Josh Laxton on Criminal Minds, the Story of Easter, and the Critical Role of God’s People

Image: Photo by Bruno Van Der Kraan on Unsplash

Josh Laxton currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Billy Graham Center, Lausanne North American Coordinator at Wheaton College, and a co-host of the podcast Living in the Land of Oz. He has a Ph.D. in North American Missiology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.


During the current “shelter in place,” I’ve found myself catching up on seasons of Criminal Minds. I admit, it’s a pretty dark show as it is about the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), which is tasked with finding and capturing serial killers.

Think about the ‘dark’ plot of the show Criminal Minds. Serial killers are on the loose, wreaking havoc, and the local police or sheriff departments aren’t equipped to hunt down such dark criminals. When they realize they are at their wits end, they call the BAU (Behavior Analysis Unit), which immediately begins analyzing the crime scene photos.

The BAU is the good news for local and state law enforcements dealing with dark criminals. The agents of the BAU are trained to shine light where darkness resides. The more light they shine, the more they push back the darkness, and the sooner they can bring peace in chaos. In short, when the BAU shows up, hope arrives.

I got to thinking how the plot of Criminal Minds resembles the Easter story.

The world is in a state of chaos and darkness as the serial killer of sin is on the loose. And the world is looking for an answer of who can put away sin once and for all and restore order, peace, and light.

To put away the serial killer of sin, the world needs to call Jesus.

What Should Have Been, Isn’t

The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4,

For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake. For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. (vv. 5–6)

I love how Paul connects the good news (Jesus Christ) with the Genesis narrative. Rewinding all the way back to the beginning of creation, we know that after God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1), the earth sat in a state of chaos. The author notes the following description: “The earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths….”

Sidney Greidanus describes the scene this way: “It is pitch black; no light at all. All that exists is a formless, empty, dark, deep ocean. Nothing can grow or develop on this earth. It is utter chaos.”[1]

In a state of utter chaos, the Spirit of God begins to move, and in the very next verse we read those famous, yet powerful, words, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’….”

When I read those words, I think to myself what it must have been like—that in a flicking of an eye, darkness became light. Hope had dawned, life was beginning to unfold, and at the end of six days it would be deemed “very good.”

Envision what “very good” is to you. What does a “very good” creation look like? What takes place in a “very good” creation?

Now that you have what you think is “very good,” is that our reality today? Probably not. This means something went wrong.

The Serial Killer Sin and the Good News of a Savior

According to the Scriptures, we believe sin entered the “very good” world and wreaked havoc. Sin can be defined as “everything that does not [derive] from faith [in God]” (Rom. 14:23). To give a little more definition to sin, let me borrow from John Piper who defines sin as, “any feeling or thought or speech or action that comes from a heart that does not treasure God over all other things.”[2]

When Adam and Eve sinned, the order God had brought in creation began to unravel. Sin tainted; sin cursed God’s good creation—especially the crescendo of his creation, humanity. The created order—as well as humanity—lives in this fallen, broken, and chaotic state.

Every religion and philosophy have tried to make sense of why the world is the way it is and how it can (or will) be made right. They are in a sense looking for a BAU to help bring clarity, resolve, and thus, calm.

Here’s where the Bible helps tremendously. The Apostle Paul tells us, according to the work of God, Jesus Christ is THE WAY God will redeem humanity, restore the created order, and reverse the curse of sin.

God, in a similar fashion to how he began the unfolding of creation by speaking light into darkness, sent THE Logos (The Word made flesh) who also is THE Light of the World on mission to begin the unfolding of the NEW CREATION.

In other words, God sent Jesus to stop the serial killer of sin (and death) in its tracks.

But how did Jesus accomplish this? To birth a new creation, Jesus died for (and in the place of) the old creation and was raised as the first fruits of the new creation. Paul defines this as the gospel. In writing to believers in Corinth he explains,

Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you…. For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.

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Source: Christianity Today