Jesus lived and taught in a very different world, in a different social, religious and political milieu so how can what he spoke of then possibly be relevant for human beings now?
Could the short answer be.....
Structures and societies change but human beings remain human and human stories retain their point.
If Jesus had addressed himself to the particular political, social and religious issues of his own times rather than teaching through signs and parables, his words may be long forgotten. Instead, he consistently used stories which remain relevant no matter how much the specifics of human existence change.
Test this out for yourselves.
What are some of the challenges that face us as human beings in the 21st century?
Brainstorm a list of them (if you can’t think of any try the morning paper).
What are some of the parables of Jesus that you can think of (or find a list here). Can you identify some parables that might have something to say to the list of problems and concerns you identified?
Match up a couple and see if the story and the present day work together. If not, what's the problem?
What about me?
The London Times once asked several well-known authors to write articles on the theme, "What's Wrong with the World?" The Christian writer and humourist, G. K. Chesterton, wrote this reply:
Dear Sirs, I am. Sincerely yours, G. K. Chesterton
What was Chesterton getting at?
Sometimes our own personal lives can be a minefield. Difficulties like loneliness, isolation, anger, jealousy, selfishness, greed, dishonesty, being excluded, boredom (can you think of any more?) affect just about everyone at some stage. What might some of the parables have to say to these problems?
Would the world be a very different place if each of us could fix our own problems?
Sometimes it's not so clear what Jesus is getting at. Would you agree that he's not just interested in his hearers getting the answers right.
Some people (including Jesus himself) have suggested that the parables are meant to confuse not to enlighten. Look at a powerpoint pdf intro to the parables by Mark Hoffman to see what he suggests about the point of parables.