How does one “leave his wife” for the Kingdom of God?
Luke 18:28-30 Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed
thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man
that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children,
for the kingdom of God's sake, Who shall not receive manifold more
in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
In context, Peter was making his statement in contrast to the statement by Jesus that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom. After which the disciples asked, who then could be saved, to which Jesus replied that what was impossible with man was possible for God. It is at this point that Peter remarks about their having left all for Jesus.
We see in context that “house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children” are equated with the power of riches to keep the heart of someone from following Jesus.
Another example of this is seen earlier in Luke;
Luke 14:15-27 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard
these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in
the kingdom of God. Then said he unto him, A certain man made a
great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to
say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said
unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see
it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought
five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me
excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I
cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things.
Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out
quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither
the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the
servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there
is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the
highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be
filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden
shall taste of my supper. And there went great multitudes with him:
and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate
not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and
sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And
whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my
In this context Jesus uses the apparently pious statement of a man regarding the kingdom as an opportunity to illustrate that entry into the kingdom was not as automatic as many supposed.
Here we see the illustration that our interest in Jesus has to be more than cursory. If we value family or even our own life more, we fall short of being a disciple.
It is this totality of self that is to be given to Jesus. The “leaving” of a wife is not a physical departure, but the insertion of Jesus as being of greater importance.