Yeshua wanted to travel to Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem, to visit His sick friend Lazarus. He knew that Lazarus was already dead. The disciples tried to dissuade Him from making the journey at all. They reminded Him how, just a short while ago (at the Festival of Chanukah), the religious leadership in Jerusalem tried to arrest him and threatened to stone him.
The Master replied with a metaphor. He asked, “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” That is to say, are there not twelve hours of daylight? He referred to the Jewish legal practice of reckoning time. Regardless of what time of year or how many hours of daylight, Jewish law divides the daylight into twelve hours and the night into twelve hours. In the summer, when the days are longer, the daylight hours are longer. In the winter, when the days are shorter, the daylight hours are shorter, but there are always twelve.
So long as a person walks during the twelve hours of daylight, he need not stumble because “he sees the light of this world,” that is to say, he sees by means of the sunlight. The Master compared Himself to the light of the sun. So long as He was with the disciples, they did not need to fear.
Time was short. The Master had a sense of urgency. He had told His disciples:
We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world. (John 9:4-5)
His time to suffer and be removed from the world had not yet arrived. A few hours of daylight remained, they did not need to fear stumbling so long as He (the daylight) was with them.
One who has the Messiah, the light of the world, is likened to one who walks by daylight. “He will not allow your foot to slip” (Psalm 121:3). The one without the Messiah, however, walks without the light of the world. He walks in spiritual darkness. “He stumbles, because the light is not in him” (John 11:10).