Fast Food and Front Porches

Bible Book: Luke  5 : 27-32
Subject: Evangelism, Relationship; Soul Winning

In our series of messages and studies on evangelism, I hope that you understand how connected this is to the issue of spiritual warfare. If there is one thing Satan wishes is that we become inwardly focused and refuse to get involved in our world so as to win our world to Christ.

One of the ways in which Satan has done such a fine job is by keeping Christians so busy at church that they rarely reach out to neighbors and friends. We are simply too busy to reach others for Christ. One of our staff members actually heard someone once say these words, "We really don't know any of our neighbors since we are so busy and do a lot with our church." Unfortunately, this is happening all over society with believers who seem disinterested in building relationships with the people around them.

We have mirrored our society which is becoming increasingly lonely, detached from one another.

Many of you may remember that the neighborhoods of old are constructed for the advancement of getting to know one another and building relationships. A front porch was necessary and vital part of the home and more important than even a second bathroom. The last generation lost this and new construction for the last twenty to thirty years was mostly void of a front porch. We have simply become too busy to visit with neighbors while sitting on the front porch. Recently, however, many places have seen a revival of building front porches on homes and building those homes closer to the street so that people on the sidewalk can be related to. Many people in younger generations are now openly expressing their hunger for relationships.

Add to this loneliness and detachment among believers and nonbelievers is the fast pace of our modern day society. Listen to the story of a man Ray Kroc. Ray Krock sold milkshake mixers, and he inquired as to why the McDonald's restaurant had purchased eight mixers as opposed to one or two like most of his other customers.

Immediately, he saw the potential to take this method of serving food across the country. He bought the rights to franchise, and the rest is history. From that model came many other fast food providers, thus shaping an industry that feeds 25 percent of America every day. With the promise of speed, service, and somewhat appealing taste, the world can eat three filling meals per day without focusing on the act of eating itself.

In addition, the innovation of the drive-thru window created a scenario where eating can serve as a subsidiary function of the driving process. The fast food industry and the drive-thru experience serve as metaphors for how life works today. The pace of life, the demands on time and the expectations of efficiency and production rule our lives. People are more desperate than ever for relationships.

Our Lord Jesus knew this desperate need for relationships. If you will study the way He related to both men and women, you will find a beautiful model for us all. He knew how to deal with spiritual issues by building positive relationships. Sometimes, He was able to relate powerfully even to those with whom he had deep disagreements.

Turn with me first of all to Luke 5:27-32.

I. Jesus Developed a Relationship with a Tax Collector

When Jesus called Levi, He accomplished three things: He saved a lost soul; He added a new disciple to His band; and He created an opportunity to explain His ministry to Levi's friends and to the scribes and Pharisees. This event probably took place shortly after Jesus healed the palsied man, for the "official committee" was still there (Luke 5:17).

And it is likely that Jesus at this time gave Levi his new name - "Matthew, the gift of God" (Luke 6:15; see also Matthew 9:9). Matthew sat at the toll booth and levied duty on the merchandise that was brought through. Since the tax rates were not always clear, it was easy for an unscrupulous man to make extra money for himself. But even if a tax collector served honestly, the Jews still despised him for defiling himself by working for the Gentiles. John the Baptist had made it clear that there was nothing innately sinful in collecting taxes (Luke 3:12-13), and we have no evidence that Matthew was a thief. But to the Jews, Levi was a sinner, and Jesus was suspect for having anything to do with him and his sinner friends.

We wonder how much Matthew knew about Jesus. Our Lord's friendship with Peter and his partners would put Him in touch with the businessmen of Capernaum, and certainly Matthew had heard Jesus preach by the seaside. Matthew instantly obeyed the Lord's call, left everything, and followed Jesus. He was so overjoyed at his salvation experience that he invited many of his friends to rejoice with him (see Luke 15:6, 9, 23).

The scribes and Pharisees criticized Jesus because they did not understand either His message or His ministry. Jesus simply did not fit into their traditional religious life. It is unfortunate when leaders resist change and refuse to try to understand the new things that God is doing. The scribes and Pharisees saw Matthew and his friends as condemned sinners, but Jesus saw them as spiritually sick "patients" who needed the help of a physician. In fact, He had illustrated this when He cleansed the leper and healed the paralytic. Sin is like a disease; it starts in a small and hidden way; it grows secretly; it saps our strength; and if it is not cured, it kills. It is tragic when sickness kills the body, but it is even more tragic when sin condemns the soul to hell.

The scribes and Pharisees were quick to diagnose the needs of others, but they were blind to their own needs, for they were sinners like everyone else. They appeared righteous on the outside but were corrupt within (Matthew 23:25-28).

The religion of the scribes and Pharisees could offer no hope to Matthew's friends, but Jesus could. What a wonderful Physician Jesus is! He comes to us in love. He calls us. He saves us when we trust Him, and He "pays the bill." His diagnosis is always accurate and His cure is perfect and complete. No wonder Matthew was so happy and wanted to share the Good News with his friends!

II. Jesus Reached Out to a Renegade

Turn with me to Luke 19:1-10.

The name Zacchaeus means "righteous one," but this supervisor of tax collectors was not living up to his name. Certainly the Jewish religious community in Jericho would not have considered him righteous, for he not only collected taxes from his own people but also worked for the unclean Gentiles! And publicans were notorious for collecting more taxes than required; the more money they collected, the more income they enjoyed (Luke 3:12-13). Though Zacchaeus was a renegade in the eyes of the Jews, he was a precious lost sinner in the eyes of Jesus.

