Luke 29:8 “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor...”
What made Zacchaeus, this wealthy tax collector, give half of his wealth to the poor? There is no indication that Jesus asked him to. What we do see is Zacchaeus “received him (Jesus) joyfully” (v6).
When crowds gathered around John the Baptist earlier in Luke’s gospel they asked “what should we do?” (Luke 3:10). John the Baptist replied “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same” (Luke 3:11).
Both John and Jesus, had a ministry of sharing with the poor. A ministry of giving generously and practically. This wasn’t out of obligation. This generosity and care for the poor came out of free will giving from the heart. This particular kind of sharing of goods and wealth with those in need is available for us all.
Jesus’ character and ministry must have had a strong emphasis on remembering the poor because Zacchaeus automatically spouts off that he’s going to give half of his wealth to the poor after eating a meal with Jesus.
What is it about Jesus’ character and reputation that Zacchaeus had such a heart change? One encounter with Jesus has a way of realigning our values. One meal with Jesus changes where we put our money. One conversation with Jesus makes us want to consider the poor and treat those around us with the honor and respect they deserve as people.
“And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” (Zacchaeus) Luke 19:8