Jesus Christ is “the best known person on earth”, says Jeffrey Archer in a recent interview on Premier Christian Radio. “If the name Jesus Christ has survived for 2,000 plus years, isn’t it just possible that he was the son of God?”
Indeed it is just possible; it is even highly probable, if not wholly plausible and totally believable.
And it seems this former Conservative MP, now Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare and prolific author, is on a similar journey to another former Conservative MP and convicted perjurer who has moved from darkness to light. He has updated the wording of the Christmas story, and his prose is featured in Christmas cards being sold in aid of Cancer Research. He explains the inspiration and crafting:
A piece was read in a carol service in St Margaret’s, Westminster, dated in the 18th century, and I listened to it and thought I can bring this up to date. The first six words were “He was born in a barn”, and I thought I can bring this up-to-date and have a modern version of it. I woke up in the middle of the night and went downstairs and wrote the first draft, and this version in the cards is probably the 14th. I was even changing words as it went to the printers: the word ‘denied’ got in at the very last minute.
And then the mission motivation:
I suppose I was trying to appeal to the young, and make the young realise that this man existed; and here we live in this Twitter, Facebook, Blog age, with instant demands, and still Jesus Christ is the best known person on earth. With the football team, you’ve got 12 disciples; 11 people play on the pitch and the substitute rather let the side down. Football is the world sport that is followed by so many millions of people, Making Jesus a football manager stuck me as very obvious as that’s exactly what he was, a leader of a team of 12 people, and indeed one of them let him down.
Lord Archer was asked where this leaves his personal faith. He responded:
It leaves me with as much curiosity and worry as it always has. I’m not sure. I like to think about it and carefully think about it. It’s quite a lot to stomach and live with, so I’m what I call an agnostic moving towards believer.
He explained that ‘events’ are causing him to move this way: “..the modern world; the way things are going,” he said. He is clearly reading the signs of the times (Mt 24: 3-31), and reflecting on the pervasive deception, decay, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, wars, rumours of wars, sorrow, suffering, false prophets, and increasing persecution for Jesus’ sake. Jeffrey Archer awaits only the abomination of desolation. In the meantime, he writes about hope, peace, and good will to all men:
He was born in a barn, his father a carpenter, and his mother a decent woman, but they were no significance, and certainly couldn’t afforded to give the boy a private education. And yet, as a teenager, he was arguing the toss with his elders and betters in the council chambers.
He never got a proper job, just roamed around the countryside, unshaven, and living off bread and water and the occasional fish, while offering his opinions to those who cared to listen.
He became the manager of a football team known as The Disciples, not one of them a star, in fact the twelfth man rather let the side down by accepting a transfer fee of thirty pieces of silver to play for the opposition.
The authorities eventually arrested him as a rabble-rouser, but couldn’t decide what to charge him with, other than the fact he claimed he was the Son of God.
The text appears in the Cancer Research UK Christmas cards, because:
When I wrote it, I thought how can we use this? And Cancer Research are a truly magnificent charity who gave large sums of funding to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge when my wife was Chairman. Then she had bladder cancer and they saved her life. Then two years later I had prostate cancer and they took care of me. So we have a lot to thank Cancer Research for. And if you do want to see the piece in full, it will be in their Christmas card this year. I hope people get, very simply, that if the name Jesus Christ has survived for 2000+ years, isn’t it just possible that he was the son of God?
Lord Archer has donated all profits from the card to Cancer Research UK. He has been invited by them to read ‘The Son of God’ text for the first time at their carol concert at St Mary’s Marylebone in London this evening (Wednesday December 19th). How encouraging it is, and what a blessing to the world it will be, to hear of another rebirth, redemption and restoration at this joy-filled celebration of the Nativity.