It is interesting to see the changes Zacchaeus experienced that day, all because Jesus visited Jericho.

A. A Man Became a Child

A man became a child (vv.2-4). In the East, it is unusual for a man to run, especially a wealthy government official; yet Zacchaeus ran down the street like a little boy following a parade. And he even climbed a tree! Curiosity is certainly characteristic of most children, and Zacchaeus was motivated by curiosity that day.

John Calvin wrote, "Curiosity and simplicity are a sort of preparation for faith." This is often the case, and it was certainly true of Zacchaeus. Why the big crowd? Who is this Jesus of Nazareth they are following? What am I missing? Jesus said, "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God like a little child shall in no way enter therein" (Luke 18:17). Perhaps more than anything else, it is pride that keeps many "successful" people from trusting Jesus Christ.

B. A Seeking Man Became Found

A seeking man became found (v.5). Zacchaeus thought he was seeking Jesus (Luke 19:3), but Jesus was seeking him! (Luke 19:10). When Jesus was ministering on earth, He sought out the lost; and today the Holy Spirit, through the church, is searching for lost sinners.

We do not know how God had worked in the heart of Zacchaeus to prepare him for this meeting with Jesus. Was Levi, the former publican (Luke 5:27-39), one of his friends? Had he told Zacchaeus about Jesus? Was he praying or Zacchaeus? Had Zacchaeus become weary of wealth and started yearning for something better? We cannot answer these questions, but we can rejoice that a seeking Savior will always find a sinner who is looking for a new beginning.

C. A Small Man Became Big

A small man became big (vv.7-8). It was not Zacchaeus' fault that he was "little of stature" and could not see over the crowd. He did what he could to overcome his handicap by putting aside his dignity and climbing a tree. In a spiritual sense, all of us are "little of stature," for "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). No one measures up to God's high standards; we are all "too little" to enter into heaven.

The tragedy is, many lost sinners think they are "big." They measure themselves by man's standards -  money, position, authority, popularity - things that are an "abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15). They think they have everything when really they have nothing (Revelation 3:17).

Zacchaeus trusted Jesus Christ and became a true "son of Abraham," meaning of course, a child of faith (Romans 4:12; Galatians 3:7). That is as big as you can get!

D. A Poor Man Became Rich

A poor man became rich (vv.9-10). The people thought Zacchaeus was a wealthy man, but actually he was only a bankrupt sinner who needed to receive God's gift of eternal life, the most expensive gift in the world. This is the only instance in the four Gospels of Jesus inviting Himself to someone's home, and it illustrates the words of Revelation 3:20.

Zaccheus was not saved because he promised to do good works. He was saved because he responded by faith to Christ's gracious word to him. Having trusted the Savior, he then gave evidence of his faith by promising to make restitution to those he had wronged. Saving faith is more than pious words and devout feelings. It creates a living union with Christ that results in a changed life (James 2:14-26).

E. The Host Became the Guest

The host became the guest (v.6). Jesus invited Himself to Zacchaeus' house, and Zacchaeus received Him joyfully. Joy is one of the key themes in the Gospel of Luke, and the word is found over twenty times in one form or another. The experience of salvation certainly ought to produce joy in the believer's heart.

Zacchaeus became the guest in his own house, for Jesus was now his Master. He was ready to obey the Lord and do whatever was necessary to establish a genuine testimony before the people. To be sure, the people criticized Jesus for visiting in a publican's house (Luke 5:27-32), but the Lord paid no attention to their words. The critics also needed to be saved, but there is no evidence that they trusted Jesus.

When a day begins, you never know how it will end. For Zacchaeus, that day ended in joyful fellowship with the Son of God, for he was now a changed man with a new life.

III. We too Must Relate to Those Outside the Kingdom

We too must be followers of Christ in relating to those outside The Kingdom. We too must initiate building relationships with those who do not yet know Christ. If you study the life of Jesus, you will see that He was constantly pursuing those outside the Kingdom. He was looking for people that He could bring to the truth.

As we have seen, He initiated the relationship with both Matthew and Zacchaeus. Are you following the example of Christ and proactively seeking relationships with people that you think may not know Christ? How many lost neighbors can you name or do you even know your neighbors, coworkers, etc.? We must pay the price to build relationships with those who do not yet know Christ. It is now always convenient and comfortable to build those relationships. People outside the kingdom do not think like us, do not look like us, and certainly I hope do not act like us. Jesus, however, took the time to spend in the home of sinners to show the love of Christ. We may be ridiculed for our efforts to build these relationships. In the cases that we studied in the Scripture, the religious people were the ones who grumbled with Jesus as He reached out to Matthew and Zacchaeus.


Are you willing to pay the cost, the price to build a relationship with neighbors and coworkers for Christ? It takes time, energy, and resources and Satan does not want you to engage with those around you to win them to Christ. Will you pay the price? We must remember Christ's command to build relationships and seek out those who do not yet know Him. He has surrounded all of us with people we must get to know. We have neighbors with hurting marriages, coworkers dealing with pain and illness. Countless others that just need a friend will be open if you will reach out to them with the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ.