The human mind is the most amazing computer ever created. And the human mind is constantly seeking to store and organize the information it receives. This is the work of our cognitive ability – the way we think. And if something doesn’t line up with our natural thought processes it creates a state of mental discomfort known as cognitive dissonance. In music 2 notes that clash with one another are called dissonant. In the same way, 2 ideas that clash with one another are dissonant and hence, the cognitive dissonance.
Cleopas and his traveling companion were dealing with cognitive dissonance. Their soon-to-be victorious Messiah had been crucified. They heard reports that Jesus was indeed alive, but they had no proof to counteract the fact that they knew He was dead. Their knowledge of the facts and what they had witnessed was being challenged at every turn.
The wonderful thing about cognitive dissonance is that it provides the foundation and opportunity for the deepest and most profound learning. Something that “does not compute” in our brains demands resolution. Teachers use cognitive dissonance to facilitate learning because when the points of dissonance – the clashing thoughts – are resolved, the brain records those moments as special and memorable. Jesus, the Master Teacher, used the cognitive dissonance of the Emmaus Road travelers to teach them how the entire Bible was pointing to Him. And it was an exceptionally memorable moment for them.
If you are experiencing cognitive dissonance, Jesus always has the resolution even if that resolution is not necessarily the solution you wanted in your situation. Let Him use your point of conflict and your clashing ideas to teach you by the power of the Holy Spirit Who is in you. The mind that finds resolution to the dissonance finds peace and sometimes peace in the midst of the storm. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Next week we will examine some of the other post-resurrection appearances of Jesus.
This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, February 13, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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