Four years on, and the Second Coming of Christ seems to be running out of steam. In a desperate attempt to kickstart the campaign Jesus Christ even recently agreed to confront his mother, Mary, on an edition of The Jerry Springer Show entitled ‘My Son’s the Messiah and He Never Even Calls’. During a bruising encounter the former Virgin Mary – currently living in a West Virginia trailer park – told how she’d hardly seen her son since he’d got into the saviour business. “Damn it all, he has time to go aroun’ consortin’ with prostitutes and down and outs, healing the sick and such like, but does he ever come and visit his poor old momma an’ lay his hands on her back to ease her lumbago? He sure as hell doesn’t! The only time I see him is when he comes aroun’ pleading poverty and tryin’ to bum food and money off of me,” she screeched, adding that she’d also never seen a penny from the money Jesus must have made from his good fortune. “You’re not tellin’ me that he hasn’t made money from this, with all the merchandising deals, film rights and personal appearances! Has he used it to help his family? Like hell he has! I’m still livin’ in the same shitty trailer I brought him up in, leakin’ roof an’ all!” Despite the Messiah’s attempts to explain that any monies he may have received have been redistributed to the poor and needy, he found himself being roundly booed and jeered by the studio audience.

This is just the latest in a series of humiliating setbacks for the Son of God in his attempts to save mankind and establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Two years ago he found himself run out of Alabama by a mob of rednecks accusing him of sorcery and witchcraft when he attempted to perform miracles there. An unfortunate incident followed in Kansas City, when he was accused of sexually molesting a group of young women, who claimed that Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, had groped their breasts. In his defence he claimed that he had merely been ‘laying on’ his hands in an attempt to detect and heal any possibly malign lumps in their breasts. When confronted with medical evidence proving conclusively that none of the women had any trace of irregularities in their breasts, he declared that this simply proved his miraculous healing powers. The authorities were unimpressed and Jesus was forced to skip bail and flee to Nevada and a potentially lucrative series of shows at Caesar’s Palace. However, his attempts to recreate his forty days of temptation in the desert was upstaged by David Blaine’s exploits in a glass box. Thoroughly disillusioned, the Messiah turned to drink, his shambling around Las Vegas, accosting tourists and offering to perform miracles for a drink.

With pundits predicting a premature end to his comeback tour, even the Messiah himself recently conceded that things just weren’t going to plan and that he had seriously considered throwing in the towel and getting a ‘proper job’. “I know that it would be a huge disappointment to my Father if I was to become, say, a real estate agent, but the message just doesn’t seem to be getting across,” he told Tonight show host Jay Leno, during a recent appearance on the show. “Even my Bible-signing sessions at Christian bookshops throughout the South were poorly attended – people just don’t want these vague promises of peace and love anymore! Clearly we need a new approach which makes the teachings of the Bible more relevant to the modern world.” To this end, Jesus has sacked his disciples in favour of a firm of publicists and a top Hollywood agent. This strategy has apparently paid dividends, with film and TV deals already in the offing, although a negotiations for a big-budget action epic produced by Jerry Bruckheimer appear to have fallen through due to the Messiah’s recent poor publicity. “We were thinking along the lines of a Jesus Strikes Back type of film, picking up where most Jesus flicks end – the crucifixion – and showing Christ rising from the tomb and swearing vengeance on those who have wronged him. We envisaged him kicking Pharisee ass and offing Romans by the dozen as he seeks out Judas,” explains Bruckheimer. “One concept was to have him recruit a whole new twelve disciples, Magnificent Seven style, played by top action stars like Steven Segal, Vin Diesel, Van Damme and Stallone. Ultimately however, the whole thing’s on hold as we’re just not sure if JC is big enough box office any more.”

Nonetheless, Christ is confident that he can generate enough publicity from his upcoming TV projects to get the movie back on track. “We currently have several ideas in development – in the long-term we have high hopes for God Squad, an action orientated drama series featuring a crack team of former Special Ops guys now working for the Salvation Army to right wrongs and close bars. I’d play their boss who sends them out on a new mission each week – it’s kind of like the A-Team, but with tambourines instead of automatic weapons,” he enthused to Leno. “We’re currently shooting the pilot for It’s a Miracle! a new gameshow where people come on and see if I can cure their mystery ailment – everyone who’s cured wins a widescreen TV. There’ll also be a segment where amateur preachers get a chance to win big prizes by converting sinners or casting out demons live on air! CBS are very excited about it! I’m also preparing World’s Holiest Videos for Fox, where viewers can win cash for sending in their own videos of miracles they’ve witnessed – stigmata, bleeding Virgin Marys, that sort of thing! It’s essential we show people that Christianity can be fun and of material benefit to them!”

If Jesus can get his Second Coming back on track, it will be nothing short of miraculous, showbiz commentators agree. From the outset, when the West Bank hovel where he was born was bulldozed by the Israeli army, forcing the family to flee to the US (where his foster father Joe ran off with a teenaged cheerleader), the whole project has been beset with difficulties. The three wise men were seized by militants in the Lebanon and held hostage for nearly ten years. When released they were refused entry to Israel and ended up in Baghdad, where they were imprisoned by Saddam for a further ten years. Having escaped during the first Gulf War, they were eventually gunned down by a US patrol on the Kuwaiti border, who mistook them for Iraqi insurgents – whilst their frankincense and myrrh were found with the bodies there was no trace of the gold they were supposedly bringing the new Messiah. “I guess it must have been confiscated by the Iraqis,” winks Sergeant (retired) Don Pounder, leader of the patrol that killed them, relaxing on the deck of his luxury yacht in Monte Carlo. Despite this catalogue of catastrophe, Jesus himself remains in good spirits. “If all else fails, I’ve got an offer of pantomime in Bracknell for next Christmas – apparently they’ve reworked Snow White to include the twelve apostles instead of the seven dwarves ,” he confides cheerfully. “It would be a bit of a bind working on my birthday, but the money’s good!”