John 8:31-32 "So Jesus said to those who believed in him, "If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Sometimes I'm asked questions like what version of the Bible is the best, or why do the Gospels tell the same thing differently. I also see people get hung up on a particular word Jesus said. Actually, I've been guilty of doing that a few times myself. I think it would help us to remember that the language of the region Jesus lived in was Aramaic, therefore Jesus most likely spoke Aramaic. But the Gospel writers wrote in Greek. The reason they wrote in Greek was because it was the most widely read language, and by using Greek they were able to get the message out to a wider audience. What this means is that we don't have the actual words of Jesus. We have the meaning off His words. We have the meaning of His message.
So what does this mean for those of us who are followers of Jesus? First let us also remember that the Gospel writings, which are a Greek translation from the Aramaic which Jesus spoke, have been translated many times into various languages, including modern languages. But in all those translations, the meaning has been carefully preserved. It's still God's message to us. When we study the teachings of Jesus, it's important to get the whole picture of what Jesus was saying, rather than focus on one particular word.
Imagine taking a trip to see the Redwood Forest. Imagine going up to one tree and thinking you knew what the forest looked like by staring at that one tree. Silly, I know. The only way to see a forest is to step back and view all the trees in the area. It's the same with the Bible. When you read a text you only get part of the picture. You have to step back and view the texts around that one text to see the whole meaning of what is being said. It's the same with the Gospels. Read the whole text and all the texts around that text to understand the meaning of what Jesus was saying. Jesus did a lot of His teaching in stories, to illustrate the message He was trying to get across to the people. Read the whole story and any explanation He may have given His disciples later on. Also pay attention to what triggered the telling of the story. By studying all these different things, the meaning of what Jesus was teaching will become clear.
The main message or teaching of Jesus is relational. He taught about our relationship with each other. He taught about our belief in, and relationship with Himself. He also taught about our relationship with God the Father and His active interest and participation in the lives of each of us. He taught that we are never alone. God is always watching, guiding, and helping us. Through Jesus we learn of a loving, merciful God who sent His Son down here to walk among us, teach us, and die as a sacrifice for our sins.
When we carefully study the teachings of Jesus and obey them, we become His followers, or disciples. As His disciples, we develop a friendship, or relationship with Jesus. We are tuned into Him and His guiding. As long as we remain tuned into Him we can be assured of knowing the truth. It is the truth of His teachings, the truth of God's love and the grace we have as a result of His death that we are finally free.