who is Lord, and the one who says, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Would you join me as we pray?

Our Father, we ask that your blessed Holy Spirit would take these words and apply them to those who sense that inner longing for the fulfillment of their dreams. Help them to see the wonder and the beauty of Jesus, the only qualified Savior who can reconcile us to God.

And now I am talking to the congregation that is present. If you here today have never trusted Christ, even at this moment in your heart you can say, “Jesus, I want you to be mine. I do not want you to go on by. Stay with me. Save me. Forgive me.”

And Father, because of your grace, we shall sing your praises forever. Help us to do it effectively, Amen.

The choir sings the Hallelujah Chorus.


Tell us why you valued this sermon.